“Boy, I’ll bet you’re glad that your sister’s getting married tomorrow!” With all the fussing over Christine’s temple wedding and reception, and finding himself in everyone’s way most of the time, Jason had to agree with his friend Randy. He was glad that the wedding was tomorrow! As he tossed the baseball idly back to Randy, he said, “Well, at least I won’t have to stand in line anymore to use the bathroom. She’s always in there taking a bath or doing something to her face.”
“Yeah, sisters can make life miserable,” Randy agreed. “Even mine, and she’s only two years old!”
The boys called it quits on the game of catch and found a seat on the back porch steps.
“Remember that game we played in the mud last summer?” Jason asked. “Lucky for me, I got home before my folks saw me. But who do you think I found in the bathroom? Christine! It smelled like a perfume factory in there! Phew!”
Randy frowned. “I bet she told on you, too, didn’t she?”
“Well, … no.”
“I guess she didn’t,” Jason said with a shrug. “At least Mom and Dad never said a word when—”
Before Jason could finish, two of Christine’s girlfriends, her bridesmaids for the reception, came out the back door, down the steps, and drove away in their car.
“Don’t girls ever stop giggling?” Randy complained. “I guess you’ve heard a lot of that in your house.”
“Yeah.” Jason sighed. “Sometimes when Christine had friends over, I’d go to my room just to get some peace and quiet. All they ever did was eat pizza and talk about boys! Yuck!” Jason kicked a stone off the step below, then added thoughtfully,
“But she always saved me some pizza.”
The two friends silently watched a robin working on a worm in the grass.
“Hey! Just think!” Randy shouted. “Now you’ll have a new sitter when your folks go out.”
“Well, didn’t you always tell me that your sister gave you a hard time when she stayed with you, making you go to bed at the same time, even when it wasn’t a school night?”
Jason remembered the many times that Christine had watched him. “Yeah. Nine o’clock, even on weekends!” Then he remembered something else. “Nine o’clock without fail except for that night last year when we had the bad storm and the lights went out.”
Randy elbowed his friend. “She made you go to bed earlier, right?”
“Well, … no,” Jason admitted. He smiled a little. “Christine got out our sleeping bags and flashlights, made some sandwiches, and turned on her portable radio. We camped out in the living room.”
“Yeah! It was neat!”
“Neat, huh?” Randy teased. “OK. I guess you forgot the Halloween when she made the costume that made you a laughingstock!”
Jason stopped smiling. That was a Halloween that he’d never forget! Christine had volunteered to make him a costume in her home economics class at school. Jason was supposed to be a plain old pirate. But Christine outdid herself and added so much ribbon and lace and so many sequins that Jason ended up looking more like a gypsy than a pirate.
“Ha! You really looked funny!” Randy laughed, wagging a finger at Jason.
“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Jason admitted, his face getting hot and red. He didn’t like remembering that terrible night! “If it hadn’t been for that lousy costume, those big guys from Willow Street would have left me alone and not taken my whole bag of candy.”
But Jason also remembered how Christine had gotten angry—not at him, but at the bullies who’d stolen his candy. “Let’s go!” she had ordered, grabbing Jason by the arm, then spending two more hours in their rainy neighborhood with him, watching and waiting as Jason refilled his treat bag.
“Boy, she’s some sister,” Randy said in a tone of disgust.
“Yeah, she sure is,” Jason agreed quietly. He got up, adding, “And tomorrow’s the wedding. This is my last chance to really tell her what I think of her.”
Jason marched straight to Christine’s bedroom, took a deep breath, and knocked.
“Come on in,” Christine called. She was setting her hair, stretching and pulling strands of it over prickly tubes. “Hi, Jase!” she said cheerfully. “What’s up?”
The room was filled with clouds of Christine’s perfume. Jason almost forgot what he wanted to say as he stared at the billowing, white gown that hung on her closet door.
Christine looked at him in the mirror. “Is something wrong?” she asked, putting down her brush and turning to her little brother.
“I—I—” he stammered, blushing. “I just wanted to tell you something,” Jason managed to say very quickly. Standing as tall as possible, he took a deep breath and let it out: “Christine, I love you, and I’m gonna miss you!”