For My Sister This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

March 26, 2013
My little sister is not dead.
My mother is not dead,
and even though they were both there and got out alive, it does not mean that it's okay.
It isn't.
Don't tell me that I should be okay and my ­family should be okay
and that we should all stop imagining what life would be like if our baby did not come home, and that we should stop acting as if she is gone, but in many ways she is.
She hasn't been herself.
Her laugh is lost and her dimpled smile has
deserted her face, left inside the ruins of the
closest place to hell on earth
and still, we send her off to a place my mother calls a concentration camp.

Everywhere I go, people tell me we
are lucky,
lucky that my sister is young enough to
“not understand what happened,”
and be “a normal person” as if nothing has set a trapdoor on her life.
But she knows. She's smart.
And telling me I'm lucky and it's okay is not
going to fix anything when she's crying
in terror over school.

She does not want to learn
and doesn't care about seeing friends there.
The same girl who once bawled on snow days
and begged my mother to drive her to school
on weekends hates going.
So, don't tell me that it's going to be okay,
don't tell her that it's going to be okay
when “Adam Lanza is a hero” groups pop up
on Facebook
and we are all expected to be able to function
the next day –
as if having a uniformed man, just as mortal as
the rest of us,
stand in the middle of a hallway is going to
fix anything.

I knew it wasn't okay when my sister told me about how she searches
for hiding places in every building she walks into
and I must admit, I do the same thing.
This school is only safe if it turns into a prison
and locks our freedom away.
Here, I can try and protect myself,
but she's only a sweet soul barred inside a tiny
five-year-old body who was in the next
classroom in line to be attacked.
She came so close.

Still now, we ship her off each morning to
a new school with new police.
But what if the police die too?
What if somebody takes a bomb to the building?
I mean, it's not impossible.
Amongst all of the stuffed animals that line the new library shelves
there is still evil lurking in the pockets of every
unknown man's face I walk by.

It is hard to know if my little angel will come
home alive,
and from 8:30 to 12:30 in the morning I can't breathe.
When she speaks I can't breathe
When she plays I can't breathe
And when she sleeps I stand guard at her door and stare,
watching her little chest rise and fall,
praying her dreams are not full of the things she tells my mother about right before drifting off.

She asks: So that's what I heard? My friends dying all around me?
She says: Mommy, I know I should never say this but I hate hate hate hate the man who hurt those people, and I'm glad he's dead and I hope he goes to hell!

It's not okay. It's wrong.
The same girl who runs around the house
telling us she's a real fairy princess and who
paints herself in rainbow glitter
should not say those kinds of things.
Our conversations over the tea parties we
have every afternoon
should not revolve around how she was supposed to spend this quality time with Gracie,
and because her friend died
she wants to die too.

She wants to die.
Although the security is not enough to
guarantee life, it doesn't matter to her.
She wants to die
and at times that makes me want to die too.

She's only five.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the April 2013 Teen Ink Nonfiction Contest.

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This article has 7 comments. Post your own now!

Romana This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 25, 2013 at 3:03 pm
Dear RebeccaMichele, I was in the audience at Confluence/Confluencia/Confluenza this past spring in Danbury and I heard you recite this poem. I just wanted to let you know that in my opinion, your poem was the best delivered and most powerful of all the amateur poems read that night, and I would go so far as to say that it was more powerful than some of the proffesional poets' poems as well. Thank you so much for being brave enough to share your words.
laila_265 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 20, 2013 at 1:01 pm
Wow...this is too amazing for words. I don't know what to say, except that you touched me deeply. though none of us can truly understand what you and your sister are going through, you managed to give us all a glimpse. thanks for sparking a little emphathy in a tragedy that was so lacking of it. 
readlovewrite said...
Apr. 8, 2013 at 10:17 pm
This is great! I'm really sorry, and I suppose I wish I could do something, but I guess I just hope your sister can understand (???) That's really bad wording, but you expressed well what you were saying and I shudder to imagine if my little sister were in Sandy Hook or the Aurora theater or Columbine High School.
Laugh-it-Out This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 7, 2013 at 4:01 pm
Wow, just wow. I think that this is the best peice I have read all year. You have a gift Rebecca. Please never stop writing. As for your sister. I am sorry, and I am not going to say that what happened is okay and that she is lucky she survived because it sounds like you all died a little that day. My school had fundraisers and stuff so we could support all the familes out there. I am so sorry that this happened to you and your family. I was almost crying at the end of the peice. I congratulate ... (more »)
RebeccaMichele replied...
Apr. 7, 2013 at 9:16 pm
thank you so much for your kind words. what you said really means a lot to me. thank you endlessly.
Laugh-it-Out This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 8, 2013 at 6:28 pm
your welcome! all day afterwards i was thinking about it because it was soo amazing. so i wrote a peice on school shootings that pending approval. i hope when it is published you could take a l0ook at it and offfer feedback! Amzing job once again!
shannonspies said...
Mar. 26, 2013 at 10:35 pm
This deserves #1 You're amazing
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