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Only three hours before I leave for college. I decide to take one last trip around my home town, let the memories flood back into my brain.
We spent countless hours playing damsel in distress under the apple tree in Grandma’s backyard. The apple tree was her castle, Rufus the terrifying dragon, and me, her Prince Charming. The house now fronts a FOR SALE sign, but her castle still stands strong.
The duck pond we visited every summer, feeding the ducks and chasing away the geese that tried to steal the white bread. Once we caught a toad that she wanted to keep as a pet, but I told her that she would get warts. She squealed and tossed the toad back into the pond. Two days later a wart appeared on her index finger.
The trail we walked home from school everyday. The path overgrown with weeds and dandelions: her favorite flower. I always told her it was just a pretty weed, but she would still pick a few to place in her room.
She couldn’t stop crying when I broke my arm on the trampoline at the local gymnasium, showing off that I could do flips while she was still too small. “I’m scared, Archie,” she said to me with watery eyes. She held onto my face, making me look at her, as if I looking away would cause her to lose me.
Our favorite candy store on the corner. She had given the owner a nick name, Mr. Wonka, because she believed he had more candy than Mr. Willy Wonka himself and deserved to carry that name instead. He gave her a lollipop “on the house” every time she entered the store.
The block where I left her that one day to play basketball with my friends. “Go home!” I forcefully pointed my finger in that direction, looking down on her. I wanted to be cool. Cool didn’t include spending time with your baby sister.
I thought she was at home, my parents thought she was with me. We called Grandma, ran through the duck pond, and trudged into the candy store. Nothing.
A decade has passed. I’m eighteen, she would be fifteen. I blame myself; secretly I think my parents do too. We don’t allow ourselves to accept the inevitable; her small skeleton lying in the woods, buried after years of coming and going seasons, scattered by wild animals. We held a funeral for her, though, for the family to grieve together and give the relatives closure, but there was no body to bury.
I overlooked the basketball court during my tour around town. I already knew what I would see; a boy striving to be accepted, wanting his friends approval. I would see a young me with no cares in the world, naïve to the dangers at every turn. I would see the selfish boy who gave his sister away.
Only one more hour until I leave. I turned the corner onto my street. There sitting in my parent’s driveway was a black and white cop car and a silver car I did not recognize. I ran the rest of the way to my house and barged through the front door. Standing there were my two tearful parents, a cop, and a detective holding a picture of my five year old baby sister.