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by Colin Watts

Emily was born on Wanda’s third birthday. Back home, their mother handed Wanda a rattle. It’s a present from you to your sister. To welcome her into the family. Wanda snarled and hit Emily with the rattle. Their mother eased it away and kissed Wanda’s hand. Emily smiled and gurgled. Wanda snatched the rattle and ran off, howling.

When Wanda was eight she smeared shit in Emily’s hair. Their mother washed and kissed them both in silence. When Wanda was twelve she pushed Emily in front of a bus. Harsh braking and a brave woman saved her. Wanda said whoops! Emily said nothing. Their mother wept and hugged and kissed them both in equal measure.

At nineteen Wanda was willowy, raven-haired and dressed in black. Emily was short, dumpy and dressed in any colour that took her fancy. Wanda devoured men. Emily devoured cheese and pickle sandwiches. Wanda made three hundred friends on Facebook to prove how popular she was. Emily didn’t do Facebook. Wanda posted that Emily had stuck a pencil up her front bottom when they were little. Emily said nothing. They went their separate ways.

Wanda set up a website: thedishcalledwanda. She blogged about Emily’s body odour and lack of personal hygiene. She Tweeted a daily insult. She sweet-talked Emily’s email address out of their mother, grovelled an apology and sent her a Friend request. Emily set up an account. Wanda posted: little sister, little sister, you set my heart on fire. Alongside her posts, she set up false news items: Emily is addicted to crystal meth: Emily has sex with horses.

Emily took herself off Facebook. She met a man called Steve over a cheese and pickle sandwich. Steve made her laugh, liked her for who she was. They fell in love and got engaged. Emily invited Wanda to the wedding: let’s kiss and make up.

***

Emily stands between Steve and her mother. The registrar is saying: “If there is any person here who knows of any lawful impediment …” Wanda strides in in black leather onesie and stiletto boots. There is a gasp. The bride, the groom and the bride’s mother turn as one. There is silence. Wanda pulls from her belt a five-shot Derringer; avenging angel in bas-relief on the grip. Holding it, elbows locked, in the two-handed Weaver Grip, she raises it to eye level. Nobody moves. This is my sister, she says to Steve, despatching him with a single bullet to the head. No one shall have her but me. She fires two shots to Emily’s heart, red pumping over white. You are my sister, she says: no one shall have you but me. To their mother, she says: now you have no one to mother but me. She gives her one bullet to the head, another to the heart. She puts the muzzle to her temple, triggers a click, smiles and takes up the lotus position on the wooden floor. Only then does the screaming begin.


Colin is seventy-three, married, with grown up children and has lived in Liverpool for many years. Publications include two poetry collections — Human Geography and Taking Down the Tree House — along with various short stories, including Quiet Coach, The Weight of Dunlins, Kissing the Water, Spaghetti and Meat Balls and Intelligent Design. He has had plays performed in and around Liverpool, including Real Dreams, Snoopers and She-He.

He cycles everywhere, cultivates a quarter of an allotment, is a long-standing member of the Dead Good Poets Society and co-runs a regular Story Night at the Bluecoat Arts Centre.

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