Emily Klipperstein has a notorious sweet tooth, so her twin Marta's husband Victor makes ganache-drizzled fudge and sets out little bowls of gummy worms when Emily comes over to fuck him. She sucks and chews and smiles, a chocolate smear on her nude left thigh. Victor licks it off and grimaces, making her giggle. He hates sweets. He's forty-three. Emily is twenty-five. He told her two nights ago that she should wear blue more. It suits her, he insisted, with her cool eyes and dark hair. And why don't you cut your hair? he said. Start fresh. Now she's sheared to three inches of baby curls. He nuzzles his fingers in them and purrs, says That's better. She kisses his meaty shoulder and says, Come play on the trampoline with me. He gropes her breasts and says, No. It’s too hot. By the way, Marta texted before you came over; she won't be back for another week, so you can sleep here. Emily stiffens but he doesn't notice. He burrows his face between her breasts and inhales her pheromones. What about my clothes? she asks. You know her stuff is too tight on me. He laughs against her and it seems to get in her blood, grilling her from the inside. I'll buy you more, he says. Emily tongues the gap in her bottom teeth, tucked back on the left side, where she had a tooth pulled fifteen years ago. It had grown in naughty so it had to go. She came home dizzy-high and sleepy, pulling at the lilac dress their stepfather had dressed her in. After their mother killed herself he started taking them shopping, picking out coordinated outfits and taking them to fancy salons where they gave complimentary massages, just like their mother used to do. He would sit outside on park benches, whittling fairy figurines for his girls and chain-smoking Marlboro's. His name is Earl. He has ruddy red hair and insomnia. Every night he battled on the bottom floor while they slumbered upstairs, in matching canopy beds. Emily saw him clamoring up Marta's rocky little body when they were sixteen, at three in the morning, when Emily tip-toed downstairs to sneak a sliver of his famous cherry pie. Marta's icy eyes, shining with tears, mouth open and jerking up for his, whispering, I love you, I love you, as he pulled up her nightgown, telling her to spread her legs more, more. When he closed his hand around Marta's gamine neck Emily swallowed a cry. She eased herself back up the stairs, hearing her only family hunt each other and an ambulance run laps in her head, an endless round of pants and wails. She crawled into bed and hugged her head with her hands, feeling Earl everywhere and nowhere, leaving fingerprints she’d never find behind.

Emily knows Marta isn't out of town on business; she's somewhere with Earl, being whittled to nothing but a heart and a vulva, getting everything she's always wanted, keeping him all to herself. Emily sits up and reaches for her cerulean dress, ready for Marta's trampoline and the balmy outside air.

Victor grabs her by the neck and yanks her close as sweat. She thinks about slapping him, knows he likes it, but goes slack instead. He tilts her neck supine and says, I don't care what you need; I’ll buy it. I want you all week. I want everything.


About the Author: Dawn West (b. 1987) is a fiction writer and book reviewer living in Ohio. She can be found online at

Story Song: "Every Single Night" by Fiona Apple