Literary Orphans

The Thalamus by Tantra Bensko

savena_by_plamen stoev

The diprosopus twins joined with a uni-head, with separate faces, shared a thalamus: they heard each other’s thoughts. They laughed pretty much at the same time, out of the blue, not saying a word, even though they could only look in opposite directions.

They had never seen each other’s faces. They had never thought about it.

Until their mother came at them with a mirror.

It was like wolves coming into their beds, and devouring them. And they laughed at the mirror and at their mother, and she danced on the bed, and that bounced the toddler/s up and down as one. They fell on the bed and one hurt her wrist a bit, but she just shook it, and the other one reached around and patted her.

They had a hairline together, with nice bangs for each of them, split down the center, brushed nicely blond like a doll, perfectly cut straight across.

What one saw, the other knew. They considered it their super power. They played games together in their heads. They became like easy rishis.

The world became more like a breath of air. More like the sound of a water wheel. A puzzle. A wheelbarrow carried on one’s head in the rain.

Their mother entered them in a beauty pageant. They dressed in blue checked frills, like little Swedish dolls, with their hair flaxen, with perfectly straight thick bangs. They closed their eyes and danced and sang “Tea for Two” using tiny white canes made for the blind. Then, they threw the canes away on a high note as if some miracle had occurred and joined elbows while they continued out the number, opening their eyes, and looking pointedly at the contenders, who squirmed. Mostly the dance involved lurching in awkward circles, one bowing, lifting the other girl up in the air about a foot off the floor. The air-bound girl would clap her feet together to the tune.

The contestants hated The Thalamus because they could never talk about them behind their backs. The contenders couldn’t hide any of their arrogant gestures to each other as they made fun of The Thalamus, because The Thalamus had no blind spot. And they couldn’t be isolated and bullied, because they were always two of them.

One contender tried to smirk without being noticed, and another rolled her eyes. The Thalamus interrupted their song and stuck out their tongues and lolled them around, and opened their eyes wider, and pulled back their shared hairline, the one who was facing away gleefully described what she could see behind her through the other one’s eyes, in great detail, including guessing the weight of the pudgy girls who were smirking, and detailing the peach juice stain on the shoulder of the shirt the eye-roller was wearing. The judges oooed over that visionary feat.

The Thalamus took it well when they lost the contest. They would have kissed each other on the cheek if they could have. They high-fived backwards over the top of their head. They knew their choreography was good. They skipped anyway, one of them going backwards, one forwards.

The Thalamus didn’t care.

O Typekey Divider

Tantra Bensko teaches fiction writing at UCLA X Writing Program and her own academy, where she also edits manuscripts. She lives in Berkeley.


O Typekey Divider

–Art by Jan Rockar

–Art by Plamen Stoev

–Art by Joel Hohner

jordan Sneakers | Nike Dunk High & Low – March 2010 Releases , Ietp