Ladies, gentlemen, and Fey!
Rosie and I are twins, but half sisters.
It happened just how you’d guess, of course. Mama loved two men at the same time, and she slept with them both in the same month.
When our fathers wanted her to choose between them, she left them both before she even knew that we were coming.
We might as well have the same father, though, for all we saw of either of them as children. Two absent fathers are the same as one.
But they’re different men, and people do insist on being shocked.
Mismatched, half-sister twins are one thing. But our mother also being a bearded lady who had worked in what she lovingly called “the freak circuit” ever since she was a wispy-whiskered lass of fourteen years old?
We’re circus through and through, Rosie and I. We never had a chance, not a chance, to be anything else.
Rosie’s born to the performer’s life, though, in a way that I never was. I think she always feels a little cold without the heat of a spotlight on her skin. When she walks the tightrope with her arms outstretched, that wide, easy smile on her face, it’s as restorative for her as sunbathing. She floats between trapezes like a mermaid through a sunny sea, without a thought that the air would let her fall. And even when she’s simply dancing . . . oh, she shines.
She shines, and the world basks in her light.
I stick to the shadows.
I switched teams, stepped out of the spotlight, and became a stagehand as soon as I realized I could. Mama, thank goodness, was kind about it. She killed off her double-act dreams without complaint, at least to me, and she asked the stage crew to show me the ropes, in both senses of the phrase.
So I got to be behind the spotlight, and Rosie in front.
Even then, of course, we shared it.