She had invisible sharpened cat claws that scratched me bloody. I had known her for every moment of her life, and still…I can see her wicked smile every time she hit a vein. Oh, sure, she was the favorite one. The one who wouldn’t eat even as our mother begged, but the one who was adored for her small size as Mom called me that ugly, disgusting word –“big”. The one who got the permanented curls while I got the butchered bangs.
Yes, I was jealous. Of course, how could I not? And she knew it. I can see her inside of my mind, standing in our mother’s shadow. That smile as she watched Mom take anger out on my psyche. That smile as she feigned a headache, and I was handed her chores.
Mom handed out the labels that I squeezed myself into. I was the smart, big one. She was the petite popular one. That meant I had to be the clodhopper hiding in the corners of solitude with saddened eyes, afraid to step out, while she had countless friends and countless good times.
She had invisible sharpened cat claws that left me shredded, even though she was not as smart as me – Mom said. Each claw had a honing instinct that reached deeply into the spot that would hurt the most. Yet, any retribution was forbidden. It was my job to accept the abuse even as it drained my life blood of self.
She got what she wanted or else she took her teenage tantrum self to her car and hit the speedometer, breaking ninety and more. Once, I talked back, and Mom slapped my face. The humiliation stung worse than the pain.
At a time when I was counting out slices of bread at college, paid in full by my years-round job, Mom was buying her a house. I was jealous with the anger than simmered always, its stench unbidden.
Distance has its advantages, yet she reached across my self-imposed crevice and tried to get the federal government to invite me into their cells for punishment of an uncommitted crime, one never even considered. She reached across the canyon of my separation to get a restraining order barring me from our father’s hospital bed. Why? “Because I like to.”
She called my largest contractor repeatedly unbeknownst to me, causing them to pull away from my “unstable” business, which fell into the space between us, crashing on the rocks of her entertainment.
After a surgery, so needed a cane to walk, but refused. They found her lying on the sidewalk unable to rise. A concussion. “Use a cane for stability”, others urged. But no, she did not want to, always did what she wanted, and so she did not.
She fell again. Another concussion and two black eyes. And she fell again, another concussion. This time with convulsions. Another fall, and now there was brain damage.
She lost her short-term memory, but her short-fuse anger remained. Furious with me for imagined slights, “pissed off” and not speaking, which was a normal state of being, the two of us, and one I rather relished. Then, the text.
Two words, an apology that verged on the miraculous. And then, my world as I defined it in relationship with her shifted. The past tense had a new context, one that felt strange in my mouth. Now, I must feel my way in the darkness of this newness, of the formerly cat clawed person brain damage had shaped into something neoteric.
Copyright 2017 by Gloria Christie. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.