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To Grace

By , Folsom, CA
We are young. I am 8 and you are only 2. Mom and Dad like to take us down to the beach. They set up a picnic and tell us to run off and play. The world is ours, as long as we are still in their sight. I will take your hand, and teach you to run in the sand. We will play the game were we can't let the waves reach our little toes. I will tell you about space, and how big it is. How we can go and live in the stars with Mommy and Daddy. There it is bright and happy and there is no trouble. We can have a big house, and as much money as we want. It is so nice up there, I say, and you listen with those huge gray eyes. And I will hold your hand and I will teach you to skip and ride a scooter. We are best friends.

We grow up a little. I am 12 and you are 6. Sometimes Mom and Dad let me take you to the park by our house. I hold your hand and you pretend I'm your baby. Pushing you on the swings, you cry to go higher and higher. I stop pushing just to make you mad. Because, you annoy me, and tricks are fun to play. When you start crying for honest, I run after you. We will still live in space. This time, we'll go to Neptune. It is my favorite planet, because I love the elegance of its name. All of us will have our own little houses, and we can play everyday. There will only be the rules we make up. It is so nice up there, I say, and you listen, with your long curly blonde hair. And I will be nice to you one second, and mean the next. We are growing apart.

We grow up a lot. I am 14, and you are 8. I never want anything to do with you. This hurts you, and I see it in your little heart-shaped face, but I don't care. Mommy tells you that I have depression now, and that is why I'm sad all the time. I cry and scream and act like you did when you were a baby. Sometimes, you come to me, and ask where in space we'll live. Then, I yell in your eager face, and tell you there is nowhere for us in space. We can't go to the stars, they'll burn us right up. We can't go to Neptune, it's not possible for anyone to live there, and, God, you are just so stupid. And you will cry and I will scream that the only reason space is good is because there's no oxygen, and so you die. We don't speak anymore.

We grow just a bit. I am 15, and you are 9. I hang out with bad people, and it makes Mommy cry a lot. I get caught stealing, and then Daddy screams. Frightened, you come to me. And I comfort you, and it is almost like old times. Then you snitch to Dad that my friends smoke and drink, and you are hated again. I become reclusive, and won't go to school. Mommy and Daddy are getting a divorce, and you are scared. We don't talk about space anymore. I hate space, and the void in myself that it represents. Sometimes, while you sleep, I sneak into your room. I whisper in your ear that I love you, and you smile in your sleep. Those long black eyelashes twitch, and I leave. We are lost.

We grow up a lot in a very short time. I am 16, and you are 10. Now I draw, and take pictures, and write stories. I take pills that are good for me, and I talk to someone about my problems. Mommy and Daddy go to therapy, and they probably will stay together after all. I start taking classes at college. Astronomy, physics, philosophy. Space is real, and I can go, I tell you. And you listen, with those crooked teeth and huge gapped smile. And we will have spa nights and sleepovers, and I will teach you to play the recorder and read music. We are mending each other.

Because, my darling love, you are my sister. You are also a huge thorn in my side. But it's alright, because your love for me and my love for you is bigger than that thorn. I will teach you so many things. That it is okay to fall in love with someone who doesn't love you back. That it is perfectly fine to not like to dress like everyone else. That you are unique and special, and I will forever protect you from the mistakes that I've made. We will go shopping, and take pictures of each other, and play computer games together. I tell you not to worry, that I would dodge a bullet, a train, a car, for you. And you listen with that perky little ski-jump nose. And I will hug you and hold your hand and curl your hair. We are best friends, and oh, how I missed you.





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