There was a baby born named Ida. Its mother held it with her hands to keep Ida from being born but when the time came Ida came. And as Ida came, with her came her twin, so there she was Ida-Ida.
The mother was sweet and gentle and so was the father. The whole family was sweet and gentle except the great-aunt. She was the only exception.
An old woman who was no relation and who had known the great-aunt when she was young was always telling that the great-aunt had had something happen to her oh many years ago, it was a soldier, and then the great-aunt had had little twins born to her and then she had quietly, the twins were dead then, born so, she had buried them under a pear tree and nobody knew.
Nobody believed the old woman perhaps it was true but nobody believed it, but all the family always looked at every pear tree and had a funny feeling.
The grandfather was sweet and gentle too. He liked to say that in a little while a cherry tree does not look like a pear tree.
It was a nice family but they did easily lose each other.
So Ida was born and a very little while after her parents went off on a trip and never came back. That was the first funny thing that happened to Ida.
The days were long and there was nothing to do.
She saw the moon and she saw the sun and she saw the grass and she saw the streets.
The first time she saw anything it frightened her. She saw a little boy and when he waved to her she would not look his way.
She liked to talk and to sing songs and she liked to change places. Wherever she was she always liked to change places. Otherwise there was nothing to do all day. Of course she went to bed early but even so she always could say, what shall I do now, now what shall I do.
Some one told her to say no matter what the day is it always ends the same day, no matter what happens in the year the year always ends one day.
Ida was not idle but the days were always long even in winter and there was nothing to do.
Ida lived with her great-aunt not in the city but just outside.
She was very young and as she had nothing to do she walked as if she was tall as tall as any one. Once she was lost that is to say a man followed her and that frightened her so that she was crying just as if she had been lost. In a little while that is some time after it was a comfort to her that this had happened to her.
She did not have anything to do and so she had time to think about each day as it came. She was very careful about Tuesday. She always just had to have Tuesday. Tuesday was Tuesday to her.
They always had plenty to eat. Ida always hesitated before eating. That was Ida.
One day it was not Tuesday, two people came to see her great-aunt. They came in very carefully. They did not come in together. First one came and then the other one. One of them had some orange blossoms in her hand. That made Ida feel funny. Who were they? She did not know and she did not like to follow them in. A third one came along, this one was a man and he had orange blossoms in his hat brim. He took off his hat and he said to himself here I am, I wish to speak to myself. Here I am. Then he went on into the house.
Ida remembered that an old woman had once told her that she Ida would come to be so much older that not anybody could be older, although, said the old woman, there was one who was older.
Ida began to wonder if that was what was now happening to her. She wondered if she ought to go into the house to see whether there was really any one with her great-aunt, and then she thought she would act as if she was not living there but was somebody just coming to visit and so she went up to the door and she asked herself is any one at home and when they that is she herself said to herself no there is nobody at home she decided not to go in.
“hat was just as well because orange blossoms were funny things to her great-aunt just as pear trees were funny things to Ida.
And so Ida went on growing older and then she was almost sixteen and a great many funny things happened to her. Her great-aunt went away so she lost her great-aunt who never really felt content since the orange blossoms had come to visit her. And now Ida lived with her grandfather. She had a dog, he was almost blind not from age but from having been born so and Ida called him Love, she liked to call him naturally she and he liked to come even without her calling him.
It was dark in the morning any morning but since her dog Love was blind it did not make any difference to him.
It is true he was born blind nice dogs often are. Though he was blind naturally she could always talk to him.
One day she said. Listen Love, but listen to everything and listen while I tell you something.
Yes Love she said to him, you have always had me and now you are going to have two, I am going to have a twin yes I am Love, I am tired of being just one and when I am a twin one of us can go out and one of us can stay in, yes Love yes I am yes I am going to have a twin. You know Love I am like that when I have to have it I have to have it. And I have to have a twin, yes Love.
The house that Ida lived in was a little on top of a hill, it was not a very pretty house but it was quite a nice one and there was a big field next to it and trees at either end of the field and a path at one side of it and not very many flowers ever because the trees and the grass took up so very much room but there was a good deal of space to fill with Ida and her dog Love and anybody could understand that she really did have to have a twin.
She began to sing about her twin and this is the way she sang.
Oh dear oh dear Love, that was her dog, if I had a twin well nobody would know which one I was and which one she was and so if anything happened nobody could tell anything and lots of things are going to happen and oh Love I felt it yes I know it I have a twin.
And then she said Love later on they will call me a suicide blonde because my twin will have dyed her hair. And then they will call me a murderess because there will come the time when I will have killed my twin which I first made come. If you make her can you kill her. Tell me Love my dog tell me and tell her.
Like everybody Ida had lived not everywhere but she had lived in quite a number of houses and in a good many hotels. It was always natural to live anywhere she lived and she soon forgot the other addresses. Anybody does.
There was nothing funny about Ida but funny things did happen to her.
Ida had never really met a man but she did have a plan.
That was while she was still living with her great-aunt. It was not near the water that is unless you call a little stream water or quite a way off a little lake water, and hills beyond it water. If you do not call all these things water then there where Ida was living was not at all near water but it was near a church.
It was March and very cold. Not in the church that was warm. Ida did not often go to church, she did not know anybody and if you do not know anybody you do not often go to church not to a church that is only open when something is going on.
And then she began to know a family of little aunts. There were five of them, they were nobody’s aunts but they felt like aunts and Ida went to church with them. Somebody was going to preach. Was it about life or politics or love? It certainly was not about death, anyway, they asked Ida to go and they all went. It was crowded inside the church cold outside and hot inside. Ida was separated from the aunts, they were little and she could not see them, she was tall as tall as any one and so they could see her.
There was nothing funny about Ida but funny things did happen to her. There she was there was a crowd it was not very light, and she was close against so many, and then she stayed close against one or two, there might have been more room around her but she did not feel that way about it, anyway it was warm being so close to them and she did not know any of them, she did not see any of them, she looked far away, but she felt something, all right she felt something, and then the lecture or whatever it was was over.
She went out, everybody did, and soon she met the five little aunts, they did not seem to be liking her very much but they all went on together, it was cold it was in March and there was almost snow. There were trees of course there was a sidewalk but nobody was on it except themselves, and then all of a sudden some one a man of course jumped out from behind the trees and there was another with him. Ida said to the aunts go on go on quickly I will walk back of you to protect you, the aunts hurried on, Ida hurried a little less quickly, she turned toward the men but they were gone. The five aunts and Ida went on, they said good-night to her but she never saw them again. These were the first and last friends she ever had, and she really never went to church again not really.
Copyright © 2012 by Gertrude Stein. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.