Half-Lady, Half-Baby

By Jennifer Niesslein

August 25, 2014

Half-Lady, Half-Baby

We’re in our bunk beds. Summer in western Pennsylvania, windows open. Someone nearby mowed his lawn not too long ago. The carnival is in town behind the fire hall, and earlier tonight, we stuffed ourselves with cotton candy and elephant ears. In the darkness, we hear the barker for the freak show. Come see her! Half-lady, half-baby!

In our bedroom, Erin asks if she can come down to the bottom bunk. Maybe you oblige in a fit of kindness, her too-warm body next to you on the single bed, both of you in your dad’s old tee-shirts as pajamas. Probably you don’t oblige on this night because you’re persnickety about your personal space, although on others you’ll cave because that’s what big sisters do. 

This is for sure: your parents are somewhere in the house, still in love. They’re taking care of the new baby or they’re sipping Miller Lites from the can. You think of yourself sometimes as a half-lady, half-baby; you could be in the show. Tomorrow, you’ll catch lightning bugs. Tomorrow, you’ll write a story. Tomorrow, you and Erin will be more ladies and less babies, but right now you’re drowsy and you scootch further into the clean sheets and you dream about being tossed in The Scrambler until you’re no longer a baby at all.


Photo "circus tent" provided by Ryan McCullah, via Flickr creative commons license.

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