Tough Act

It’s hard to say good-bye, but it’s even harder to tell your sister how you really feel.

I found myself sitting in the backseat of our car, the one we call the Green Machine, wondering how I got myself into this mess. We were helping my older sister move away from home for the first time, and I didn’t want to be there. I dreaded saying good-bye. I didn’t know what to say or do.

Why had I come, I asked myself. Because you’re a fool, I answered. A fool who thought your sister would want someone there besides Mom and Dad. She probably couldn’t care less, or so it seemed to me by the smiles and chatter that came nonstop from the front seat.

I shifted restlessly, hoping we were almost there, and thinking back to the argument we’d had just a couple of weeks ago.

“Will you hurry up with the hair dryer!”

“I’m drying my hair as fast as I can!”

“Well, could you let me use it for a minute? I have to leave.”

“So do I, but I can’t curl my hair unless it’s dry. Besides, I thought I’d have enough time because you said you were going to take a shower.”

“I was, but you used all the hot water.”

Bicker, bicker. Finally, we both got so fed up that we stopped talking to each other. We always seemed to fight like that. Funny though, a couple of hours later we’d be joking, laughing, and borrowing each other’s clothes as though nothing had happened. We were never angry with each other for long.

My thoughts were interrupted as we pulled up to a small, brick house, stepped out of the car, and went inside.

I lugged one of my sister’s suitcases around, while following my parents and dreading the moment when we would say good-bye. I’d have to hug her and then say something like, “I’m going to miss you” or “Have fun in California,” and then she’d hug me back and say, “I will.” Blech!

I walked outside and paced up and down the cracked sidewalk, awaiting the inevitable, as my dilapidated tennis shoes crumbled the dry leaves that had fallen from the tree in the yard.

Footsteps sounded behind me and I turned to see my sister coming toward me, a big smile on her face. I stood where I was, my hands in my pockets, as she set the box she was holding on the ground and came towards me.

We hugged each other, and I said, “I’m going to miss you. Have fun in California.” I let go, and she grinned and said, “I will.”

I turned away and crossed the street to the curb, unwilling to let her see my watery eyes. As I leaned against the car and lifted my tear-stained face to the wind, I softly whispered, “I love you.”

[illustrations] Illustrated by Steve Kropp