Birthmark by Len Kuntz

My sister wrote words on her skin using colored markers that streaked like blood. Her penmanship was a tiny scrawl, almost Asian-looking, and to be able to read it you had to get very close, with her permission, and she’d have to stop squirming.

It was hard not to shudder the first time I visited. I thought places like that were supposed to help the addicted, but my sister looked gaunt and ghoulish. When I inquired about the writing, she pulled her sleeves down and started crossing and uncrossing her arms until I glanced away. “It’s better than needles,” she said. Then she added, “You probably don’t even believe it anymore.”

“What’s that?”

“You and I being twins.”

We’d begun the same, then turned opposite corners with dull edges. The sharp edges had just come recently. Before, she was light and I was dark. I had a habit of destroying things: television sets, furniture, other people’s self-esteem. My sis sang sweet choir songs. She wore dresses while my parents glowed, making me no more than a birthmark, a shadow, some gutted placenta.

It was cruel the way I set her up with Devon. He always gave the first gram free, but I paid cash so she’d have five. By the fourth, she was circling Jupiter and I was washing up.

Now it does hurt a little to see what I’ve created, but I figure Sis will toughen up, sober up eventually. She might even sing again.


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Filed under Len Kuntz

11 responses to “Birthmark by Len Kuntz

  1. Oh my God, I would never have the courage to write a story about someone so horrible! But you did it so calmly and openly and matter-of-factly, so it is utterly believable … and admirable too.

  2. Al McDermid

    “. . . some gutted placenta.” And just get’s harsher after that. It’s all so vivid and sad. I love the build up, oh, she’s in rehab, oh! he put her there. Great take on the theme.

  3. Creepy relationship that you told really well. I have no pity on either of them, they seem like demon twins who switched roles. Very original piece!

  4. Wow, Len, this is so powerful and well presented. You’ve taken one of the strongest human bonds and severed it neatly.

  5. Wow, she’s quite the shadow; isn’t she? Seems to me that she did it to make her sister darker than herself. Siblings can be so cruel.

    Scary, but well done.

  6. Len

    you guys are all so nice, and consistently so. thank you. i am really grateful.

  7. By taking it to an extreme, you’ve laid out the dynamics of sibling rivalry quite powerfully.

  8. strong and bitter stuff: what we do to each other. great story construction, moving in a circle toward the core.

  9. Disturbing little piece, dark and delish. Loved all of it, but this phrase keeps ringing in my head: we’d started the same, then turned opposite corners with dull edges. Peace…

  10. Pingback: Week #25 – least favorite « 52|250 A Year of Flash

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