Saturday, October 15, 2011

Oktober The Fourteenth: How to Drive Your Sister Crazy

I grew up with three sisters, a mom and a grandmother in the house, not to mention myself, all our ever-present friends, my two brothers and two cousins. Plus, lots-o-cats. This week my younger and older sister both had to go to emergency care for various problems (that are totally unrelated to the story, BTW). Having people you care about can drive you crazy.

 Peace, Mari


How to Drive Your Sister Crazy

By Mari Kozlowski

“Caroline, you did so take my pink scarf yesterday. Right before Taz came over. What happened to it?”

 She turns her head like she’s not listening, but I know she hears me. She pretends to straighten up her dresser top, moving stuff around. Hanging jewelry on her little rack— a pair of Fran’s earrings and one of Evy’s necklaces. And Mom’s pearl drop earrings, too!

“Sorry, Bell, it wasn’t me. I wore all black last night.”

 And she flounces out of her bedroom. She has the whole room to herself. Me, Evy and Fran have shared a room since we were little. I’m seventeen, and I sleep in a bunk bed with my younger sister below me. You know how much that sucks for making out?

“Get your ass out of my room.” Caroline calls back.

 I know she took my scarf. My favorite one, from our trip to Florida. Maybe Mom can get her to give it up. I head to her office in the back room. She’s installing something on her computer, new software. There’s manuals and warranty junk all over the desk.

“Mom, Caroline keeps taking my good clothes. Without asking. I think you should stop her allowance till she stops stealing.”

“Bella, your sister isn’t stealing from you. Don’t be so dramatic.”


“I’m NOT being dramatic, Ma— you should see how much of our stuff she ‘borrows.’ She’s got a pair of your earrings, too, you know.”

 Mom sighs and stops fiddling with her keyboard.

“I gave her those last week, Bella; not that it’s any of your business. Will you please go set the table for dinner instead of tattling on your sisters? I’ve got to get this set up for tomorrow.”

 Unbelievable! I’m the one who’s the problem? I do the table like I’m supposed to and head to my room to listen to some Scopeful. Thank God I bought my own headphones last year— Caroline doesn’t know because I hide them when she’s around. Otherwise she’d probably steal them too, and listen to Green Day or something sick. 

 Maybe I should mess with her best clothes, so she knows what it’s like. Evy and Fran borrow whole outfits from me and each other; they always give them back. Okay, sometimes Evy rips things by accident, but at least she says she’s sorry and tries to be nice to you afterwards. And Fran is perfect about it.

 Caroline just uses our closets like they’re her own personal fashion mall. I should take her favorite tank, that pale green one with the blue tie dye pattern. She’d freak, especially if it got ripped. Like, accidentally.

 I’m leafing through Carol’s hangers (she irons all her tank tops, jeans and bras, if you can believe it) when Fran walks in and closes the door.

“You want to help me destroy this?” I ask her, and hold up the tank so she can see. She shakes her head.

“I took your scarf, Bell. I can’t get it back either,” she says, and starts crying. Crying right in front of me. “Don’t tell Ma, okay?”

 Fran doesn’t cry. She’s a total sports hardass.

“I won’t say anything. Jesus, it’s a scarf, Fran.” I grab a tissue off Caroline’s dresser and hand it to her, so she can clean up her nose—it’s dripping.

“It’s not the scarf. I mean, it is—I’m sorry I took it. I should have asked first. I wish I hadn’t taken it!!!” She just howls into the tissue, trying to keep it quiet and getting louder at the same time.

“What happened?” I put my hand on her shoulder, like I haven’t for three years.

 She sniffs and wipes her eyes.

“I told Ma I was going to Sherry’s house last night, but I was really meeting this guy— I talked to him all last week on the phone.”

She blows her nose, and I grab more tissues. Her eyes are still really wet.


“He’s this skater guy, that my friend Dean knew, sort of, so I thought he was okay. He asked if I’d go to a party with him and it turned out to be just an empty building with a lots of guys and kegs, and a few weird girls. So I told him I had to go home, and he begged me to come and eat burritos at his house with him. Like he really wanted to have a date. And when we got there, it was a horrible crappy apartment with a couple of drunk guys that were his roommates…”

“Oh no.”

 I sat down on Caroline’s bed, knowing she’d know from the crinkles in the bedspread, no matter how I smoothed it out later. She always knew. Fran sat next to me, really close.

“I was wearing your scarf as a belt, with my Traitor jeans? And before I knew it he was pushing me down, and pulling off my t-shirt. I told him I was leaving and he smacked me, right in my chest.”

 Oh no.

“Didn’t you scream, Fran? Didn’t those jerks come to help you?”

 Fran looked at me. Crying and smiling.

“No. He covered my mouth with his hand, and I was afraid they’d come in, too, and do things...”

 She sniffed again, hard.

“Then he took your scarf and tied one of my hands to the bed with it. He was looking for something to tie my other hand with, but I scratched and ripped myself free before he saw. And I ran seven blocks so fast, I didn’t even know if I still had my shorts on.”

 She showed me her wrist— scratched and bruised, purple blue, with thin red lines from her own fingernails. 

“So your scarf is still there,” she said. “And I’m not going back for it.” 

 I took her arm and held it, thinking how hard she must have scratched to break through the nylon of my scarf. Lucky it wasn’t a bandanna.

“Caroline was really acting like she took it,” I said. “You know how she sounds like she’s lying even if she isn’t, and then flakes off instead of telling you anything.”

“I know,” Fran told me. “But she only does it to drive you crazy.”


JohnPainter said...

This is a very moving and ironic piece and, although it is certainly strong enough to stand on its own as is, I really want to get to know these characters better, so I'm hoping for a second part.

heavy hedonist said...

Thanks-- I'm hoping I can find them again, these girls.