Lily Hoang


She’d always wanted girls, two of them twins twinning and twisting, she always imagined they’d be the same, look the same, speak in their special twin language. Instead, she got boys, two of them, not twins in the least, different as planets from separate galaxies: more like one was a burnt out moon full of dust and death, the other like a pale planet one its way out. Determined, she calls them Shelley and Sheldon. Determined, she puts them in the same clothes. They are a riot of a bunch, if two could ever be called a bunch. And she bunches their hair into horse’s tails: she calls them unicorns, their little penises had to have some use.

She’s only six, our little mother.

They are five and nine, our little boys.

They punch her and leave a rainbow on her arms and legs.

They nurse empty mouthed.

They’re hungry, constantly, and our little mother can do nothing.

So she gives them peanut butter candy and watches them run wild. And they are a wild bunch, if two could ever be called a bunch. And she bunches their hair with barrettes and bows: she calls them unicorns, their little penises had to have some use.

They are pretty boys, if not, dumb.

Our little mother, she grows bored and tired, as mothers do, even grown ones, much less little ones.

One day, she determines she will have girls, girls like her without unicorn horns, girls with pretty blonde locks that can be twisted into braids and buns. She gathers their unicorn horns and gives them a haircut. They are an insatiable bunch, these boys, these dirty muddy boys always playing in dirt and grime. She gives them a good scrubbing, until their skin squeaks, and cuts their horns right off their little hairless bodies.

But don’t you know, little mother, that unicorn horns are magic and full of fairy dust? They grow back, even when excised with a butcher knife or scissors, it doesn’t matter. They grow back, twice as strong and bright, almost like twins.

Lily Hoang is the author of the books UNFINISHED, THE EVOLUTIONARY REVOLUTION, CHANGING (recipient of a 2009 PEN Beyond Margins Award), and PARABOLA (winner of the 2006 Chiasmus Press Un-Doing the Novel Contest). She serves as an Associate Editor at Starcherone Books and Editor at Tarpaulin Sky. She blogs over at HTMLGiant and teaches in the MFA program at New Mexico State University.

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