Getting Along

I remember how much my mother wanted my sister and I to “just get along.”

“Why can’t you two just get along?”

Being six years younger, I was about as useful as a prickle in your sock to my sister. I asked too many questions, I was excruciatingly embarrassing on the walk to school (enough that she walked 10 steps ahead) and when my sister began to have boys at the house it was me asking all the questions.

“Where are you going? Can I come? Why can’t I come?”

We were living two different lives. At age 10 I was in my brightly coloured bedroom full of Barbies, Bay City Rollers and sunshine; just down the hall my sister, aged 16, was burning incense in her purple themed room, listening to Bob Dylan and Lou Reed.

A deep and broody “I said hey honey, take a walk on the wild side” in one room.

A One Directionesque “I only wanna be with you..” in the other.

I was doing my thing, she was doing hers – but when my sister ventured only two blocks away to live with the other newly enrolled nurses at the hospital, I thought my life was over. And in a way, life as my family knew it, kind of was.

After dropping the first little traveller at the airport last week, the remaining three little travellers sat with G and I at the dinner table.

“You’ll have your own room tonight!’ I said trying to instill some excitement.

No-one cracked a smile.

“Hey Annie, do you want to sleep in our room tonight?” offered her younger brother.

“Maybe. If I don’t tonight I will tomorrow night.”

The following night G and I came home from dinner to find all three snuggled in bed together in the playroom.

As the week wore on I noticed we were having more and more conversations about the first little traveller. Had I heard what she was doing? Would the school tell me if she were to get sick? Which airline was she flying? Exactly when would she be home?

When the night finally came for the first little traveller to return from camp I had to put everyone to bed before setting out to the airport. The first little little traveller was full of beans as she came off the plane. She had stories of hiking, temples, yoga, and the Sri Lankan girl who had held her hand all day even though they didn’t speak the same language.

“I bought presents” she said.

I thought Annie might like this necklace, I’ve got the matching earrings, and I bought her these bracelets, they’re really cheap, I know she loves them.”

Back at the house the first little traveller inhaled a plate of food while she gave me a blow by blow description of each day at camp. Who slept where, who got sick, who was funny, who was sad. It was nearly 1.00am when we headed up the stairs for bed.

I noticed the first sheet of paper when we were nearly at the top of the stairs, then another, then another, each piece of paper making a path to the first and second little traveller’s room.

Hi! Youre Home!” said the first sheet.

Just follow the arrows

We ate Pad Thai” I thought back through the week, it was the first meal we’d had after the first traveller left.

Went to school late” we’d all slept in.

I wore some of your clothes” I was surprised she’d confessed, she’d had a new outfit each day thanks to her older (absent) sister.

Quit snoring” the first little traveler initially read it as “quit smoking” we both giggled in the darkness.

Ate at The One” she was letting her know we’d been to a restaurant for lunch.

Mum ate your Kinder Surprise” thanks a lot dobber.

Won a soccer match against the A team” I thought it was a draw, but, okay.

Finally finished my book! P.S. Esperanza Rising is a good book

The final page was at the foot of the first little traveller’s bed.

Missed you.

The first little traveller and I looked over at the second little traveller fast asleep in her bed.

“She really did miss you.”

“I missed her too” she smiled.

I knew that in three days time we’d be back to normal. Someone would breathe the wrong breath, someone would stand in the wrong spot, someone would talk in the wrong voice. But in this moment they were beautiful. Sisters who meant something to each other that no-one else could ever hope to understand or replace.

It’s just so nice when they get along.

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