I have another sister.
She’s the opposite of the Deep Fried Oreo sister.
I remember the very first time I realized I could be free of her. I was a freshman in college and my father showed up at my dorm early one Saturday morning. An unidentified body was found behind Kmart. She was a caucasian girl, in her early 20’s, and the police asked if anyone could come forward and try to identify her. My father said that my sister had taken off again, something very normal for her. She dropped her toddler off, and had been missing for days. I don’t know what made him believe that this girl was her. When he called the police station, they asked him if she had any identifying birthmarks, scars, or tattoos. When he told them what they were, they asked him to come. He drove almost three hours to my dorm that morning because he couldn’t bear to go alone.
When we arrived there, they were surprised to see us. There must have been some miscommunication, they said. This girl was caucasian. We were very obviously, not. No, my father said, she is half. I saw the story of how he ended up with her flash in his eyes. If she had turned out to be different: kinder, happier, nicer…maybe the look in his eyes would be different. I’m afraid to say the word outloud.
They wouldn’t take us to see the body, they would show us on a monitor. She was heavy. Pale. Green. She had a mole on her face. She looked hurt. Displaced. All the things my sister was.
I looked at my father. He was pale and green. And sure that it was her. They asked us to put them in contact with our family dentist. The next step would be to send for her dental records. On the ride back to my dorm he asked me not to mention this to my mother. He had lied and told her he was going fishing. I promised that I wouldn’t. He napped in my room and left.
I spent the next several hours calling every name and number in my address book. Surely someone would have seen her last, knew who she had been with. My roommate and suitemates comforted me, fed me, took over the phone calls when it was clear I could not do more. My face swollen from sobbing most of the day, my shock and sadness turned to anger.
She had been running away from home since she was sixteen. She was cruel to my parents. She was careless with me. Nothing she ever did made sense. She had a baby that she treated like garbage, an angel I adored. She did whatever she wanted to do, and my parents always took her back. The positive things I had accomplished seemed to always be drowned out by her failures. It was hard to remember the strength of my light in the shadow of hers. My light glowed. Her light swallowed.
But she was my sister. And the pain that I felt at the idea of losing her was worse than anything she had ever done to me.
The detective in charge of the case called my dorm and asked me to watch the news coming on in just a few minutes. They had released an artist’s sketch of what the girl would have looked like alive to help identify her and they wanted me to take a look at the picture. I seemed unsure at the station, while my father did not. I watched, surrounded by friends, and looked at the sketch. To say my heart sank would be an understatement. I felt every moment of pain she had caused our family and every bit of love my parents had given to try and save her. I felt every bitter moment of mine, wishing that she had been the kind of big sister you see in the movies. It was the most selfish I had ever felt in my life and I let myself soak it in. I blamed her for never being there for me, for paving a harder road, for never protecting me, never sharing with me, never helping me, and now I blamed her for leaving me.
Two minutes could not have passed before my roommate ran in from our room. She handed me the phone and said, “It’s her.” I don’t remember the exact words of our conversation. I was shocked and upset. I could hear my sisters voice and not much more mattered. I know she asked what all the fuss was about and why I had strangers calling her friends. I know she laughed at me. I know she said she was out, with a new boyfriend, had been partying for days. To tell mom and dad she would be back for Bela soon. I know that I hung up on her.
I gave up on her for the first time in my life that day. And I was free of her.
*Today she moves in with my parents. Again. Separated from her fourth husband and with two kids in tow. She has spent the last year threatening everyone in our family. She is almost forty.*