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The thing nobody thinks about is that it’s difficult to hold things, without fingerprints. Dollar bills, telephones, pub darts and pens: they just disappear when Tegan2‘s applying what should be the right amount of pressure. She’s broken more glasses that way.

It’s one of the minor side effects of clonehood–forced growth means skipping the details–but it occupies a frustrating amount of Tegan2‘s attention. Her friends joke that she should become a burglar, as if every scrap of her DNA isn’t owned.

Marlo’s learned to be quick at catching. Tegan2 keeps meaning to look up t-ball leagues.


Tegan swore she’d have to be two people to keep up with Marlo, so she became two people, and shortly thereafter became the first person in history to lose custody to her clone. Which had benefits: the alternative was dropping out. Twenty with a five-year-old. Doesn’t take a math degree.

“You’re late,” says Tegan2, wreathed in kitchen smells (Tegan can’t cook a Hot Pocket).

“Sorry,” Tegan mutters.

“Get your backpack, sweetie!” Marlo comes running.

Tegan2‘s got crow’s feet and gray hair: fraying telomeres. She won’t see thirty. Tegan takes Marlo’s hand and turns away, eyes filling, hating herselves.


Tegan cries angry grownup tears all the way to the zoo.

“Maybe we shouldn’t go, Tegan,” says Marlo quietly.

“Why,” mutters Tegan, “did I not teach you to call me Mom?”


“That’s enough, Marlo.” She wipes her eyes again.

Most of the animals are indoors, but Rombach the Panthera leo persica is out and pacing. He doesn’t have much of a mane; his eyes are brave. Marlo watches him until Tegan makes her leave, then slips away and comes back and gets yelled at entirely too much.

Marlo gets a stuffed lion at the gift shop with her own money.


Marlo goes on safari with a pop gun, the kind with neither caps nor a spark wheel but rather an actual cork that, when you pull the trigger, it pops out.

She sneaks up on a lion, which is hard to do. Pop!

“Ow!” says the lion. “Careful! I’m endangered, you know.”

“So’s my gun,” says Marlo, brandishing it.

“I meant you shouldn’t kill me,” says the lion.

“I didn’t,” says Marlo, “I tranquilized you so you have to come to my party.”

“Okay,” says the lion. Then they are friends and Tegan is not invited.


Guns are bad!