The Reflection This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   I was embarrassed at what I saw and what I was doing. I was only nine years old, so what I was looking at was a big deal. At the time I felt like I should not be looking at this reflection that was satisfying my curiosity, and now I feel the same way. However, I was nine years old, and what nine-year-old would not have done the same thing?

My parents went to my brother's baseball game and left my sister to look after me. She had been seeing her 18-year-old boyfriend for the whole summer, and it bothered me. Elizabeth was only 15 and acted as if she were the finest thing that walked on earth. Joe (her summer fling) was what I called a lady's man. He drove a Jaguar and was a clean-cut guy who would do anything to make his girlfriend happy. He did everything for my sister: bought her presents, took her out a lot, and told her things that would flatter her. That bothered me.

When my parents drove out of the garage, Elizabeth called Joe and told him to come over. I thought to myself that I would rather do anything than spend the afternoon with Joe. My sister made sandwiches for Joe and me, and the three of us sat at the kitchen table eating lunch. The conversation only concerned Joe and Elizabeth, so I was basically shunned. When I finished my sandwich, I told them I was going upstairs to play Nintendo. I felt like it would be nice of me to leave them alone, but I really did not mind getting away from them.

After a half hour of playing Icarus, I decided that I'd had enough Nintendo for the time being. I didn't want to go downstairs with Joe and Elizabeth because I knew they didn't want to hang around with a nine-year-old. However, I was curious to see what they were doing.

I could hear their voices in the den. I carefully walked out of my parents' room trying not to make a sound. I squatted down and looked in the reflection of the portrait of my sister that was hanging on the stairway wall. In her portrait, she was smiling and looked very happy. The reflection gave a clear view of the den where Joe and Elizabeth were. I have looked into this reflection many times to see if my mom and dad were still awake, and if they weren't, I would go downstairs to watch TV. Now there was a new purpose to my looking.

Elizabeth and Joe started out standing and kissing. Usually, I only saw this sort of thing in the movies and never from my own sister. This was a surprise to me, and I felt very awkward. A side of me wanted to just go to my room and forget about what was going on, but my other side was too curious.

The next thing I knew was that they were on the couch. I hated Joe more because I didn't like watching this. But I wanted to watch it because I was curious, like a cat at a window crouched up watching a bird flying outside, and all it can do is sit there with its eyes wide open wishing it could do something about it. And now, looking into my sister's eyes through the portrait stirred a feeling in my stomach. The feeling you get when you're carsick: the feeling of guilt. Her eyes seemed to have closed a little, giving me the fish eye, like she knew I was crouched on the floor looking at he, and didn't like it one bit. As I peered at my sister, I felt as if Elizabeth was watching me, and at any minute she was going to yell at me for my actions.

After about ten minutes my sister stopped the scene and got up. That was my cue to run to my room.

"Harriet!" She yelled.

"Yeah?" I responded, wondering what she wanted.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm playing Nintendo."

"Do you want to go to a movie or something?"

"That would be fun," I said, thanking God that scene was over.

I went downstairs and sat on the couch. Joe got up. "I'm gonna go," he said.

"Why?" I asked, maybe a little too cheerfully.

"I have to do something with my grandmother."

"I'll walk you out," my sister said.

"Bye," I said.

"Bye, Harriet. See you later."

I wish he hadn't said that, but I knew that would not be possible. The two of them went down the hallway and said their good-byes. I sat on the couch where the incident had happened, and I was disgusted. I got up and walked to the kitchen. My sister walked in a couple of minutes later.

"What's wrong?" my sister asked noticing that I glared at her.

"Do you really like Joe?" I asked.

"Well, yeah. Why?"

"He just doesn't seem like the best boyfriend."

"You just don't understand. You've never had a boyfriend, so you wouldn't know why I like Joe so much."

"Yeah, but he's so old and ..."

"Age doesn't matter."

"I just don't like him."

"I don't care. You are a nine-year-old who hasn't experienced a thing," my sister yelled back and then walked into the den and watched TV. I followed her and sat down on a chair in the room. I felt so young and naive. I wished I could have understood how she felt, but I didn't. But now I look at her knowing that what she is going through is what I will be going through in five years. 1


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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