The triplets shared things.
They shared a birthday, a last name, a Mommy and a Daddy.
They shared a house, and in that house they shared a backyard and a bedroom.
But not everything was shared equally.
In the triplets’ bedroom there were three beds, lined up one, two, three.
One bed, the one closest to the door, was always neatly made.
It was also always empty.
It was supposed to be Shay’s bed, but Shay never slept in it.
Shay always slept in the middle bed with Ella, the covers pulled over their heads like a tent.
In the bed closest to the window, Maddie shivered in her own tent.
Her lukewarm breath leaked out from the loose knit of her blankets.
In the mornings, Shay and Ella would rise from the twin bed synchronously, as if they had counted down together.
Yet there would be no shuffling under the covers, no giggles, no whispered “one, two, three!”s before a squealing eruption from the blankets.
Shay and Ella woke up as one and sat up as one and as one they removed themselves from the covers.
Maddie saw this most mornings, waking up with the sun, the cold air from the window biting beneath her eyelids and forcing them open.
Most mornings, Maddie felt paralyzed from her deep sleep induced by the chill.
She felt paralyzed by the cold, by the uncontrollable shiver of her muscles.
Maddie only moved after Shay and Ella moved.
Shay and Ella only moved after Mommy called.
ShayElla, Maddie, breakfast! Mommy called most mornings.
Mommy had started referring to Shay and Ella as one before they even turned one.
When Mommy wanted Shay, she found Shay and Ella.
When Mommy wanted Ella, she found Ella and Shay.
When the triplets were sixteen, they studied advanced biology.
“Monozygotic” multiples represent a single fertilized egg .
Also known as identical twins, a “monozygotic” pair is formed when the fertilized egg divides.
Maddie learned that ShayElla were identical twins.
“Dizygotic” multiples represent two separate fertilized eggs.
A “dizygotic” set of triplets would be composed of two siblings from one egg and one sibling from a second egg.
Maddie learned that she was not identical twins with anyone.
When Maddie told ShayElla this, they smiled at one another with glints of light reflecting from their eyes.
Then they introduced Maddie to their boyfriend.
His name was Timothy.
His eyes were green globes that absorbed the rest of his face, magnified by thick corrective lenses that had no frame.
Without his glasses, Timothy saw double.
On some nights he snuck into the triplets’ room through the window next to Maddie, and into ShayElla’s queen bed.
ShayElla had received the queen bed when they began falling out of their shared twin bed synchronously.
Maddie had upgraded to a full bed.
From her full bed, Maddie would watch her sisters’ tent writhe and heave and buckle in a triangular dance while she shivered.
Maddie found she could keep herself warmer with her hand squeezed between her thighs.
She could keep even warmer if she wriggled her fingers inside of herself.
A chimera is an ordinary creature…
…except that some of its DNA actually derives from its twin or its mother.
A chimera may be formed either from the rejoining of monozygotic fetuses (impossible to detect)…
…or from the joining of dizygotic fetuses, identifiable through chromosomal comparisons from various parts of the chimera’s body.
While she watched the Dance of Triangles, Maddie would think about chimeras and monozygotic twins.
If Maddie was a chimera from a monozygotic fetus, she thought over and over, that meant that her twin was inside of her.
And no one would be able to prove it.
Maddie would reach inside of herself, searching for her undetectable other half.
She was certain that she could prove it.
One night Maddie found her twin.
Her twin, unused to being touched, shook inside of her the way Maddie shook when she was cold.
This twin shook so hard that Maddie shook too.
She called wordlessly into the darkness that had blotted her sisters’ tent from her eyes.
The tent tumbled off of the three bare bodies in the bed, and six eyes bore holes into the unseeing body of Maddie and the unseen body of her twin.
Maddie lay in her darkness with her fingers still meeting her twin.
An unexpected reunion, an unsupposed re-.
The desire she and her twin shared to stay connected pulsed inside of them both.
The blankets were pulled over her face.
She breathed in and out with her jaw slackened.
Sucking the blanket into her mouth with a huhh .
Puffing it into a miniature tent again with a pff .
Over and over.
The air around her was warm and moist.
She thought that this must be what the air in ShayElla’s tent felt like.
Maddie named the twin inside of her Lynn.
She began to refer to herself as MadiLynn and asked everyone around her to do the same.
Everyone complied, unsurprised by the teenager’s sudden desire to go by her full name, Madeline.
After that, Maddie woke with her sisters, when their mother called from the kitchen: ShayElla, Madeline, breakfast!