Sisters

by

My sister counted out the m&m’s and I just know she always gave herself a few more than she gave me. Particularly the red ones, which we licked and used to paint our lips like grown up women.  She was halfway between the world of ladies and little kids like me so maybe I can’t blame her for taking advantage of her position. Maybe–though I don’t think so–maybe I would have done the same thing to Felicia had she lived.

Audrey was eleven, I was seven, and Felicia was almost two that summer. We didn’t share candy with Felicia because my mother said she could choke on it and die. We didn’t care, it meant more for us and besides, she got lots of special treatment that we didn’t get because she was the baby so we figured it all evened out. Even in Audrey’s lopsided version of fair it worked out all right for everyone.

That summer, that Saturday when my mother went to the corner for eggs and left us alone with my dad for half an hour was when Felicia fell out the bedroom window and broke her skull on the sidewalk below. The worst part was probably the fact that my mother found her out there before any of us even knew she was missing. We lived on the second floor and our bedroom faced the street though Felicia’s crib was against an inside wall. Audrey’s bed and mine were on each side of a window. Later they figured that Felicia climbed up on Audrey’s bed and tried to reach the window and her weight pushed the screen out along with her. We never  heard Felicia but my mother’s screams still bounce through my brain sometimes.

My father was never the same after that, or maybe he was the same but was drunk all the time instead of just Friday nights. My mother wasn’t nice to him at all and I think she blamed him for Felicia’s death or on his drinking or maybe for both. Audrey and I never talked about it except when it came up a few weeks ago, decades after it happened and with my parents both dead. We were talking about the kids and how they were all in colleges or married and anyway, all scattered across the U.S. We complained to each other about the rare visits from them all and worried that we’d never get to really know our grandchildren. We showed each other the latest pictures we’d downloaded onto our laptops and I pointed out Greta, our oldest boy Rob’s little girl who looked just like I remembered Felicia.

Audrey got restless, said she had to get some things done and had better be going. It was after I washed out the glasses and emptied the nuts from the little crystal bowl back into the tin that I noticed all the filberts had been picked out.

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