On Texting a Guy a Picture of the Dionne Quintuplets
by Rebecca Brill
If I sent it would he like it. Would he like it if I sent it.
Would he like it would (redacted) would (redacted) would would he like it.
Emily says he will. Christine says he will. Emily says he might. Christine says he will. My pulse says he won’t.
He won’t he won’t he won’t he won’t (he might) he won’t he won’t (he might).
My heart has an extra beat—did you know it.
Christine and Emily and me at the table—three. Yvonne, Annette, Cécile, Émilie, and Marie—five. Three or one and one and one or five or one and one and one and one and one. Five on a bench in five matching dresses. Five on a bench in the year 1940. Five bows on one and one and one and one and one small heads.
When he kissed me in the chapel.
Mulch and how its smell is distinct from that of dirt.
In 1940, the Dionnes do not show signs of homeliness, as they will in adolescence, when with bushy eyebrows and stumpy calves, they might pass for Janis Ian or rabbi’s wives or my grandmother and her sisters, who ran a chicken farm out of Brooklyn and who were also five.
He is one.
I think for Halloween I’ll go as Anne Frankenstein.
He is one and I am one.
I think I’ve put on weight.
He is one and I am zero and they are five and five and five.
The old recesstime feeling of sharp stomach pain and dust particles floating in sunlight.
He won’t. He might. He won’t. Sunlight.
The Dionnes and me on a bench, waiting, six or zero or one.
Christine and Emily and me at the table. Three of us and five quintuplets and two cups of coffee and one cup of tea. A mug that resembles a bowl, endearingly. Christine offers cream and remembering I don’t take it, rescinds in a moment of knowing. It is good when some things but not all things are withdrawn.
Émilie, who is not Emily, died of a seizure at the age of 20.
At a concert by an artist we both liked but did not like enough to stop kissing.
People who would have gone mad for the Dionnes: Diane Arbus, Mengele, producers at TLC.
His tallness makes kissing hard, even on tiptoes, even in clogs.
How tall were the Dionnes and were some shorter than others and did any kiss men and did any kiss women and did they wear girdles and did they use words like fellas and did they drink gin and was height a factor in the relative ease or difficulty of kissing and if so how much of a factor.
Am I the only one who feels like plump cod when naked.
If I sent it if I sent it would would he like it.
Each new iteration of Scrabble strikes me as less coherent than the previous.
Christine and Emily and me at the table and I am the only one in a raincoat, which is yellow and which I consider a mac because that word brings me such delight, as does sitting at the table, which at one point was mine, and which before that was Sarah’s, and which before that was people’s whose names I don’t know, probably men’s, but I seldom think of men or remember men’s names, which are passionless and pedestrian like types of wrenches, except for the name of (redacted), which is truly inspired and which plays in my head on a loop in the form of “The Name Game,” a song I thought I hated but which it turns out I adore.
But then, maybe this was not my table. I wonder, do they switch them out year to year for variation’s sake.
Redacted, redacted, bo-bacted, banana-fana fo-facted, fee-fi mo-macted, redacted!
His hand on the small of my back. I don’t think the small my back very small. I admit it is nice when adjectives are nouns also.
How did the Dionnes take their coffee and did all take it the same or did each take it differently and did Annette take cream and did Yvonne take sugar and did Cécile take cream and sugar and how many sugars and is sugar quantified by teaspoon or tablespoon or cube or packet and when were sugar packets invented and when was Splenda invented and what is the difference between Splenda and Equal and Sweet’N Low and which is the one that kills you and did Émilie take nothing and did Marie take milk and when the milk went bad did she take cream or did she take nothing and how did she like it and how did she die.
Christine is like my sister, but once she was my lover. This is disgusting but also erotic, as is every friendship between two women who do not yet believe they are women.
Did some take it black or did all take it black and what is the cost of coal these days and what is the formula for a permutation and am I the only one who remembers arithmetic melancholically.
The black down on her thighs.
Would he like it.
How at 12, when I first got my eyebrows waxed, my vagina twitched, as if knowing it were next.
Would he like it and can some tumors be drained and where is the “send” button and what do goyim want with doilies anyhow.
Sisters I have loved: The Roches; Joanna and Klara of First Aid Kit; Kate and Laura of Rodarte; pubescent Mary-Kate and Ashley; the Lerman twins from elementary school; Marcia and Jan and Cindy (but most of all Jan); all three of Russ’s daughters; the beautiful, fatherless Franco girls from camp; the twins in both the Hayley Mills and Lindsay Lohan versions of The Parent Trap; Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey, and Dianne Wiest in Hannah and Her Sisters; Debbie and Susie Schwartz, the indistinguishable and pretty mothers of two kids in my class; Lillie and Jane on Louie; anorexic Mary-Kate and Ashley in frumpy, unsmiling elegance; the Marx Brothers, whom I consider sisters on account of their intoxication with one another and penchant for cuddling; the Kardashians; the Brontës; the Lisbons.
Multiples are not the anomaly they used to be thanks to advances in fertility treatment.
Would he like it and how does he take his coffee and are cotton socks sufficient and does he like rhyming games and why as a child did I put clay in my ice skates and is “cathartic” overused and will he and will he and does mortar still exist or is it just from the bible.
When Beyoncé sings, I don’t know much about algebra but I know that one plus one equals two, it is frustrating because that equation is arithmetical. Poetic license should be suspendable or revocable.
Truths I have known: Sometimes you must skip a class to masturbate about a classmate from the class you are skipping. Text messages can’t be rescinded.
At what rate do hearts beat and shall I write him a note and shall I birth him a child and shall I birth five and one and one and one and one and one and who here has known the pleasure of having cream rescinded.
Annette and Cécile are still alive but are they still five in five dresses and if not what are they.
Rebecca Brill is a senior at Wesleyan University. She is double-majoring in creative writing and gender studies. She is currently the editor-in-chief of Stethoscope, Wesleyan’s student-run press, which last year published her book, Oh Lord Prepare Me, an experimental memoir. She has also worked for Wesleyan University Press and Cleaver Magazine, and freelanced for a variety of publications.