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The Lost Child
by Tom Speropulos

This is the tragic tale of Irene and Shirley Shug, twin girls, who were born 59 years ago on, March 10th, 1952.

The day they were born in, Pumpkin Center, South Dakota, their mom had just finished milking the family cow when she felt dizzy and suddenly damp (the mom, not the cow).

The expectant woman knew the moment was now and she, instinctively, hollered for her husband (Lyle) who immediately began boiling sheets and drinking corn liquor.

A passing chiropodist delivered the girls and the twins arrived safely with no thanks to Lyle. However, Mrs. Shug did have clean sheets on her bed.

A few years passed and the girls became the focal point of their family life. In addition, all was well and blissful until one fateful day Shirley wandered into the hills by herself and never seen again. At first, the family thought she was only playing hide-and-seek; however, after a few months they gave up on that idea.

After Shirley’s disappearance a veil of darkness fell over the family. Lyle began drinking more heavily and talking to his cattle in tongues. Meanwhile, Mrs. Shug sat in front of her dresser mirror for hours at a time listening to Puccini’s “La Boehme” while plucking hairs from her scalp and eyebrows. Of course, the results from these sessions were not flattering and did little to improve her farm girl features. Further, Irene, Shirley’s twin sister, began staying in her room for days eating corn nuts while writing Haiku poetry about sheep.

As travelers would pass by their farm, the parents called to them relating their story of the missing child hoping to find the answer to the disappearance. Years went by and no one could shed any light on her vanishing. Luckily, one time, a dark haired stranger responded to their call. He stated that he had heard tales of a young woman found in the Black Hills of Dakota by a Gypsy band of gold digging medical attorneys.

Seemingly, according to the stranger, the attorneys had raised the young woman as a paralegal, filed suit against her, and then settled out of court in Duluth. Unhappily, Shirley was never found and some say she remains locked inside one of the lawyer’s briefs.

Finding no relief in the stranger’s answer and after years of worry and grief, the remaining Shug’s abandoned their troubled farm life and joined a traveling circus headed for the Ukraine. They settled in a small village near Kiev during the off-season selling blankets and charms to the local tourists. Further, they never again spoke of their lost child what’s her name.