Jordan Jackson had five daughters-quintuplets, actually. Identical ones. And she’d named them all like a set for maximum appeal. Miley, Millicent, Mildred, Milburga, and Milani. Five girls like five fingers on a hand. Five sets of matching clothing, five beds with the same bedspreads, five birthday cupcakes that each had an M because nobody but Miley had a name short enough to fit.
God, Miley was tired of being a sibling.
She was backstage after another successful infomercial filming (JUICE! A new shampoo for the curly girl) when Millicent called.
“Have you heard from Mildred lately?”
“No.” Miley was holding a press release packet in her hand for the conditioner line she had planned. “I’m not her keeper.”
“But Milburga hasn’t heard from her in a week.”
“And? Go call her yourself.”
“She won’t pick up, Miley.”
“Maybe she finally left her good for nothing man.”
“You don’t think anybody’s good enough for her.”
“Because she picks based on wallet and nothing else. If she hasn’t answered it’s probably because she’s lost her mind trying to have a conversation with the latest bank account on legs.”
“Ugh, you’re useless.”
“I’ll ask Milani about it at lunch. Go teach your class.”
“Alright. Love ya, sis.”
“Love you too.”
Milani and Miley were the most well known siblings, with a crossover audience of gay men in their 20’s who had fits of insomnia and ended up wondering why their favorite diva was on the Home Shopping Network at 4 am selling shampoo. At brunch they’d already been accosted by one twink wearing a Carly Rae Jepsen shirt and taking advantage of the bottomless mimosas.
“AKSJDJSJ!” he’d screamed. They both signed his cocktail napkin before finding a table.
“I have a single at #97 on the Hot 100,” Milani told Miley over miniature French pastries. “My stans spent most of the afternoon @ing me about it.”
“How’d you say that?”
“How’d you say the-“
Milani’s phone buzzed so hard it fell off the table, taking an adorable paper doily with it.
“#96, now. I guess #StreamSmoothie really worked.”
“It’s been out for three hours!”
“The Millners are a dedicated bunch.”
Miley shook her head. “I’m proud of you, so exciting, blage blage. There’s serious business on the table today.”
“Nobody’s heard from Mildred recently.”
“And? She’s probably on vacation with a rich cardboard cutout in Cancun.”
“That’s what I said!”
“To who? Milburga?”
“Oh.” Milani took a sip of her bottomless mimosa. “I’m concerned, now. Everybody knows Mildred relies on private lessons from Millicent to keep her womanly figure.”
“I don’t know that.”
“Everyone in the know knows. And now you’re in the know. Isn’t it exciting?”
“Not particularly. And why does Mildred take lessons from Millicent?”
“Sisterly love! It’s the same reason Milburga uses your shampoo in all her hair washing videos.”
“God, you are so behind the times.”
“I don’t watch her videos. They creep me out.”
“Useless. No family loyalty.”
Miley angrily ate a beignet and wondered when the other four decided to spite her.
Evenings were supposed to be Miley’s self-love time, time when she could watch The Bachelor and redo her nails for the next day’s filming. They were not supposed to be interrupted by phone calls from anyone, much less family.
“Hey, Miley.” Milburga spoke into the phone the same way she spoke into the microphone in all her videos. It was disturbing. “Millicent says you don’t care about Mildred.”
“I do care.”
“Then why aren’t you looking for her?”
“Because she’s a grown ass woman and I’m not her mama?”
“She could be dead, kidnapped, in jail, pregnant, on drugs, or smuggled into Finland and we wouldn’t know.”
“Her last known man is from Turku..”
Miley hit mute on a ChopMaster commercial and looked for her shoes. “I’m going to get in my car, and I’m going to go see Mildred, and I’m going to tell her to answer her damn phone before y’all drive me up a wall.”
“Yes, right now.” She grabbed her keys and a ballcap. “I’ll keep you updated.”
“Miley, you can’t, it’s-”
Miley hung up. It was a short drive to Milicent’s place, which was a cute townhouse in a trendy neighborhood. One of the magazines she modeled for had done a photoshoot inside of it with natural lighting and a replica Remboldt on the wall. Their mama had torn that page of the magazine out and framed it.
She walked up to the front door and knocked, shivering in her PJs. If Mildred didn’t answer the door she’d kick it down herself.
“Open up!” she yelled.
There was a scuffle behind the door, then a bang. It opened to reveal Mildred, wielding a broom.
“Freeze!” she screamed.
Miley didn’t even flinch. “Answer your fucking phone! Everyone’s worried about where you’ve been, and they’re all bugging me about it.”
“I’ve been home. Just..occupied.”
“Oh, you know.” She winked.
“Trying to make conversation with investment bankers on Tinder?”
“No! Cyrus was in town. So he’s been hanging with me.”
“What happened to the Finnish dude Milburga was on about?”
“He’s been in town as well. Now you get why I’ve been busy.”
“You abandoned your sisters to get dick!”
“Shh, not so loud. The neighbors are annoyed enough.”
Miley dropped her face into her hands. “I’m done with you. We were all concerned over someone who was too busy having threesomes to return calls.”
A man’s voice yelled something from inside the house and Mildred turned around. “Coming, Jaakko!” She then gave Miley a bored look, the same look she’d always had when they’d had fights over the bathroom or the best girl on Flavor of Love.
“Fine, I’m leaving,” Miley said. “But check your phone occasionally, for the love of God.”
“-and then she just sauntered away like I wasn’t mad.”
Miley and Milani were at the brunch place again, a few days after the confrontation. Every few minutes Milani’s phone would buzz so hard the silverware rattled- “Smoothie” was at #83 and the stans were having a GIF party in her DMs.
“I got into beef.”
“With who, irrelevancy?”
Milani’s jaw dropped. “That’s not funny. I have two songs in the Hot 200 right now.”
“You know I’m kidding, right?”
“Of course I do. Now, this beef all started when Azealia…”