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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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Daredevil Girl Survives Fall

The perverse thought of bringing him along -- torturously, a little cage of her own, wielding the oppressive and undeniable existence of her pregnancy like a sword, putting him in a cage with her, a grotesque husband analogue holding her purse while she shops -- on made-up girly errands becomes the answer. She's given herself a fact to push against, and come up with a solution. A momentary freedom from the cage.

Shane's asleep on a strange aunt's couch with his haircut and his earring -- Is it the right ear, or the wrong one? It really matters, ask Doug and ask Cesar and ask Guillermo, it's essential -- with Andy couched on the other side of the taint. Two creepy twins stare down at them while they sleep it off, having arrived late last night at the home of Nancy's sister Jill Price-Gray, who keeps up a constant personal monologue about her sister's selfishness that requires no response from anybody, because that's what she does all day, talks about what's going on, in the soft and put-upon voice of the obviously brilliant and obviously forgotten and it's only a slight tilt in her tone that signals she's actually addressing the twins, "ham or pepperoni?" and they say it together, "ham," and she pops two ham Hot Pockets into the microwave while never quite ceasing the hushed susurrus of her complaint: What is this, a hotel? Are they expected to be awake all night, like vampires? The twins sparkle at the kitchen bar, "Catfish," in one voice like that: "catfish!" and without turning to look at them, accustomed to their shared non sequitors and secret languages, without even turning from the microwave she goes, "Whut?" and they explain that catfish are nocturnal, as are hedgehogs; and without ceasing she incorporates this information into her monologue: yes, exactly, like a hotel, like vampires, like catfish or hedgehogs, they're expected by her sister to be nocturnal, and then the microwave goes "bing!" and without ceasing she incorporates this information into her monologue: "bing!" just like that, answering the microwave the way she answers the girls: "bing!" and then she drops its contents on plates and serves them up to her daughters; Hot Pockets, bizarrely, for breakfast; and when she says, "yumyum" like that, all one word, she's still not talking to them, because it's all a monologue, because nobody else talks to her and if she doesn't talk to herself she'll go as crazy as her sister.

Jill has two daughters and a husband and a burgeoning resentment toward everyone and everything. Her sister Nancy has two sons, with another on the way, and no husband whatsoever. Jill predates Nancy by eighteen months: practically twins. But they were not, I think, ever twins like this; while they are both grey girls in a certain way, the Price Girls were never like the Gray Girls, or we would have seen Jill before now.

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