By Erika Lesage
I had already gotten a drink, ate some crackers, and went to the bathroom. Nothing could help fill the pit in my stomach. Dianna was leaving for college tomorrow whether I was ready or not. But this was not something that could be fixed on its own. I knew I needed to grow up and set things right with my little sister.
Her fists clenched my curly blonde hair as she pulled downwards twisting my neck towards the floor. I could no longer see since she had punched the lens out of my glasses. With my eyes closed, I sunk my fist into her flaming hot cheek. I could feel her wince as my thumb nail clawed into her jaw. Our mom must have heard the exchange of blows because she was now squishing her bony hands between us. Jon suddenly had his arms holding me like a strait jacket.
This had become so normal lately that there were no flailing arms or shouts to stop. They both knew who to grab and how to hold on to them. My sister is one of the tallest people in our short family. She is easily five and a half feet tall, if not more. In order to stop her, my mom reached one arm over her skeleton-like shoulder and the other under her armpit. She interlocked her fingers like a seatbelt she was always telling us to wear.
I was the complete opposite. When asked my height, I have had the same answer since I was 16- five one and one quarter. Most people laugh when I include the one quarter but it is one less quarter Dianna can use to her advantage. My boyfriend Jon restrains me by squeezing my arms by my side. He often gets a mouthful of hair and the occasional fat lip if I’m really mad.
This time we give in to our captors and are easily pulled apart. It has been a long summer and it is nearly over. Even professional athletes haven’t strained themselves as much as we have the past three months. Our mom is sick of the constant fighting and only waits a few moments to charge Dianna with the fight. I’m so exhausted I can’t even close my mouth at the astonishment of Dianna getting blamed once again for my actions.
“Just get away from her, go away and leave her alone. You always just pick at her until she hits you,” our mom screamed at Dianna. The tall fearless giant that had been pounding on me is so strong she won’t even drop a tear before running upstairs.
You couldn’t get two more opposite people than me and my sister. She has a skin that is thicker than rubber and a mindset that could get her into the oval office. When she bought her new cell phone for $200 and then the next day saw it advertised for only $100, she screamed at the cell phone company for over an hour before getting the $100 back, a free pair of ear buds, and another $100 credit to our bill. I’m not saying her way doesn’t get results, but I just hate how good she is at it. When I even sense a fight my whole body convulses; I hate it.
Jon put a cigarette in his mouth before we were even outside. He fished a lighter out of his pocket as quick as if he was looking for an inhaler to breathe. He inhaled for longer than normal and slowly let it blow across my face. I had promised him that if he was going to stay here this summer that I wouldn’t fight with her anymore. He had chosen to stay here in order to avoid the same verbal fights he had with his sister. When Dianna and I fought, it made him feel as if he hadn’t avoided anything except for the parents that he loved.
“Why do you always have to attack her?” Jon questioned through his rapid puffs.
“Because she needs to respect me. I’m older and I don’t care if she is taller. She always thinks she is better than me and she acts like such a bitch all the time. If I don’t beat some sense into her then someone else will,” I replied. The truth is that I don’t think anyone could ever beat the sense into her thick skull. She was going to be her and that was that.
I heard a loud exchange of words between her and our mother. Dianna unsuccessfully tried again to explain that I had caused the fight. Mom had already decided that she was bored with the matter and began to puff her problems away; it was a constant smell in our house. Jon and I heard a loud thud going down the stairs. Dianna had packed up her clothes and was doing exactly what my mom had clearly asked- she was leaving.
“Who is going to pick you up? Are you going to whine to Devin that I beat you up again?” I taunted. Devin and Dianna broke up months ago and I knew I could always get a rise out of her by telling her he loved his new girlfriend more than he ever loved her. In actuality, she had broken up with him after she realized she was too good for him and that his girlfriend was just an attempt to get his mind off of her when she had no use for him.
“Erika, just give me my wallet and leave me alone,” Dianna spit through her tight lips. This fight had started because I hid her shoes and wallet that she was constantly leaving around the kitchen after I spent all day cleaning it. I personally didn’t care for sparking clean green countertops but it was one thing I always made sure I did in order to win points with my mom. These points had come in handy today when I got off scot-free for the fight.
When I told her that I was not going to give them to her she whipped my iPhone into the golden yellow wall in the kitchen. My glasses were still broken from the fight so all I could rely on was a vague sense of her position and I struck her again. It was a quick well placed jab to the temple and she got me with a powerful uppercut to my jaw bone. Mom didn’t even bother coming down the stairs and left Jon to break it up on his own.
She asked me again where her stuff was after Devin’s car roared into the driveway. He was always trying to show off as if he was compensating for being grossly overweight. His car was a brand new two door Audi, but he had only given Dianna a $.99 card and a picture of him for her birthday. He had his priorities and that is why Dianna was no longer with him.
I pointed to the large armoire my mom’s boyfriend had brought into our already small house. Her stuff was hidden in plain sight to make her even angrier that she hadn’t seen it in the first place. As the door slammed behind her, I collapsed to me knees and felt every punch hit me at the same time. I screamed at how bad it hurt and my mom came rushing down immediately. I was once again the center of attention. My mom handed me a frozen bag of peas to put on my swollen face and Jon was working hard to fix my glasses.
It took some time to calm my nerves down to the point that I could begin to talk. Jon asked me if I would like to go rent a movie and get some candy. Around him I felt like a kid. He could make any pain go away by making me laugh and take my mind off of anything troubling by promising me sweets.
When we got to the store, I picked out a new movie he and I had wanted to see. He said I could get another movie if I wanted. I had wanted to see a really girly chick flick but I instead chose the last Harry Potter movie that I had seen a million times. Jon asked me why I would want to see this again when we just saw it last weekend; I told him that I wanted to get it for my mom to watch. She was the main supporter of my Harry Potter addiction and she still hadn’t seen it. I didn’t often give up a chance to earn some more points.
We got back to the house with Snickers, Sour Patch Kids, popcorn, and Snow Drops (my mom’s favorite). My mom was taking her one of her infamous middle of the day naps. When I was young these had infuriated me since I always had to watch Dianna on my own. As I got older I began to realize this was precious time I could use to break the few rules I had been given. We watched our movie first, and for the first time that week I just relaxed. I didn’t need to have my guard up since Dianna wasn’t home. I laughed my weird, snorting, gasping for breath, tearing laugh and it felt good. My mom came down and sat down with her arm around me to watch the Harry Potter movie.
Dianna had been gone for about four hours now and no one seemed worried. It’s not like she had taken off with a complete stranger or was walking somewhere in the city; she was with dorky Devin. Something was off though. When we fight we just ignore each other for a few hours until one of us does something stupid and makes the other one laugh. But this time she had left. She was done with work for the summer and she didn’t have that many friends. She would be sick of Devin soon and want to come home.
I woke up the next morning and passed by her empty room. It was a disaster zone with her bright bedazzled clothes thrown everywhere. But it looked just as it had yesterday when she left. Our Rottweiler, Bronson, was stretched out in her bed and she was nowhere to be seen. I made my way downstairs thinking she was in the kitchen or the living room but she wasn’t.
I tried to hide my worry as I asked my mom if she had talked to Dianna. My mom rolled over in bed and told me not to bother her since she was sleeping. Being the bigger person I couldn’t just call her because then it would show that I was weaker. I waited for my mom to wake up, and she tried calling Dianna but every time it just went to voicemail. My mom must have left about three messages, but I called another twenty or so times just hoping to hear her tell me to stop calling; I never did.
The next two days went about the same. I tried my hardest to act like I didn’t care where she was but I was freaking out. When we were young, Dianna would just take off if she felt like going. She did it at the gym if she wanted to play in the pool and she did it in the store when she wanted to see the toys. Every time it was my responsibility to bring her back. I had to check every isle and hallway until I found her. Eventually she would turn up near the bikes, or in the Women’s over 18 locker room. She wouldn’t know that I had been worried to the point of tears, thinking that she abducted or hurt. She just knew she was headed where she wanted to go and that was all that mattered.
My mom became increasingly worried on the third day since Dianna was supposed to be leaving for college soon and she hadn’t even begun to pack. Dianna was going to her first year of college at Suffolk University in Boston- a school that I couldn’t have even dreamed of going to. She was already best friends with the eight girls she was going to be living with and had a scholarship that would make any parent ecstatic. I was a Worcester State- the local college that accepted almost anyone who had completed high school. My cousins, sisters, brother, mom, dad, and stepmom helped me move in every semester. Dianna was going to be dropped off by my mom, and my dad said he would try to move her in if he didn’t have to work.
Unfortunately for her this was normal. I was a JV cheerleader in high school and Dianna played Varsity basketball. Most times our events wouldn’t overlap but in cases where it did, it was clearly illustrated once again that I was the favorite. I would have everyone taking videos of me and cheering me on, while Dianna was sinking unwatched three pointers.
Dianna came home on the third day after my mom called Devin’s mom and told her to make Devin bring her home. She did things her way and didn’t come home until 11:59 PM. The next morning we all were anticipating a screaming upset Dianna, but we were all mistaken. She didn’t speak to anyone. If she came out of her room it was to get some food and bring it back up to her room. I began to think it would be the most awkward six days until she left for college. Jon and her had always been really good friends and she could always register her complaints about me with him. But even when he tried to talk to her she would shut him out. The only person who hear her talk was her best friend in the house, Bronson.
Brons, as we called him, was always Dianna’s dog. Whenever we would fight he would always bark at me as if he knew I was to blame, even if my mom falsely blamed her. I could never understand how she could get him to let her lay on him. If I even touched the dog he would growl and look at me as if I was about to lose my arm. Dogs always know when someone is hurt, or sick, or sad. I sometimes think that is why Brons loves her the most.
Dianna was leaving for college the next morning and I couldn’t sleep. My little sister was going to be in Boston studying pre-law. Younger siblings were not supposed to be better than older siblings. I was proud of myself; I was in college and doing something I really loved. But Dianna was going to live in Boston and become a lawyer. My silly dream of being a teacher would never get me the money or respect that she would get being a lawyer. I still lived five minutes from home and she was going to the capital about an hour and a half away from home. She was accomplishing more in one semester than I had in my three years.
I fell asleep with tears in my eyes feeling like I had a paper participation ribbon compared to her golden M.V.P trophy.
I picked my head up off the pillow and peaked out the door. Down the hallway Dianna’s light was on. This was the last chance I had to say goodbye before she would leave not knowing I loved her. I went downstairs instead. I didn’t want to be the first one to apologize. I was older and she should apologize to me. As I said this aloud, I realized I sounded like a child- a stubborn, bratty child. I grabbed two cups from the cabinet and filled them with cold water from the fridge. I took a little sip of hers to make my cup have a little more. I walked up the stairs quietly trying not to spill any water while I equalized the cups. Her door was slightly opened just asking me to come in but I hesitated.
I composed myself to be able to apologize and I walked into her room. She was sitting on her bed with her face buried in Bronson’s side. For a second I thought she was crying, but it was Dianna- she isn’t scared of anything. Why would she be crying? She looked up at me with big swollen red eyes. Holy crap, she was crying! I put the waters down on her desk and put my arms around her. Neither of us talked; she just silently sobbed into my shoulder. Brons took the hint and left the room wearing what looked like one of his half smiles.
Dianna is doing well in Boston, but she misses home a lot. She calls our mom almost every day and texted me last week to tell me about her 97 on her math exam. The exam looked like another language to me but she was really smart, so it must have been easy for her. When she came home last weekend, we went out to a night club and had a really great time. We don’t need a Hallmark card apology, this is who we are. We fight but we love each other and it works for us.