Emily pat the ground next to her. Then, while waiting for Skylar to sit, she dig her fingers past the stringy grass and into the tiny black rubber pellets underneath. She rolled this part of the AstroTurf between her fingers.
"So." Skylar’s voice was at her level. “You lied to your sister. John isn’t going to meet us, he’s with Hannah.”
“So, she trusts John. Because you’ve been friends for so long?” Skylar asked.
“That’s part of it. John also was there after the car crash, helping me figure out how to cope.” Emily let herself fall backwards, stretching her arms above her head and her legs straight out. “And he hasn’t left since.”
“But now he’s on a date. With Hannah.”
“That’s not leaving Skylar.”
“If you do not become eventual mates, than doesn’t the space between you grow? Isn’t that a form of leaving?”
“It’s growing up. We’re friends and nothing more.” Emily sighed. “As much as Lorain thinks otherwise, we won’t end up together.”
“Does that… upset you?”
“No!” Emily dug her heels into the fake dirt and the fake grass and the weird smelling paint. “What upsets me is that people don’t drop it!”
“Sorry.” Skylar mumbled. It was a soft voice, one that made Emily realize what a perfect blend of hers and John’s voices it was. The richness of John, slightly higher pitch, and the lilt of Emily’s own voice, something she thought she copied from her mother, but if Skylar was imitating it straight from the start, it must be written in her DNA somewhere too.
“John’s an amazing friend. And he deserves an amazing partner. I’m not going to stand in the way of that.”
“Oh I deserve all of that too.” Emily chuckled and pushed herself back up, feeling bits of rubber tumble down her back. “And we’ll be happy for each other.”
“I see.” Skylar was drumming her fingers on their legs, Emily could just hear the tapping under the bird calls from the line of trees between the football field and her house.
“Do you have any siblings?” Emily asked.
“All Qwortarians have a sibling.”
“So… always born in sets?”
“Hatch.” Skylar stopped drumming their fingers. “You see, each one of use is…” While Emily waited she brushed what she could reach of the AstroTurf off her back. “A hermaphrodite is the best way to describe it. So, when we mate, each one of use produces a fully fertilized egg that then hatches within days of the other one. Fraternal twins.” Skylar sighed. “Not that every baby survives. Our young mortality rate is higher than yours.”
“My sibling did not survive. Their body was too solid at the time of hatching.”
“I’m sorry.” Emily reached out and found Skylar’s arm, leaving her hand there.
Word count: 470