Uli descended the column to applause from the crowd and was greeted by mother with scolding and hugs, slaps followed by kisses. Her future was set from that moment on.
I was yelled at for letting Uli out of my sight – no hugs and kisses for me, it would seem, but at least Uli never let slip that I had dared her up that column. I suppose even Uli had her tolerable moments. It also didn’t hurt that overnight she’d become a local hero. For the first time ever, being her twin had its perks.
It also meant I spent the next year in trouble.
My parents tried everything to keep their wild child from further endangering her life, but now that Uli had finally found the spotlight, no way was she letting it leave her. Each week her actions became more dramatic and daring. If it kept her audience coming back for more, Uli lived by the rule Anything Goes.
Meanwhile, I chose to follow the grand tradition “If you can’t beat them, join them”, and to capitalize on the situation. The only question was How?
My first brilliant plan was to join Uli’s act. Not only did this anger my darling twin, who didn’t want to share the attention, I ended up with a 10 inch gash in my shin that required very painful stitches and a sprained wrist. Don’t ask. Suffice it to say that I lack my sister’s grace.
I also received the scolding of a lifetime from my mother who declared we didn’t need two fools in the family, and wasn’t allowed to leave the house for the next month. Instead of going outside I had to help with the extra laundry my mother did for money. Fortunately neither my imprisonment nor the foul smell of lye kept my best friend from sneaking in to entertain me.
Sephon was an artist. He was quiet, observant and, due to being cursed with a terrible stutter, he communicated almost entirely through the beautiful pictures he drew. So while I was stuck at home working my hands raw, he would follow Uli, draw all the ridiculous things she did, then sneak into my home at night to show me just what I’d missed.
Sometimes to cheer me up he’d draw Uli tripping and falling flat on her face. I’m not too ashamed to say it did help.
Despite my jealousy and general annoyance with Uli (aka the Bane of my existence), I found that I was sad to not be there to see her perform. Even at only 8 or 9 she really was spectacular. Now that she’d found her calling she single-mindedly pursued it, constantly working to improve her act – even when this meant her actual studies suffered and she couldn’t do basic addition, much to my parents’ chagrin.
It was then that I realized how I could join in. What, I asked myself, separates a crazy monkey child (my mother’s words) from a star? Fame and money. What did you need to acquire that? Publicity.
While Uli’s act drew people in, her abrasive personality pushed them away. I, on the other hand, am a people person, likeable, even charming at times, and had become quite adept at smoothing ruffled feathers – both those of Uli and others. Most importantly, I could see the Big Picture and had an idea for how we could profit from her talents. You see, unlike Uli, I could do Math.
It all started with Sephon’s notebook: We already had the perfect advertisements. After all, if they made me wish I was there to see it, surely others would feel the same. We just had to find a location for Uli’s performance that adults wouldn't stumble upon, where Sephon and I could control entrance and charge an admission fee.
Well, that and convince Uli to stop doing her daring stunts for free.
Sephon left that part to me – despite being one of Uli’s only friends, he was slightly terrified of her. I think it’s what made the relationship work.
I, on the other hand, had to hope that blood was indeed thicker than water – and that not too much would be spilled that afternoon…