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

May 30, 2009
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Call me sentimental, but I like happy endings.

There are countless movies that, through their poignant or even tragic endings, reveal profound truths about life. These movies, experts tell us, are true masterpieces. These are the movies that truly matter. These are the movies that leave you red-eyed and sniveling, groping frantically for a tissue, trying to blow your nose quietly enough so that no one else notices what a soft-hearted sucker you are.

I'm always the one groping for tissues.

Perhaps the plugs responsible for staunching water leaks in my body have a mysterious defect. Perhaps I'm allergic to tragic endings the way some are allergic to pizza or chocolate-covered peanuts. Or perhaps, as I often assure myself, my soppiness is a sign of a tender, sensitive heart. But whatever the reason, sad endings always send me into a downward spiral of tears and tissues.

The DVD had been resting on the table innocently enough, with its boring black casing and title stamped across the front in bold text. The title contained none of the warning signs I had come to recognize over the years. So when my little sister shoved the DVD into the player and collapsed into the armchair, I didn't leave the room, even though I could feel the tension emanating from her tightened muscles and clenched jaw. My sister doesn't like being in a room with me. Most days, she stalks right past the living room and storms up to her room. Maybe it's one of those stages moody teenagers go through.

But the mysterious movie intrigued me. She would have to endure my company for a few hours. I sprawled out on the couch, resting my head in the crook of my arm. An impatient sigh came from the other side of the room. Ignoring her, I snatched a box of Twinkies from the shelf behind me, selected one, and tore the wrapper open with zest.

By the end of the film, the Twinkie wrappers beside me had multiplied into a towering mound, my nose was blotchy, my eyes felt as if they had been wrung through a washing machine, and I had dissolved into blubbering mass of jelly.

Briefly, I considered the possibility that my sister had brought this movie home on purpose to watch me dissolve into tears and then triumph in my humiliation. Big sisters like to maintain an appearance of careless superiority in front of their younger siblings, but my mask had slipped. I had to find someone to blame.

But I knew my sister would never go to so much trouble on my account. After all, she had done her best to cut me out of her life. She no longer crept under my covers at four in the morning so she could tell me about a rampant dinosaur that had invaded her dreams, or checked my bowl of cereal to make sure she was eating the same kind. She no longer gazed at me with fervent admiration when I explained why rain fell or what made leaves green. Sometimes I longed to whack her on the head. Who was this cold stranger who ended every sentence with an exasperated sigh, or rolled her eyes impatiently whenever my parents asked her about her friends or lunch? Other times I wished that I could throw my arms around the sister I had once known and never let go.

In reality, I had already let go. Once my sister began to treat me with less reverence, I, too, started to withdraw. Dinners were now punctuated only by the scrape of a spoon or the creak of a chair – pride forbade me from speaking to a person who would only answer with a roll of the eye or a brusque nod. When was the last time we discussed her new crush or giggled over the latest gossip?

My tears had now mingled with the half-chewed Twinkie in my mouth, and my tongue tingled with a bizarre sweet-and-salty tang. With an enormous yawn, I began blinking furiously, as though I was simply trying to remove a particularly stubborn eyelash.

Then I peeked across the room. She was sitting at an awkward angle, her legs draped over one arm of the chair, her body pressed into the seat, her face turned away. Good. She hadn't seen me with tears and snot smeared all over my face. I rubbed my soggy eyes and reached for the shelf, fingers searching desperately for the box of tissues I had placed there the day before.

The tissues were gone.

And then I saw it, resting on the table beside her, tantalizingly close yet unreachably far. I tried to stem the flood that blurred my eyes, but it was no use. I would have to get my hands on that tissue box. Inching slyly along the couch, I reached – and then she shifted. My arms hastily stretched toward the ceiling instead. Another theatrical yawn. The snot flowed backward, and my graceful yawn ended in a hacking cough.

She twisted around, and I prepared to fend off any insult with a sharp retort. Yet, she remained silent. She had a puzzled look on her face, and looked more relaxed, more vulnerable than I had seen her in a long time. The perpetual frown was gone.

As I watched, a tear trickled down her nose.

We stared at each other in embarrassed silence, both faces washed clean of expression, though sticky with tears. No mask of superior indifference or inexplicable annoyance. Just me and my sister, peering at one another through newly adjusted lenses.

And I knew that underneath the eye-rolling and sarcastic comments, she was still there. I just had to dig a little deeper.

Whether a story will end happily ever after is something beyond our control. The most we can do is grasp the opportunities we are given. I decided to take the first step.

“Pass the tissues, please.”

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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This article has 17 comments. Post your own now!

AelissNovak said...
Mar. 30, 2012 at 12:53 am
This is great, I have never felt that way because if anything I have grown closer to my sisters in the past couple years. :D
bwriter24 said...
Jan. 24, 2012 at 6:24 pm
just absolutely loved it!
AnabelleDucrois said...
Jan. 2, 2012 at 10:07 pm
I really loved it! This was so touching and lovely. I don't have an older sister, so I can't really relate, but I really really loved it. :)
HollerGirl26 said...
Sept. 14, 2011 at 6:07 pm
THIS IS AWESOME!! I can relate..I guess I am the li'l sis.. :)
Pumpkinscout said...
Sept. 14, 2011 at 4:58 pm
Sweet story :) Love it!
rosabella14 said...
Aug. 1, 2011 at 5:57 pm
I loved the story!
SamIsSmiling said...
Jun. 6, 2011 at 2:02 pm
I loved it! I guess I'm kind of like the little sister :P But its now bugging me, what movie was it? haha
EyesWideShut This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 18, 2011 at 12:10 pm
Absolutely adorable. :) I have a little sister too...but she's hanging on to my every word yet.
_Snow_ said...
Dec. 2, 2010 at 12:45 pm
aww :) my sister and I are too far apart in age for this... or at least, we should be, but she's already like a teenager at the age of 8.
Oranges_24 said...
Nov. 16, 2010 at 9:58 pm
awwwwwwww this is sooooo cute! i wouldn't relate to it cuz well i don't have a sister i have pure brothers...but its so sad i cried cuz i have a tender sensitive heart!
notebookgirl said...
Apr. 26, 2010 at 9:25 pm
sounds a lot like me and my sister even though its fiction except that im the one who rolls her eyes and i dont tend to cry at movies :)
SBloodClassicAlice said...
Mar. 5, 2010 at 7:05 pm
I couldn't tell that the story was fiction, until I read these comments and rememebered that I had clicked on the 'Fiction' section, lol.
Beautiful job. Love, despise, and a little despair entwined to make a pretty, colorful story.
Koodos... lol
samidvd96 said...
Feb. 15, 2010 at 5:33 pm
awwwwww it reminds me of my cousins but we were so close you could of called us sisters
Booklover13 said...
Jan. 5, 2010 at 8:27 pm
Your writing is really good. it reminded me of how me and my sister used to be. Even though this story is fiction it sounded is so real i had to remind myself it wasn't. good job :-)
TPgrange123 said...
Dec. 30, 2009 at 3:54 pm
When I read this, I see my younger sister and me during one of the rare moments when we are united by a common interest, just as if I was 8 and she was 6 again. Whether its a sappy movie or our horrible math teachers, we can still find points of connection, despite our differences. Thank you for your beautiful story.
Prd101 said...
Dec. 29, 2009 at 12:12 am
Wow that story was really good. The details were great! This was a geat peice of realistic fiction! Keep writing :)
luvtwilight said...
Jun. 19, 2009 at 7:49 pm
That was super good! I really enjoyed it and it almost made me cry. Great god on the details! It was awesome! Please read my work as well. I'm luvtwilight from Ashville, OH. Some of my pieces include Memories, A Fox Tail For Me, West Virginia, Best Friend and more. I would REALLY appreciate feedback.
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