Memories of a Bloodless Sisterhood
You don’t get to play the dead sister card when none of the people you want to slight with it ever knew she existed.
But, oh, all those times you’ve wanted to try anyway.
In high school, on the first day of freshman English, Ms. Dean asked if you had an older sister. You look familiar, she said. I do, but she never went here. Also, she’s dead, you’d reply. Guilt “A”s for the rest of the semester, probably. But you just said no.
That time Alex called your (younger) sister a bitch on your second band trip, his first, you didn’t say, Which one, Shay or the dead one? But you could’ve. He wouldn’t have cared enough to pry further.
When you find out she’s living in Tacoma and she’s dying of brain cancer, the only person you want to tell is Jack, who thought you were the older sister until this moment. So Jack says, What am I supposed to do? And you reply, What am I supposed to do?
Pat calls to tell you it’s over. I loved her, he says. I’m sorry I couldn’t reach you sooner. She wouldn’t have wanted you to, you reply, choking back sobs. I know, he says, but I’m still sorry. I’m sorry too, you say.
You haven’t been up there since it happened, at least not in body. But every once in a while, your dreams take you to the meadow where you imagine her headstone sits. These nighttime sojourns keep you from lingering too long, trying to catch memories that have long since turned to ashes.
Christine M. Hopkins is a writer and journalist living in Des Moines, Iowa. She enjoys noveling, playing several instruments, and combining her journalism and psychology degrees to secretly analyze others. Her poetry and prose has appeared in and/or, tiny poetry: macropoetics, shufPoetry, and the Dubuque Area Writers Guild’s 2016 and 2017 galleries. Follow her on Twitter @christineiniowa.