I know from Grandma Fredericka, and not our parents, that I once went missing for long enough that the police were called and it turned out I'd tailed Santa Claus out of a department store and into a tobacco shop where he was buying cigars and he gave me the ring off one, so the police being called was just an added bonus on what must have already been a pretty good day.
I know from Grandma Donna, and not our parents, that I once buried a dime in some cake batter as a surprise and one of the graduate students chipped her tooth on it and everybody thought Fern had done it, until I spoke up, so brave and honest. Not to mention generous since the dime had been my own.
So who knows what revelries, what romps my memories have taken with so little corroboration to restrain them? If you don't count the taunting at school, then the only people who talked much about Fern were my Grandma Donna, until Mom made her stop, and my brother Lowell, until he left us. Each had too obvious an agenda to be reliable Grandma wishing to shield our mother from any share of blame, Lowell stropping his stories into knives.
Once upon a time there was a family with two daughters, and a mother and father who'd promised to love them both exactly the same.
Reprinted from We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler with permission from Marian Wood/Putnam, a member of The Penguin Group Inc. Copyright © 2013.
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