The Tagalong

October 23, 2007
By MaryBeth Petrie, Harrisburg, PA

My ears burned as Kia rambled on about the color of my underwear, attempting to embarrass me. I was growing impatient, but I wouldn’t let her know. She wanted a reaction, and she defiantly wasn’t going to get it.

Kassandra and Krystin gave each other identical looks. They’re annoyed faces glanced towards me for a split-second, signaling me to get my sister to be quiet. It bothered them from the beginning that Kia had to come, but I had no choice. If I wanted to hang out with my friends, she had to tagalong.

We knew that we shouldn’t complain, since it would only do more damage than good. Our only comfort was that the corner store was near by, and soon we could get away from the irritation.

As another attempt to make my face turn red, the complaining started.

“Are we there yet?” Kia moaned. She began to pout, and the twins tensed up. They were getting frustrated, and it seemed they would both join Kia and her complaints. The only good thing was that she was no longer talking about my undergarments.

“Soon, sweetie,” I used as a reply, attempting to sooth her, as well as myself.

Once we reached the street across from the store, I grabbed her small, chubby hand and she tried to push me away, as any six-year-old would. They want to be like grownups, and a signal that you‘re getting older is being allowed to cross a street by yourself.

“I’m a big girl now!” she protested as she crossed her arms so I couldn’t reach her hands. I sighed, and began my bribe.

“If you listen to me, and follow my directions, you can pick out something once we cross the street.” Satisfied, Kia grabbed my hand.

In unison, we sighed with relief that we were finally there. The tagalong would wonder off in her own world, deciding what she would get, while the rest of us gossiped with our friends.

Once we found our usual group, we talked about the latest fashions, and other unnecessary things. As I laughed, I nearly forgot about Kia. She stool impatiently behind me, ready to leave. Silently, she showed me what she wanted, and I groaned. It wasn’t the cost that bothered me, but the fact that I had to now leave my friends.

Kia’s talkativeness began again once we started walking to the register. She told me everything that was going on in her first grade class, but it simply went in one ear and out the other. It wasn’t that important to me that Billy stole Jane’s pencil, or who had the best toys. If my friends weren’t there, I might have at least cared enough to engage in conversation. Right now, though, I just wanted to be surrounded by the people who interest me.

“Don’t eat it now. Wait until after dinner, okay?” I commanded as I gave the chocolate bar to my sister.

Once I started heading back to my friends, Kia reminded me that she wanted to leave. I whipped my head around at the sound of my name, and completely ignored the kid. She was tugging on my sleeve, but other things were on my mind. My not-so-secret crush was walking through the store doors.

“Hi, Rylee,” the cutest boy in all of the eighth grade said to me. I waved back, wishing that Kia would mysteriously vanish, so there would be no possible way for her to embarrass me.

He came towards me, and my sister became irritated, knowing that we would talk. I signaled her to get lost, but she remained, as if her feet were firmly glued to the floor.

I didn’t realize Brenton was accompanied by a friend until they reached me.

“How are you?” he asked, nervously. I could feel Kia begin to hide herself behind me. I replied with a typical answer and examined his face. His blue eyes sparkled, and his blonde, wavy hair was neatly brushed. Brenton was absolutely perfect with his tanned face and amazing body. It was good enough for me that he knew my existence, nevertheless, be talking to me right now.

“This is Toby, my cousin,” he mentioned, introducing his boy next to him. Toby looked about a year or two younger than us, and I barely paid attention to him.

My tagalong sister was half-hidden by my body when I introduced her.

“Hey, kiddo,” Brenton cooed in a voice that you normally would talk to a two-year-old with. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes as I thought about what Kia was probably thinking.

Shyly, Kia waved back, ignoring the fact that he just belittled her. I was suddenly grateful that Toby was there. He began to talk to the normally talkative child, allowing Brenton and I to discuss more mature things.

My ears grew hot once again. Kia became more comfortable talking with Toby, and decided to move on to Brenton.

“Rylee likes you,” she had said, causing my embarrassed reaction. “I hear her talk about you all the time with her friends.” She pointed to my classmates, who were intensively watching how our conversation was going.

The room was increasing in temperature, and I regrettably wished Kia or myself would suddenly drop dead. Guilt spread through me at the though of wishing death upon my only sister. It was wrong, and I knew it.

I loved Kia so much, even if she did embarrass me from time to time. She was fun to be around and had a bigger imagination that I ever had. The stuff she can come up with is so incredibly funny, and I began to understand more of why she enjoyed causing misery towards me while I was with my friends.

She was jealous of them. Kia wanted me all to herself. She needed someone to goof around with, and for someone to be nice to her. When I’m with my friends, and she immediately becomes the tagalong, she feels left out and wants to be a part of us. It doesn’t happen all the time. The twins and I occasionally play games with her and tell her random stories that we make up on the spot, but we were growing apart. Kassandra and Krystin no longer wished to play those games. They wanted to do things that normal eighth graders do, and be surrounded by friends 99% of the time.

Next time, I promised myself, Kia would be involved a little bit more in our discussions.

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