I should’ve known it was Daffy Duck all along; then again it’s hard to tell the difference between a fictional duck’s voice and the shrill of my sister’s. The piercing ear-grinding call that shouted “Melanie!” and whatever else followed from the adjacent room could easily be mistaken for a “Looney Tunes” character, one, or all combined.
I waited for a while until the creature knocked on my bedroom door five times and welcomed herself in, strode over towards me, blocked the television by standing opposite in a sort of gladiator pose and did what I had expected.
The usual acquaintance.
If this was a scripted dysfunctional family sitcom a cliché of endless moments would follow. Annoying sister enters, annoying sister accuses innocent sister of stealing an item of clothing she would never wear, annoying sister shouts, annoying sister leaves, leaving innocent sister confused and troubled.
It’s like that for most of the days I come home from school and try to have a moment to myself in my bedroom. Getting at least five minutes is impossible in my house and closing and locking my bedroom door doesn’t make it any better.
First, you walk through your front door and you’re greeted by your Grandmother who interests you with a basket full of baked cakes that taste of chalk and egg. You have your father who dashes past without realising, making a rapid excuse to attend an important meeting for work bearing in mind he’s currently unemployed. You have your mother who welcomes you as you reach for a snack in the fridge, by reciting a scene from Mastermind, with questions centring on the adventures of your school day. What I did at school? Why I look so pale? Why I put on weight? Why I smell so bad?
Then, finally to complete the dysfunctional family you have the bigger sister that accuses you of every little thing that disappears from her bedroom, including lip-gloss, mascara and even underwear.
My family portrays a cartoon sitcom sketch instead of a normal one. Everyday, something happens, no matter what the mood.
So when I sat opposite my television staring at the pose of my sister I sighed at what I had expected to come, and turned my head in the opposite direction concentrating on a stain I found on my wall.
“Where is it?” She said.
Another sign on a cartoon sketch, a sister who instantly assumes you are telepathic with a question that leaves you in a state of confusion.
“Where’s what?” I simply replied.
“My letter…c’mon give it to me,” she was gesturing towards me.
“Erm, I don’t know what your talking about,”
Then, without permission, the sister starts to search your room. She looks in obvious hiding places such as your bed, your chest of draws, behind cabinets etc, until she gives up and stands in silence, hoping you’ll come forward.
“What?” I said. She was staring at me, in an unnerving sort of way as if she was trying to do a magic trick.
This was strange. Usually she would pick up a random object and aim it towards me, mainly the facial area and run out of my room shouting my mum’s name but instead; she said something else, something that I couldn’t believe at first.
“Melanie…if you could just please give me this it would be great, I know you like my business but this...I really need, it’s really important,”
She said the word “Please”. That’s a first, something must be wrong. This isn’t my sister at all.
“Erm…I haven’t got what your looking for Amy,” I said, slightly taken back and with that my sister left my bedroom without saying anything and “quietly” closed the door.
I sat slightly dazed on my bed, thinking of my sister and possible drugs that cursed her this way. Not only was she being polite but she wasn’t screeching or shouting at me, I didn’t have to bring out my “Ear Blockers” from underneath my bed during the conversation or grimace at the thought of exploding eardrums.
From my bed, I ran towards the wall linked to my sister’s and placed my ear against it. I wanted to hear the mumbled cursing she’ll using address towards me, or the muffled crying in the bed pillow from a forever disappeared item. But, there was nothing. Not only was this strange, but slightly surreal. I thought I was in a different world for a moment, the scheduled sister arguments were no more. With nothing else to do, I sat at my desk and started working on a forgotten essay.
The next day, was worse.
Breakfast in my house is similar to a fast food restaurant, everyone rushing and dashing around, eating like Stone Age cavemen. My mum would waste her time making tea for my dad who would sip it and run out the door, claiming he is late for “work”. My Grandma would spend the duration of the morning applying her denches rather disgracefully at the kitchen table opposite me while I’d cringe at the squeaking of it and concentrate on how a black toast or rock formed sausages would be considered edible.
But my sister was someone who I was also concentrating on.
There were no arguments to who used the bathroom first this morning, my sister stood outside while I was in and smiled when I left. She waited for me. She “offered” me to be the first to use the bathroom as she “didn’t have a hectic day ahead of her”. And whilst the Stone Age cavemen ate at the dinning table she came in and smoothly got an orange squash from the fridge sat down next to me and said “Good Morning”.
I thought, for a moment, my sister had gone under some kind of discrete operation that removed the “hormonal” quirks from her system. But no, it must have been something much uncanny than that.
She turned towards me, while I had bitten in fear of a chipped tooth, into my sausage.
“How are you”? She said.
I didn’t answer nor did I react, I assumed she was talking to someone else or mistakenly phrased the question. But when the silence had stood and I turned to find her staring at me, smiling, I gave a quick abrupt answer, “Fine” and went back to my breakfast.
She nodded and drank her orange squash; I could tell from the reflection of the mirror kitchen cabinets my sister was thinking of something else to say. I wish this curse spelled over her would die. This attempt to interact with each other is terrible.
“Oh erm, don’t worry about that thing yesterday, I found it...” She said.
I nodded my head and she smiled at me again, this time slightly unnerving. I had thought of what to say next, if this was how it was going to be, if this was the future of our interactions with each other I needed to know what caused it.
I was tempted to ask what she wanted. This “important” thing she thought I had taken must have been something secretive. She didn’t mention whether it was a bra or a recently bought top. Just to drag the conversation along, I tried to ask her what it was but before I could even open my mouth she had given me a “hug” that’s right, a “hug” and said goodbye whilst leaving for college. She dashed out so fast a couple of objects dropped from her bag, but I ignored what seems like bits of paper.
I still had half an hour left, and as my Grandma gave up on applying her denches she left, and I was stuck in kitchen with my mum and a rock fried-up.
My mum was washing the dishes, playing the traditional house-wife role with her apron and gloves and need to dust of every surface each time someone moved. She had taken a slightly damp tea towel and cleaned the seat where Grandma had sat.
My mum had noticed I was quieter than usual, digging away at my sausage staring into space. It was my sister. Something was up.
“You okay darling? You seem quiet,” she said, rolling up her sleeves applying elbow-grease to grandma’s seat.
“Nothing,” I said, “Just Amy, just thinking about her," that sounded wrong. I was thinking about her not in the caring sense but more like the worrying sense.
“Ah…that’s sweet. Sisterly love, that’s how I was like with my sister when I was younger…you should treasure these moments my love, coz soon they’ll be gone because when you get older like me you…”
I had blanked out during the rest of my mum’s childhood recital when I caught sight of the space I was staring at. It was something from my sister’s bag; it was a piece of paper with a red mark on it. While my mum was talking away I had discreetly ducked underneath the table and grabbed this piece of paper. Although it was out of my nature, I had a peek, and then as the first line caught my attention, I read on.
Dear Amy Simpson,
Thank you for your submission to LSU, London Silvers University. We are happy to tell you that we have accepted your choice of accommodation at LSU campus.
Thank you for your deposit payment and we hope you will enjoy your stay for the duration of your course.
See you in September.
LSU Head Teacher
I sat paralyzed, my fingers clenching the sides of the letter.
My sister is leaving home.