Wake Up Little Sister

September 30, 2009
The little icebergs in my water clinked against the glass, sounding strangely like a wind chime. Wind chimes always had a very eery sound to me, like the background music to life's natural disasters.

I sat on the end of my bed, nested in a combination of blankets and pillows. My bed was always a battlefield of pillows, Pillowland, Dad called it. Now that I think of it, I believe I surrounded myself with so many pillows to feel safe, to feel less alone in the night.

I was reading a book, that was not so lucky to make it to my list. The list was a number of books that had changed my life, this book did not make the cut. I recall quite vividly how unimpressed I was with the author. Sipping my water through a long straw, I drank everything with a straw, I swore that it made the drink fresher. Condensation dripped onto a page of the disappointing book, dropping like a tear on the word Yesterday. The page would eventually crinkle and whoever I passed the book onto next would think I had been crying at this scene.

The melody of the phone rose me from my nest on my bed, I had programed the phone to sing instead of ring, to the annoyance of the rest of the family members.

“Come to the door and let me in.” My sister's hurried voice hissed.

“Why are you here so late?” I asked, trudging down the stairs, now empty water glass in hand, “Don't you have a husband to be attending to?”

“Come open the door, Erin!” Melissa growled, “And don't wake Mom or Dad.”

My stepsister had moved out a year before, married her perfect man who came with two cute blond children. Our heart to heart late night chats had ended when she went to college and a visit from her at one in the morning was not a normal occurrence.

Melissa's golden face usually glowed like a Chinese lantern, but when I opened the door, my first thought was how hollow her face looked, like she had aged into an old woman.

“Michael and I had a fight.” She answered my unspoken question as she pushed passed me into the house. She started pacing in a bit of a circle, touching things on the counter as she passed, as if to steady herself. “He wants me to quit my job and be with Haley and Ryan all day. And he's been so jealous of the men I work with, he told me he doesn't want me even wearing skirts to work. He went through my closet and threw out what he didn't like!”

I refilled the empty water glass and handed it to her without saying anything. Her body was shaking like she had just been in a car accident.

“He wouldn't stop yelling,” She sighed, touching her forehead as she finally sat down, “I told him I would leave and he pushed down and put his hands on my throat..he squeezed so hard, hissing that I could never leave him. Erin, I thought I was going to die there on the kitchen floor.”

Her eyes were so full of pain, anguish was written on her face. Melissa was so trusting and at this moment, a total stranger would have seen how betrayed she felt.

“I got him away from me, he was crying, saying how sorry he was.” She whispered, staring at the floor, “..And then, he grabbed a knife..Oh God Erin, I was..” A sob escaped her mouth before she covered her face with one shaking hand.
“Drink the water.” I instructed.

Melissa looked down at the cup in her hand like she hadn't even realized she had been holding it. She sipped some of the cold liquid before she continued, “He held it to his chest and screamed he'd kill himself if I left. And said it would be my fault, and I'd have to explain it to his kids.” Tears were pooling in her hazel eyes as she relived the story for me, “And..I was so scared. I-I..was just so, I felt so helpless.”

My big sister had always seemed so strong, so beautiful and full of life. Right then, all I saw was how this man had come into my sister's life and hurt her and taken away her golden lantern glow. I touched her hand, brushed her dark curls away from her face, I've never felt more maternal than I did in that moment.

“I'm here.” I said softly, holding her cold hand in mine. Comforting her the way we use to when we were little and we were frightened by an awful nightmare.

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