Missing Something This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Every time he called, mysister would lock herself in her bedroom and, as I could hear when I plastered myear to the door, she would giggle and whisper sweetly until she reluctantly beganher 15-minute good-bye.

When she finally brought him home, I was angrythat he called me Lynnie instead of Lynne, as though his dark, neat sideburns andshiny black pickup placed him generations above me. I pursed my lips, forced asweet smile, and turned to my sister with a look of bitter disappointment. Shedidn't catch it, though - she was too busy gazing hopelessly at his tight, tannedface, a dopey half-smile on hers. I rolled my eyes dramatically enough for him tosee, and loudly charged upstairs to finish my spelling homework while theywandered hand in hand into the kitchen to have coffee and cheesecake with myparents.

On hot Saturdays he came over in his navy blue swim trunks toswim in our in-ground pool. His hair fell in loose, wet clumps that stuck to hisforehead. He splashed my sister until she shrieked like an eight-year-old andraced around the pool on her tiptoes, flapping her arms by her side. I glaredover my red heart-shaped sunglasses as he grabbed her skinny body, golden beneatha light pink bikini, and tossed her affectionately back into the water. Droppingmy latest Ramona Quimby book on my towel, I peered down at my black one-piecesuit, any form in my chest barely detectable.

When they shouted,"Lynne, come in the water!" I just grinned politely and returned to mybook, pretending to be engrossed in Ramona's latest predicament.

Then hestarted appearing at the kitchen table or on the living-room sofa when I got homefrom school. His clumsy sneakers were always resting either on the coffee tableor kitchen table, and he'd be munching on Doritos or pretzels or bite-sizedSnickers, one arm in the bag of food, the other draped around my sister. She'dsnuggle up next to him and tickle his stomach and sides, making only herselfgiggle. I started spending afternoons at my best friend Jenna's house where we'dtake turns riding her pink Huffy around the block, or share a bowl of ice creamwhile watching "M*A*S*H" reruns.

Usually if I came home afterfive o'clock he was gone, leaving behind only chip or pretzel crumbs on thecarpet, but one evening my parents invited him to stay for dinner. They lit thecandles on the table, the tall white ones we use during Christmas instead of therunty, scentless kind that are our centerpiece the rest of the year. I kept oneeye open during grace, which he insisted on reciting, to watch my sister gazeridiculously at him as he recited some rhyming children's prayer he seemed tothink was from the Bible. My sister then placed her napkin across her lap, ateher peas one at a time, and cut her meat into little nibbles. I missed the dayswhen we giggled and slid our broccoli under the tablecloth, blew bubbles in ourmilk and tried to burp loudly enough to scare the cat out of the room. She alwayswon.

He broke up with her on a Tuesday, the day I had my karate lessondowntown. I came home to find her hidden under a pile of tissues and pictures ofthem at parties and dances.

I asked her what happened, and she told me,between sobs, that he needed space. But I didn't understand how he could needspace if he lived all the way across town. When I told her that she half-laughed,half-sobbed, and pulled me close. I leaned down and hugged her, smelling thefamiliar scent of her shampoo and perfume. She held me for a minute and thenpulled back, looking at me with a worried, mascara-streaked face.

"Is there something wrong with me?" she asked, so intensely that I wasfrightened.

Something wrong? There was nothing wrong with my sister.She could roller-skate without falling down, make really good spaghetti, do aperfect cartwheel, and burp much louder than I could. I told her that there wasno way I would ever break up with her.

She chuckled, and I studied herpuffy red eyes, smeared make-up, tangled hair, and thought, All this for a boy?Then I realized there must be something I was missing, something I didn'tunderstand yet about the realities of being a girl.

But I just laughed andhelped her wash her puffy face with cold water. Then we decided to goroller-skating and fall down as much as possible.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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littlemissoctopus said...
Dec. 26, 2008 at 10:04 pm
this was so good bc its absolutley true!!!! keep on writing, you've got talent!
 
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