I hated my sister. An easy thing for me to say, despite (according to my parents) hate being such a “strong word.” But it was true; I detested my sister. Loathed her. I didn’t always hate her; in fact, I felt nothing the day she was handed to me.
It was clear she was an impulse decision, an accident. I never mentioned wanting a sibling, and my parents were not good planners. Ironically, I had been drawing my family portrait when they brought her home. Carrying her in like a lethal virus. My babysitter, my cousin, was the first of us to greet my new sister. She would later die in college in an unsolved home invasion.
“Aw,” my cousin said a little too eagerly, as she wiggled her finger at the baby. “She’s so precious. What’s her name?”
I knew it was all just a ruse to try to get me excited. There was a continual worry about my limited range of emotions. I took a black crayon and scribbled a rough blob next to me in the portrait.
“She doesn’t have a name yet.” My mother walked over to where I was sitting and nudged me to look up. “Lacey, this is your new little sister. Since you two are going to be spending a lot of time together, we decided you could name her.”
“Sweetie,” my mother continued, “Why don’t you take her up to your room?”
She handed me the baby, and I was forced to face my new sister’s existence. I grabbed her and made my way upstairs. She was lighter than I imagined she would be; and I was pretty sure most of the weight I felt was from the puke pink fleece blanket that was wrapped around her. It reeked of strawberries.
It would have been easy to toss her down the stairs. To watch her bounce as she hit each step. Hear her little squeaks from every dent and bruise. Her small face seemed to tempt me to do it. Her small lips pursed in a smug pout. Unnecessarily cute button nose and freckled cheeks. They all wanted to be ruined. But it was her eyes, her sky blue eyes, which had the most darkness behind them.
“Do it,” a gentle voice whispered. “Throw me. I dare you.”
I pulled the stretchy pink bow that was wrapped around her bald head over her eyes. Pivoting to face the stairs, I loosened my grip around her. It would take nothing to let her roll out of my arms. It would be an accident. No force needed. Not like the effort needed to push an adult body down the stairs.
“Sweetie.” My mother appeared and snapped me out of my trance. “Would you like a snack?”
I nodded and ran into my room.
“I knew you couldn’t do it.” Her voice was raspier now that it was louder. “Remove this blanket. It’s too constricting.”
I unwrapped my sister and placed her on the floor. She stretched out her tiny, chubby limbs and just laid there. Her white pajamas were covered in a red ladybug pattern. I wondered what it would be like to poke each one of them. To stab them with a pen. Or squish them. Stomp on them until they were flat.
“You won’t do it.” Her lips never seemed to move when she spoke. “Now sit me up on the bed, so I can see everything.”
Thus began our codependent relationship. Her infestation of my life. I was left to care for my sister. Feed her. Change her. Obey her. She was my responsibility. My burden.
My parents barely had time to take care of me. They were both always working hard at their respective careers: my father the accountant and my mother the realtor. The truth was they were spending their time having affairs. My father was sleeping with a barista from his favorite coffee shop. She was a college dropout who would eventually die from a severe allergic reaction. On the other hand, my mother was seeing the husband of a couple she sold a house to; he died randomly after falling down the staircase of his beautiful two-story foyer.
It was always just my sister and me. At night, when my parents fought, she would stare at me and share her desires. Draw on the walls. Knock over the vase. Burn the roses. Bleach the baby rabbits. She would dare me to do each one. And even though I would, she was never satisfied. All through the night, she would plot and scheme and ramble on about more things I needed to do because she was too young to do them herself.
This carried on for years. While she never grew, her ideas did. Grander and more daring than the last. Then came the her most ambitious demand. Even though I had been doing what she asked, I couldn’t fulfill her final request. It was true my parents were not the greatest, but they stayed together despite the affairs and fights. I couldn’t kill them and get away with it. And if I didn’t kill them, I knew my sister would keep persisting. I came up from the basement, crept past my parents’ bedroom to the bathroom, and drew a bath.
“Did you do it yet?” My sister asked as I dragged her along. “Did you? Did you do it?”
I threw her into the tub and held her under the water. Her pouty lips pursed tighter as little bubbles floated to the surface. The intoxicating scent of rotting strawberries floated through the air. The ladybugs on her pajamas scampered in pain before curling in on themselves. Her blue eyes melted away, allowing the darkness to slither out. It zigzagged through the freckles on her cheeks and snaked up my arms. It clawed into my eyes, preventing any tears from flowing. Preventing anything. I knew I hated her, but I still couldn’t show it.
When the last bubble popped, I heard her scratchy voice. “You did it.”
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