this time, when she invades your senses and dreams and personal space, you don't even try to fight it.

no fantasy of "it's not wrong if you're not who you are – you a college student and she just a girl, the daughter of your father's best friend, a ballerina, glissade right, arabesque, pas de bouree, glissade left." no telling yourself that she's grace, one of the three graces, aglaea with dark hair like a halo around her face. no, this time you're the guy you've always been and she's your sister, the way she's always been; lovely and hellacious and never out of your reach.

she comes like something out of a dream, white tank top and panties and nothing more, locks your door and stops whatever you were about to say with a raised eyebrow. you swallow and think of your mother, gentle smile and warm embraces, and of dad, oh, always dad, copper-bright, spun coin-careless into air and falling away, forever away.

her eyes are for a moment the color of spring-promise, only a trick of the light, but you sigh all the same and reach for her and sign yourself over to the devil.


it used to be like this:

in the summer she'd sit for hours in the backyard with her nose buried in a book until you went out and tickled her till she stopped ignoring you. sometimes she'd give you a withering look and stalk off, but most of the time she'd smile with the power of a thousand suns and, not even kidding, you'd have to avert your eyes for a second lest you'd be blinded.


and sometimes, it was like this:

you'd skip school on a friday and spend the day at the mall, switching between the music store and the book store, because grace couldn't stand to listen to anything that wasn't classical music for too long, and you couldn't stand to be around that many books for too long – they reminded you of school and the fact that you were skipping (and also the fact that you'd never understand this part of her – the part that had her sitting up in the middle of the night under the covers with a flashlight and a book and how her eyes would be red-rimmed the morning after like she'd been crying).

when you'd get home you'd be drunk on the exhilarating feeling breaking the rules gave you, and when your mom asked how your day had been you'd look at her and she'd look at you and you would both start to laugh before racing each other up the stairs.


your dad left when you were seven and she was five. he had scooped her up from her hiding place behind the couch and hugged her roughly before slinging a bag over his shoulder and walking out the door without so much as one look at you.

you spend a good portion of the rest of your life wondering what you did wrong.


your mom works at a perfume store, and you get used to the near tangible smell that seems to follow her wherever she goes. when you were little she'd sometimes pull you to her on the couch after work and tell amusing stories of customers who couldn't tell lavender from horse shit. you'd giggle and she'd laugh with you, bright and warm, and hug you and say that you were the man of the house. you'd say that as the man of the house, you should be allowed to have ice cream for dinner, but she'd just laugh again and tell you to go play with your sister until dinner was ready.

you can't distinguish one perfume from another either, except for chanel 5. she always wears chanel 5.


your best friend is joey keller who lives down the street. when you were fourteen you'd sneak out at night to wreak havoc in town and grace would beg to come. she was twelve with her hair always in a braid and her nails bitten down, and you'd whisper for her to go back to bed before mom woke up, then you climbed out the window and congratulated yourself when you got on the ground without breaking a sweat.

only once did she ever come with you and joey complained about it all night. she shot him dark looks and quoted poetry just to piss him off, but when you laughed they both glared at you and teamed up to make your night miserable.

sometimes you think he thinks of her as a sister more than you ever have.


she hates your girlfriends. every single one, without exception. mary was too self-centered; jessica too clingy; naomi too stupid and lisa too blonde. the one boyfriend you bring home gets a calculating look and a put-on sigh, but also a nod. you let out a sigh of relief and kiss him at the dinner table.

your mom coos and your sister mutters you're lucky dad isn't here to see this.

you lose your appetite.


you did fight her, once.

you cornered her and asked what her fucking problem was, couldn't she grow up, couldn't she leave you alone, get out of my head, get out of my dreams.

she kissed you instead of answering and, in retrospect, you figure that's when everything started to make sense.


your theory is that it's her. grace is made of chaos, made of everything that pushes the world, that gives it color and light and shadow, that blurs and streaks it with motion – summer mornings she leaves her beethoven and her carson mccullers and swims naked in the nearby lake, waiting for you to join her, and if you don't she refuses to talk to you for the rest of the day.

grace, who drives too fast and whose smile is just as fast or oh so devastatingly slow, depending on how she wants you to break.


she's in your lap and her smell washes over you, familiar and intoxicating, and you tilt your head back, fevered, half-lost to the world; she grips your shoulders as you hold her hips, working into her, fierce and fervent; the sound she makes is the cry of birds, harbinger's beck, the shriek of summer's first raven, and when you recognize who she smells like you bite your tongue, tastes blood as you shudder and shiver and spill.

she doesn't look at you. you don't look at her. you can still smell chanel 5 and your dick gives a little half-hearted twitch. you cover your face with your hands. they smell like her, like fabric softener and perfume and sex and you want to cry. you just came from smelling your mother on your sister and you don't even have the words for it.

a/n: i'm sorry, karissa. i don't…i didn't plan on the incest! i swear. (challenge – prose, 500+ words, "daugher(s)," "lovely" and "hellacious.") also, if someone notices anything wrong with the tense, please tell me. i had huge problems sticking to one.