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Melissa Ostrom Birth Order Rites

The middle child plays the oldest moves to “Venus.” Eventually she will child’s games, or the middle child plays alone. What about the youngest? He’s sucking on the handle of a wooden spoon. He’s sleeping in the highchair. He’s crawling. He’s walking. He’s finally interesting. But now he plays superheroes, wears Underoos and runs around the neighborhood with David. He pees with Richie in the backyard. He tries to kill the trespasser, Damon, by lining the driveway with nails to bust the asshole’s bicycle tires and topple him to a piercing death. He hides under his bed to avoid Dad who’s shouting about the goddamn nails in the station wagon’s tires. The youngest is not a contender. So the oldest gets to write the rules. Rule one: she leads. In their basement, Middle’s sister choreographs the

manage their band, the next Bananarama, the future Bangles. But presently, the sisters practice with the mixed tape in the recorder. They wear legwarmers and sweatbands. They dance, stop and rewind, dance, stop and rewind. The oldest takes charge of the rewinding, each time precisely returning the tape to the song’s beginning. Sometimes the sisters just grab hold of the fat pole that grows out of the dusty cement and race around it until they’re too dizzy to stand, until they stop laughing, until the metal begins to burn their right hands. Around and around and around, no one should win. There shouldn’t be a leader. There is. Middle does not play the part of Barbie, but getting more than one role (Ken, Skipper, the knockoffs and a baby known as Baby) compensates. If Nicole

Crack the Spine - Issue 140  

Literary Magazine

Crack the Spine - Issue 140  

Literary Magazine

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