My Sister

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

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My Sister

“There’s something under my foot,” my younger sister moaned.

Turning my head a fraction, bristles of loose hair and the rough towel swept across my cheeks, and my silly little sister hopping on one foot came into view.

“There’s something stuck to your shoe, idiot,” I grabbed the plastic bag filled with chilled sweet drinks from her hands and stooped down so she can rest her weight on my right shoulder. I plucked out the thing sticking out from underneath her rubber slipper, and observed the hole it had bore through the partially smooth soles. I immediately removed the heavily soiled slipper and turned over her foot. The sole of her foot was dusty and covered with sand, and some callouses were starting to become apparent, but intact nonetheless.

“Why are you sighing?”

“You stepped on a super rusty nail, you super lucky idiot, now watch where you’re stepping.”

I straightened myself, feeling the sticky, sticky sweat coating just about every inch of my skin. Taking my little sister by the hand, I made my way past the row of mailboxes and the apartment’s ground floor, passed a white dog lying on the ground and passed a brown one and a black one before turning past a stained concrete wall to the equally stained lifts. Water marks, the yellow merging with the brown, was splattered over the surfaces.

“Someday, I hope our monthly rent is going to be used to paint these things,” I mumbled.

“Why isn’t the lift coming down?” My little sister asked.

I changed my position of grip on the grocery. The highly dense plastic was cutting into my skin, and the flimsy ones were starting to slip.

“I’m not sure, Sandy,” I said, punching the ‘up’ button for another three times. The display above our heads stubbornly showed an unchanging ‘S’ shape, which could have been an ‘8’ or a ‘6’ or a ‘5’ or a ‘9’, it’s hard to tell with two bars of light blown. I eyed the ‘out of service’ board placed at the neighbouring lift, and pondered for two seconds.

“Climb on my back, Sandy,” I said, squatting down, the weight of the grocery happily pulling me down as I did so.

“We are going hiking again!” Sandy ran over. “I will take the drinks.”

I stuffed most of the light-weighted grocery over to her, pushed both feet on the ground to stand up, and started a slow trudge up the stairs. The handle bars were rusty and creaky, so I kept well away from them.

The scent of smoke and nicotine lingered lazily in the stale air along the emergency staircase, and dim lights revealed the cigarette stubs, torn cigarette boxes and ashes strewn carelessly over the steps.

I skipped a step to avoid a pile of tissue paper.

“It’s scaryyyy,” said my little sister as we approached the next floor.

“Its just the lights, dear,” I said, and licked my lips and crossed my fingers as we stepped into flickering lights up ahead.

I secretly vowed for the hundredth time that if whoever in charge of the apartment’s management did not change the lights by the end of the month, I’m going to buy a fluorescent tube light myself and get this area illuminated nicely for good.

Squinting as the steps before me flashed bright and dark, I hitched Sandy up higher and tried to hum Sandy’s favourite nursery rhyme. We reached the next floor and played with the little flecks of light thrown in by the creaks in the walls, before the large number ‘5’ painted in brown loomed before us.

“Let’s rest for a while, Sandy,” I said, settling myself down on step. Sandy ran off to peek out of the creaks in the walls. “I can see someone’s clothes hanging outside!”

“Do you see any birds?”

“Yes! The crows are fighting again!”

“You should be able to see the backgate from here too,” I added.

There was a pause. “Yes! I see it now! It’s not locked again!”

I silently cursed the guard and tried to find a cctv around here just so I could glare at the guard who was monitoring the live footages from the guard house. But I could not find any and gave up the idea. It was stupid and childish and pointless anyway.

“Come back Sandy, just two more floors left and we are there,” I said, hefting myself into squat position.

“I can walk two floors,” Sandy ran over.

I patted her head gently and we started up. We reached the seventh floor as the emergency door leading to the sixth floor, the door we just passed by not two minutes ago, swung open and a group of laughing teenagers crowded in. One nudged the other and the other fished out a box of cigarettes and knocked a few stubs out as another handed over a lighter. They were lightly dressed, with only one of them wearing trousers. They were not the kind with any piercings or tattoos creeping over exposed skin, though. If anything, they just looked like a bunch of schooling teenagers in flip-flops who just got out of bed on a late Sunday morning.

We slipped back to the house. I had to place the groceries aside as I fumbled at the lock while Sandy shrinked away from the neighbour’s dog which was desperately trying to squeeze its head through the door as it barked.

“I’m home,” I mumbled and headed towards the kitchen.

“Sally, bring the things here,” mum’s voice drifted over.

Grandmother was watching television. Dad lifted his head from the newspaper for a second.  

“Sandy, go accompany grandmother,” I said.

Sandy’s face scrunched up. “No, you promised I’d get my present when we reach home.”

“It’s for tonight, Sandy. I promised I would show you tonight.”

Sandy sulked for two more seconds and stared at me for another three. “Tonight, you promised.”

“Of course,” I said. “Tonight.”

Sandy bounced off.

***

 

“Mum, where is sister?”

Night fell in. The clock was inching towards eight. Mum and I had got dinner ready. Mum would be laying out the dishes now. Any day but today, I would be beside my mother, getting everyone to the table and handing out spoons and forks.

Any day but today.

“Be patient, dearie,” I could almost hear my mother’s smile in her voice. I slipped out of the house as Sandy was kept entertained in the kitchen. I slipped the door lock back, cringing at the slight click it let out, and left for the lift.

The lift was still stuck with the ‘S’ hanging up there. I had anticipated that happening.

Gritting my teeth, I flicked my phone’s lights on, and charged down the emergency staircase. I charged down, pass everything, and did not stop until I reached the ground floor.

I crept towards the open space within the apartment, feeling the cool, cool night air, and cursed at the mosquitoes and night bugs congregating at the beam of light from my phone. They almost looked like fast moving dirt floating swiftly in the air.

I looked up, appreciated the few little twinkling stars far, far above, and located my unit’s window among a hundred other windows. It was not too hard, seventh floor, with Sandy’s little pot of cactus on the sill.

I took out the fireworks I had bought from the grocery store and positioned it at least ten feet away in the direction in front of our window. Next, I lighted a short segment of a skewer and blew the fire away, with ashes crumbling from the tip.

Looking around, I came eye to eye with a teenager in a jacket and sneakers skimming through his phone. My actions have also caught attention of another older man in shorts with a sunburnt and wrinkled face wearing a motorbike helmet. Another shadow shifted in the corner and I recognised the slightly deformed shape of the man who had always lied there, smiling dreamily at anyone who passed by.

I turned back and lighted the fireworks. It shot up, straight and exploded then, beautifully, right at the height of my unit’s window, the sound of explosion ringing loud and clear, screaming for attention despite the noise of traffic from the road outside. One, two….

“Come on Sandy….” I muttered.

Then at the third explosion of fireworks, Sandy’s face appeared! Blue, green and red sparks of light let out by the fireworks illuminated her face at the window, excited and smiling. I beamed and tried to give her a wave, but of course she could not notice me down here.

Dad and mum were beside her, presumably trying to prevent her from opening the window. I eyed all the other windows. Most curtains were drawn, and a few curious heads appeared from behind. But the fireworks had already stopped, the remaining black ashes and a darkened stump lying on the concrete floor. I hastily threw the stump away and ran back up the emergency stairs before anyone recognised me and complained to the guards.

I couldn’t hide my grin as I burst back in to the kitchen. Everyone was there, grandma, dad, mum, and Sandy. Grandma was ushering me in, mum and Sandy were smiling, dad was already digging in, and a seat was left for me. Right on the table, among other dishes, was Sandy’s favourite alphabet shaped chicken nuggets and the chilled drinks.

“Happy Birthday Sandy!!!”

 

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: May 18, 2021

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