or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Sister
The essence of life is to be found in the frustrations of established order.
“God, Kris, you are so fucking disgusting!” I made a noise like a rhino in heat as I opened my mouth to reveal the large piece of orange gum that hung precariously from my tongue.
“Thanks a lot, E. You’re the one that called it an orange slug.” We both let out an uproarious laugh and quickly quieted ourselves. The geriatrics nearby were looking at us again. Our stifled laughter was still loud enough to make passersby wonder about our sanity, and that was just the way we liked it.
“Wait, wait! Do it again, but open your eyes wide; like you did the first time.” I concentrated hard for a second, then with my eyes as wide as I could make them, I dropped my jaw and flicked my tongue wildly in her direction. I then snapped my mouth shut and blinked heartily. I licked my lips and tasted the sweet, artificial-peach flavor. The “slug” rolled around gleefully in my mouth as Erika and I chuckled at the various mallrats screaming and laughing in the opposite corners of the food court.
“What a bunch of fucking losers!” Erika said as she flopped the middle part of her “tri-hawk” to the right side of her head and looped the barbell in her tongue through the two lip rings that protruded awkwardly from her mouth.
A putrid scent was carried our way by crowds of people that were walking by us. I could taste the stench in the air.
“Let’s get up and walk around. The Cookie Guy said it would take thirty minutes or so.” We’d ordered a cookie for my mom who had just had knee surgery. The “Cookie Guy” in question was a good-looking, nice guy who had helped us. It was more than a little strange to tell him that I wanted a giant cookie that said, “We love you, Mommy!” I thought about telling him to write something like, “Welcome back from the state pen. Thirty-five years is a long time, Daddy” or “We love you, Elvis,” but in the end, I decided against it.
We followed my suggestion and walked up the mall to the Deb Shop. Even from thirty feet away it reeked of perfume and cheap polyester fabric. As we closed the distance between ourselves and the store, the sheen of the predominantly sparkly clothing temporarily blinded us with a bright reflection of the healthy orange glow emitted by the fluorescent lights perched high above. I shielded my eyes and sidestepped my way into the store.
“Keribou!” a nickname for me. Which only Erika used. “Check this out!” With anticipation tugging at the corners of her mouth, she lifted up a very large dress, which had butterflies printed on it.
“Whoever made this dress should go to Hell forever. Oh look, Krisi, it’s a fatty dress!” Her sarcastic comment reached every corner of the store and the customers looked at her with bewildered and sometimes disgusted faces. I knelt down, embarrassed by her comment, and laughed into my knees.
“God, Erika, you are so mean!”
“You know the fashion industry has really lost its touch when butterflies and flowers are the ‘in thing,’” she stated sarcastically.
I walked away, but she continued to talk, “What a stupid combination anyway. How do you decide to make a mumu with little butterflies and shit all over it? When did… stupid… get…”
My bare skin mingled with soft velour shirts and sordid little sweaters that looked like lint balls glued together.
“Delicious,” I said to myself sarcastically as I reflected on some of the uglier outfits of the day.
Unbeknownst to me, my journey was leading me toward the shoe section, which consisted primarily of fuzzy black things and animal print shoes. By the time I reached the shoes, Erika had already picked out several pairs of them. Her favorite pair were chunky-heeled, red leopard-print shoes.
“I want,” she said as she shuddered with excitement.
“Erika, it looks like someone killed a New York hooker for her pelt. Those are gaudy as hell.”
I quickly realized my mistake as I took a step back and looked at my sister.
The short skirt she was wearing had punk-rock overtones, and many patches that were complimented by her fishnet pantyhose and a pair of clunky black shoes. The little bit of red in her outfit was pleasantly accented by her hair, which was indeed a nice shade of pink. Her black eye shadow, which made the whites of her eyes stand out, contrasted her pale face perfectly. She was a walking work of art. I suppose she resembled a Picasso in a strange, unfamiliar way; beautiful, ugly, and somewhat confusing all in the same note.
“Oh shit, it’s cookie time,” Erika said as she led the way back to the food court. I sang to myself as we ambled down the cheap tile toward the shops with fake Oakleys.
You don’t bring me anything but down
Everything just crashes to the ground
no more playing seek and hide
no more long and wasted nights
can’t you make it easy on yourself
I know you wish you were strong
you wish you were never wrong
well I’ve got some wishes of my own…
I walked behind her and watched her strut. She walked confidently, even as strangers stared at her. It was incredible.
As we reached “The Great American Cookie Company,” I started thinking about my relationship with Erika. I could remember only the terrible and heart breaking episodes of my life with her.
Her drug addictions had controlled her life for a long time, as had her alcohol abuse, lying, cheating and stealing. She alienated my family by constantly defying our moral beliefs. When she went to boarding school after she was arrested, her antics led to a speedy expulsion and the loss of a great deal of money. My family had been devastated physically, financially, and most definitely emotionally for years.
But on that day, she had forced me to laugh. Smiling at her jokes stung my cheeks, and I found myself rapt in thoughts of the past. As I paid the cookie guy, song lyrics rattled through my mind.
“You don’t bring me anything but down…”
For the first time in more years than I care to remember, I realized that I could love Erika again.
What a long road it had been. I missed the times we had spent together on our farm rolling through thick blades of grass. We had touched every inch of the property that we had grown up on. We’d climbed every tree, smelled every flower, and tasted the sweet juice of every honeysuckle. I had been near her since conception and I was forced away by her actions.
It was the most difficult time of my life when I could not love her. She had beaten the sensitivity out of my bones and had forced me into a corner. She made the choice for me, and I did not fight her.
Now it was my turn to make a choice. And I did. I made the most difficult choice I could have. I let the thing that had hurt me more than anything in the world back into my life, my twin sister. I had fortified my defenses for years, and I simply decided to submit to my need for her love. But that was just the way I liked it.