“Shelarya!” David called out. The Peresi was sitting on a bench around one of the magnificent fountains nestled in Treshaddi’s branches. He ran down a thinner branch that connected the bough he was on to the plaza. It was only about a foot thick, and he had to hold his arms out for balance as he ran.

She glanced up when she heard her name, but when she saw David, a confused expression fell over her face.

“How may I assist you?” she asked. She was clearly trying not to look at his ears, like most Peresi did the first time they met him. This was more than a little confusing, since the first time he spoke with Shelarya, she didn’t bother to hide it and stared openly.

“I just wanted to say hi,” he said, panting a little from the run.

Her mouth tightened. “I will forgive you your rudeness this time. You shouldn’t use ‘varay’ to greet people who are not your lira… that means close friends.”

“I know what lira means,” David said. Why was Shelarya acting so strange? “We’ve been lira for months now.”

“I think I’d know if I’d met the Human before, much less given him the name of my home-tree. I don’t believe I have any lira on Treshaddi.”

If this was some kind of joke, David thought, it wasn’t funny. “You’re from Nyemia. You told me so yourself.”

“That’s not my home-tree,” she said, sounding irritated. “You must be…” She trailed off. “I’m sorry. I guess I must have a twin.”

“How do you not know if you have a twin sister?”

“I don’t know you well enough to share that story. I wasn’t told I had a twin. Let’s leave it at that.”

David rubbed at his forehead. “I’m missing something. I’m guessing Peresi treat twins differently than humans do.”

“Don’t Humans separate twins at birth?”

“Only in soap operas,” David said, smiling weakly. This just got him a chirp of confusion. “Human joke,” he said, “but no, twins are usually raised together.”

“Maybe it’s different with Humans, but with Peresi, we separate twins so the two halves of soul they possess can grow. One child is selected and sent to another home-tree.”

“I see,” David said. He said that whenever he had to force himself not to judge the Peresi based on his own preconceptions. He was fairly proud of himself for not having to say it in some time. “And they don’t tell the children they have a twin?”

“The child is normally told when they’re old enough. Circumstances prevented my parents from telling me. If you know my sister, I would be honored if you would introduce us.”

“Sure,” he said, “but this sounds like the kind of thing I should talk to her about first.”

She nodded. “Yes, you should. I might need some time to process this myself. Shall we meet here tomorrow?”

“All right.” David turned, already trying to figure out the best way to tell Shelarya about this, when a thought struck him. “I never learned your name.”

Shelarya’s twin chirped. “But you already called me by name.”

“I called you your sister’s name,” he said. “Is this a coincidence, or do all Peresi twins have the same name.”

“We do,” she said.

“You realize that’s just asking for confusing encounters like this, right?”

The other Shelarya laughed, chittering just like her sister did.

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