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

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     Can you do me a big favor and pour me another bowl?” Frankie asks, batting his puppy-dog eyes and holding out a box of Cocoa Puffs. Grudgingly, I snatch the box and walk toward the kitchen. “Have I told you you’re the best sister ever?” he says in that tone that always makes me laugh. Frankie hurries through his homework, anxious to see his girlfriend. I like this one, Danielle. I don’t like many of his girlfriends because they usually don’t treat him right. She, however, doesn’t cause him to come home angry and upset, like the last few did. They’d argue on the phone for hours, making him tired and grouchy. Danielle doesn’t do this, so I approve, so far. Though, maybe in my mind, I am the only girl who can ever appreciate him as he should be (aside from our mother).

I can’t help but find it funny when kids talk about their “annoying” siblings and the fights they have. Just the other day my friend Nicole was venting about her sister always stealing her things. I can’t relate because Frankie and I can’t even remember the last argument we had; it must have been around fifth grade when we fought over who got to use the computer.

Frankie quickly finishes his cereal, packs up his books, waves bye, and speeds off in his little black sports car.

“I was just like, ‘Dude, that’s my sister,”’ I remember him saying last year, when my soon-to-be boyfriend asked Frankie how he’d feel if one of his best friends dated his little sister. Neither of us knew his real feelings, but he grinned and bore it the few months we were together. Perhaps it made us even closer.

“So, what’d you do last night?” my friend once asked.

“Oh, nothing really, just hung out with my brother and our friends,” I replied nonchalantly.

“Our friends?” she asked, a hint of disbelief in her voice. “You guys, like, hang out together?”

It’s true, for years now the majority of my friends have also been part of the group my brother hangs out with. Maybe I’m mature for my age, or maybe he and his friends aren’t, but despite the three years between us, we tend to get along with the same people and he has never complained about my tagging along.

As soon as he shuts that door, it hits me. In just a matter of months, I won’t hear him ask for “big favors” or call me the “best sister ever.” I won’t be asking about his cute friends; my friends won’t be asking about my cute brother, and I won’t be making plans with him on the weekends. In just a matter of months, he will close that door for good. Well, for a good six months, at least. For the first time in 15 years, Frankie and I won’t be living under the same roof. We have never been as close as we are now, and in the fall, he’ll be off to college.

A few weeks ago when I was over at a friend’s house I asked if she needed help with the zipper on the back of her shirt. “I got it,” she said. “I’m an only child. We can do these things ourselves.” She smiled and zipped up with only a small struggle.

“Come hang out with me!” Frankie yells across the hall when he gets home from Danielle’s. Night after night, he has some funny story to tell me, or wants to hear about my day. I finish up my homework and sit on his bed. He tells me about the Build-A-Bear he’s getting Danielle for her birthday and how he plans to bring her to my game next Friday, but I’m not really listening. Even though it’s months away, I can’t stop thinking about how much my life is going to change in August.

“’Night, buddy,” he says as I walk out the door. Before I close it, I turn around and mumble, “Love you.”

He stares for a second, then smiles. That’s enough. His face says, “I love you too,” even if he’s too cool to say it out loud. I walk into my own room, and as I lay down to sleep, I think about how, come fall, I’ll be zipping up my own zippers. Maybe with a little struggle, but sooner or later, I’ll be able to do it myself, without the help of my big brother.

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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