As it gets closer to the anniversary of my little sister’s death, I can’t help but to miss her all the more. I wrote this piece about the way we stuck together as little kids. She was always the strong one.
My earliest memories are held in the house on 105th Street in Omaha. We always shared a room, Cathy and me. The one down the hall on the left was not much bigger than a walk-in closet. Our bunk-beds lined one wall and the dresser was on the other. There must have been some kind of chair or something because I remember trying to keep some food stashed there so we had something to eat.
I don’t recall how our days started when Mrs. Body was there, only long hours closed into the basement or huddled together outside at the bottom of the “big hill” in that drainage pipe. I know we ran wild all along the crick which was surrounded by scratchy bushes, and
trees leading down to the forest. I remember being so hungry that I ate those bright orange flowers—some kind of lily.
One night, Cathy led us on a raid into the kitchen. Pitch black, we just wanted some cereal or bread—something. I know she took the lead because I was too timid to try to stand up for myself. We tried to be so quiet—any little sound and we both froze. Crawling along the hall, I followed her into the kitchen.
We had to stand to reach the black metal handles on the wood cupboards. She pulled the
first one but it made a metallic thud sound as she pulled. We stopped breathing, waiting for Mrs. Body to flip the lights on and catch us.
But it didn’t matter now because we both knew we would not eat. The cupboards were locked.
I think she held my hand as we went soundlessly back to our room—stomachs empty, but no beating from having been caught either.