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I Got You, Sissy MAG
I was walking in the mall when I saw them. The older, cooler kids I had done the school play with were headed straight toward me, laughing and smiling in each other's casual company. My heart leapt, and a voice rang out: Play it cool, Sasha. Don't be a dork.
At sixteen with sideburns, there wasn't much I could do to play it cool, but I was keen to try because I looked up to these kids. The one who I regarded as the leader saw me first and smiled in surprise, pointing me out to the others. They waved as my smile broke out and I looked at every friendly face. As they approached, I noticed a change in the leader's humor. I frowned at his expression. I don't desire pity, nor do I appreciate it.
On the way to the car, I thought about why he had looked at me that way. “Sissy, Sissy! I got you, Sissy,” a little voice chirped from the back seat. He had seen Sarah and made the connection. I had never told them she was my sister.
Every morning she pokes her head into my room when she's sure I'm awake. “Good morning, Sissy” is
her daily greeting, except for some mornings, when she wakes up spewing fire. By midday, she's poked her head in a bunch of times. “Got you, Sissy. I got you” is the common motto. Most of the time, I repeat the little saying, but sometimes I ignore her. Everyone does at some point, and though that sounds mean, it's the truth. People grow tired of anything, even sweet little things and kind words, in such large supply.
Sarah never grows tired of it. To her, the most common logic is love, and love is simple. There is the love you feel for your family, and the love you feel for a welcomed stranger. The best way to express love is to say it often so they know for sure you mean it, for no three words better cover the feeling so close to magic on earth. I've never ignored her when she's told me she loves me. I couldn't ever, because I fear it's a sin – at least it feels like it should be one.
I forget where “Sissy” came from – maybe a Harry Potter movie – but the pet name stuck. Sissy for sisters and the best of friends. I'm her only friend. No one else seems to have time for my petite Sissy, and the ones who say they want to be her friend only do so for an hour and then expect community service credit. I try to protect her from the phonies who play compassionate when the teacher is around but would just as soon scorn her when the person writing the college referral has his or her back turned.
Sometimes people do scorn her. Most just stare, which brings out my irascible nature. Sarah sometimes notices when people gawk. It makes her feel insecure, and it makes me livid. Little kids don't understand what they see when they see my sister. It's the adults and teenagers who irritate me. They should know better. Once, a pierced teenager at an amusement park snickered at her, saying to his cronies, “Look at her little head.” My words were on fire, and I roasted that kid into timidity, until he was red in the face and apologies rained from his lips.
Sarah works with her class at a coffee booth at school called Cool Beans. Everyone stops there for coffee, except the rich snobs who think that the kids could somehow contaminate their “Frenchie bean” in a cup. A lot of the teachers think it's a great idea and don't reprimand students who come to class a little late with a Cool Beans cup. I stop there often to look for Sarah. There, and the Special Ed classroom across from the cafeteria. In that class, they do things for Sarah – things I know I can't. She's reading because of them, learning to spell words like mom and tree. She's 18 years old, and she's doing really well.
Sometimes, I wonder what she would have been like if she were normal. I look at her: small, just above four feet. Would she have been tall? What would her face look like if her head had been normal size? Would she have been popular? Smart? Would she have had a Facebook page? Would she and I have fought all the time? Would she love me as much? I don't know.
She comes into the room and I stop typing and look up and smile. She says, “I got you, Sissy. I got you.” Her warm brown eyes twinkle in the soft light and her small nose wrinkles in laughter. Her eyes are alight and her heart is full. I take my finger and trace the smooth, light brown skin of her face as she leans into my side. Her arms reach out and enfold me. Mine find their way around her too.
“I got you too, Sissy, and I'm going to take care of you,” I reply.