Oldest Sister

by Bella Rum

I wrote this last night, but I pooped out before I finished and had to go to bed. Maybe springing forward had an impact.


I’m sitting in the office. Didn’t they call them studies back in the day? To me, it’s the most comfortable room in the world, or maybe I should say the room where I feel most comfortable. It would probably seem like an ordinary room to anyone else – comfortable but nothing extraordinary.

Black and white photos of the pier at the boat harbor where I grew up, and photos of my grandchildren, son and daughter-in-law cover the walls. A photo of Dad and all my siblings sits on a credenza to my left. An old oar found on Newfound Lake hangs on one wall. A basketful of bills and a very old fan that used to sit on top of H’s mother’s refrigerator sit behind me. With no air conditioning, her little house depended on that fan to stir the air during the suffocating months of July and August.

H opened the window and a breeze is ruffling the pages of his magazine. The air is literally saturated with springtime. The window overlooks my neighbors backyard, and I can see the plum-colored buds covering the branches of my red bud tree.  I won’t see much of their backyard once its large heart-shaped leaves appear. The boy next door is hitting a field hockey ball into a net, and I can hear the thwack, thwack, thwack each time it hits its target. H will have to cut the grass soon. The mulch will go down, and azaleas will start blooming.

Even with all this tranquility, my mind is restless tonight. My sister called today. It was good to hear from her. We don’t talk often, and we seldom call one another. It’s difficult to define our relationship, but I suppose distant would come closest to capturing the opaque nature of our bond, but there is a bond. We have our moments. We put forth some effort to sustain the ties, but it’s minimal on both ends. I do always call her when something very bad happens or when a family gathering is approaching. Who can say what defines family for someone else? She is my family. There’s no doubt about that, and there will always be those singular memories that are shared with non other than a sibling.

There’s never been an argument between us. I feel no animosity toward her, and I don’t believe she feels any toward me. To be sure, there are the usual sibling issues, and we’re very different. I don’t usually give all this a lot of thought, but tonight it’s niggling away – not bad feelings… just niggling, and I’m wondering at how relationships sometimes find their water line. Instead of growing deeper or drifting away, they stay mostly in one place, gently lapping the sides of the ship, never increasing or decreasing greatly. Not the slightest ebb or flow is discernible to the outsider.