My sister, Scarlett, was everything that I am not. She was fair and beautiful, prim and proper with waist length flame red hair and bright blue eyes. Her pink glossy lips were mostly smirking at me or smiling at her friends. Long legs and tiny waist, moving with dancer like elegance. Her fingers were what intrigued me the most, they were always moving. Painting, writing, tickling me or playing with the special charm bracelet she wore on her right wrist.
I am the complete opposite of my sister. She was tall and her body had model like proportions. I am small and awkwardly bony. My eyes are normal and brown, there’s no sparkle and no glimmer to them like there is to hers. All my features look out of place like they have been forced onto my face. I am not really ugly, but then again I’m no head turner either. I’m just awkwardly in between, neither here nor there. Our mother would constantly nag at me, telling me to go “brush your hair back out of your face” and once my long, fine black hair was all brushed away and tied up, she’d still frown and say “you never do it right”. She’d moan about the clothes I wore, the books I’d read, the amount of time I spent on the computer. She’d compare me to my perfect sister who aced all her exams and had so many friends it would take her an entire day to put all their numbers into her phone when she upgraded it. She was asked by so many boys to go to the prom with her.
She was so perfect. But I didn’t mind, I idolised her. We used to be so close. But I guess it isn’t easy being miss popular if you have an oddball freak of a sister. It’s even less easy if you find out that her father was a rapist.
Scarlett and I were half-sisters. Her father had divorced our mother 4 years before I was born. Mother had been working in a late night café downtown near the docks. Nan would look after Scarlett so mother could work; she was usually home after 3 AM. But mother didn’t mind, she loved her little girl, she worked hard so that she could make sure that her little girl could have a good life.
She was walking home when she met my father.
She wasn’t going to report what had happened; but when she came home bleeding and hysterical at 6 AM, Nan got the picture. She took her estranged daughter to the police station and they were able to identify the man.
Mother took the next 2 weeks off work, trying to “sort her head out”. Nan says that it was the love she had for my sister that pulled her out of the depression and anxiety. But a month later when my mother found out that she was pregnant she was distraught. But she was determined to love me, it wasn’t my fault, I was an innocent baby.
9 months later when I was born, mother was less sure that she could love me. She couldn’t bear to see “his eyes” looking up at her, so she begged my Nan to look after me. I as happy and indifferent to what was going on around me. Until Nan had a stroke.
They had to take her away to a special hospital.
And I was back with mother.
She took me in, raised me. But I doubt she ever loved me the way she did for my sister.
That’s why she’s still sat there by the window overlooking the sea, on her wooden rocking chair where she once brushed Scarlett’s hair. She just sits and rocks. The chair makes a soft groaning sound as my mother sits staring into the mist. Her grey eyes empty. Her skin frail. Her existence is slowly melting away into nothingness. On the 19th July 2013, we had woken to find a note from my sister saying that she had left and that she wasn’t coming back. Ever since it feels like mother has died from the inside.
And me? I have had to pick up the pieces the only way I know how. I am my father’s legacy. I am walking those same streets I was conceived on trying to find customers who will help me pay the rent and buy bread and milk to feed myself and mother.
I wonder whether Scarlett is happy wherever she has gone. I wonder if she thinks about us. About me.
I know that mother wishes that it was the other way around, that I had gone and Scarlett had stayed. I sometimes think that it would just be more convenient if I slipped some poison in her tea and staged a suicide. But she is my mother and I love her even if she does not love me.
The sacrifices she made for me, I can now return. Seven months from now, a baby will be born. Its father had bright blue eyes and flame red hair. I will bring mother her red haired angel back. If not, oh well, maybe I will be lucky on the fourth try......
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