Itís hard because she looks just like you, and no one will let you forget that. She has your huge and hopeful eyes, your twisted smile, your heart-shaped face and dark blanket of hair--or you have hers. Thatís probably more accurate, since she came first, but you think of it the other way, her as an echo of you. Nobody thinks of their sister as a higher being, even when they think about their sister the same way you do.

When you were younger, some people thought you were twins.

You think it might be easier if she wasn't so obviously your sister. Then you'd be able to sit with her in a restaurant, in a nightclub, and talk to her and kiss her hands and nobody would disturb you. They'd think you were on a date and you need privacy, and they'd leave you alone with her. Of course, then you wouldn't be able to take her to premieres without people gossiping about you. And maybe then you'd forget, forget that she really was your sister and you can't touch her in public the way you'd like to, the way you're not supposed to. You might do something, kiss her on the mouth instead of the cheek, place your hands lower on her hips than you really should. If she didn't look like your sister, it would be so much more dangerous than she already is. You've learned from Angelina Jolie's mistakes.

The first time you saw Maggie naked was onscreen, covered in prosthetic scars. She was next to you in the theater, and when the time came she squeezed your hand and said, "Okay, Jakie, time to look away."

You tried to. You couldn't. It was too strange, too fascinating to see your own face onscreen. To see Maggie's face, so like yours, and her small round breasts and her flat stomach and her long legs. To see your sister nude and beautiful onscreen, larger than life, and to have her warm fingers wrapped around yours.

Later that night, you got drunk at the after party. You got drunk because every time you looked at Maggie, you saw the way she looked on film--bent over a desk, biting her lip in ecstasy, breasts submerged in bathwater. Flash flash flash of ways you should never see your sister. You know that she is not the character she plays, but you also know that it was still her naked that you saw. Her, not just the character she played.

When you got back to the hotel, Mom and Dad said goodnight and went to their room. You didnít see it, but you know they gave Maggie a meaningful glance. They told, silently, her to take care of you, and she did. She got you back to your room and took your clothes off and bathed your face with a cold washcloth. She was your big sister, and she smiled down at you with a face that looked just like yours.

You kissed her on the mouth, softly, and said, "Maggie, you're beautiful."

That night, you didn't see her naked. She just looked at you with your face in an expression you didn't recognize, and then she took off her expensive dress and got into bed with you in only her slip, soft and silky against your body. She said, "Go to sleep, Jake," and kissed your cheek, and fell asleep with her head on your shoulder.

When you woke up, you took a bath together, like you had when you were kids. Without the prosthetic scars, Maggie's body is smooth and strange, different than it was onscreen. Different than yours, and you wonder how you could ever have seen her as just your sister.

Her face still looks like yours.



For Molly.

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