“Rachel always was looking to be someone different.”
She didn’t look back, she just kept running.
My sister was something different. I could remember from they day I met her in the hospital, her dark brown eyes met mine and I got a tickle in my stomach. Rachel always was looking to be someone different. Mom and Dad had separated when she was in first grade and this was the point in which Rachel’s anger built up. Each year we would pick out our Halloween costumes with our grandma, and Rachel would always run into the aisle and pick out the same Scream Mask and fish net stockings. Grandma would sigh, but didn’t want to get involved in her craziness. In second grade she had a best friend named Sarah, everyday they would run home lock the door and play and laugh for hours. Oh, our sweet little Rachel. As Halloween of third grade came around, Sarah no longer came over, something about “not agreeing on the same costume.” I didn’t see Rachel for a week after that, but the trail of Godiva chocolate wrappers through the hallway gave me the sense she was still there. Amongst Rachel’s differences, she loved me more than anyone in the world. On stormy nights she would nuzzle up against me in my bed and the sound of her breath was more powerful than the racket outside. Whenever Rachel would act up, we would lie on the roof and stare at the stars, hand in hand we would hum her favorite song. At school I would see Rachel alone, after school alone, but that time on the roof we had each other, she wasn’t alone.
Today is Rachel’s first day of highschool year, my junior year. I rush downstairs, eat a bowl of cereal, get dressed and grab my keys. Where was Rachel? I wait by the door, expecting her to be down soon. “Mom, where the heck is Rachel?” I holler. No response, maybe she’s out getting coffee. “Rachel!” I scream up the stairs.
“What…” travels down the stairs in a moan.
“It is the first day of school and you’re sleeping, that’s a great start, stupid.” Just then, Mom walks in the door and she insists I leave and she’ll drive Rachel to school when she’s ready. I was too confused, why did Rachel not care at all, what had gotten into her?
My jaw drops. My head fills with disbelief. This could not be my sister? Who has taken over her? I walk past her, “Rachel?” She’s dressed in black fishnet stockings, a short leather skirt, with black outlining her eyes. It seems as if her Halloween costume has become a reality.
Her earbud slips from her ear. ”Hey Fran,” she says, then drops her head and continues walking. The rest of the day I can’t concentrate, there is no way Mom let her out of the house like that, I remember the day I tried to a short dress to the school dance and Mom totally flipped out. Thank goodness I survived the day without seeing my new sister again.
That night at dinner she’s dressed in sweatpants and a sweatshirt, I force myself to speak. “How was your day Rae?”
“Any good teachers?”
“Yeah they’re chill.”
I finish my chicken and go to wash the dishes, she drops her plate in the sink and I don’t see her till the next morning. Mom is puzzled by our lack of conversation, it bothers me too.
Within a few weeks Rachel makes a new friend, Eden. Just like Sarah they run up the stairs and lock the door, except this girl is different from Sarah. Eden dresses with skulls and black, her ear is filled with earrings and her voice is low and raspy. They must have lost interest in our house because after a couple of weeks they no longer came over. I once caught a glimpse of them slipping behind the fence by school and that night Rachel wasn’t home till after ten. One night it rained, my baby sister didn’t come to lie next to me. I sobbed harder than the rain falling onto our roof, the roof where we would lie and stare at the stars.
I was worried for my sister. What angered me the most was that Mom didn’t seem to care. Was I kidding, Rachel would never care what Mom said. As I laid in bed, without knowing where or who my sister was, I decided I was going to have to talk to her.
I couldn’t spit it out, I stumbled on my words. But the second I saw her dark chocolate eyes, surrounded by that awful ring of black makeup, the words poured out. “Where did my loving, kind, funny sister go.” I waited for a response, she glanced up with nothing to say. “Rachel talk to me, I love you, I care.”
“Am I not allowed to be different because you don’t accept me? Oh pardon me, I’ll just become an exact copy of you, Mrs. Perfect. Just mind your own business anyways, mother,” she rolls her eyes.
This was the first time she had spoken to me like this. I walked away and up into my room. I wanted to be alone, like a star in the hushed night sky, something my sister would actually want to look up to. That night I dreamt of my sister’s personality being stolen from her heart. I woke in a cold sweat.
Breakfast was uncomfortable, I couldn’t dare look at her stinging eyes and obnoxious soul. I no longer cared for who she would become, I gave up. In the halls I would see her and her “gang,” cutting class, laughing, they never made eye contact with me. It still bothered me, but I pretended I didn’t care. Until the day she smelt of drugs.
It was a cool spring day, days like these me and my friend Hannah would meet in the park to study. I came home around five, and Rachel wasn’t home yet. Mom was at court tonight, her and Dad still had conflict over custody. Rachel walked in the door around 8:30, an hour over her weekday curfew. Classic Rachel taking advantage of our family problems. I left her a hamburger on the kitchen table, but the minute she got home she walked straight to her room. Just then I smelt it, the sharp stinging smell of weed.
I ran to her room in a humph. I stared into her eyes, the chocolate eyes that I saw when she was an innocent baby, the ones that often were surrounded by a ring of black and the ones that now are bloodshot. She looked at me sideways. “Leave me alone.”
“What, so you can just smoke in peace?”
She stumbled over the rug and tossed me a plastic bag filled with green leaves. “You need to chill girl, have some,” she had a low tone and slurred her words. I shrieked, ran out the door, slamming it behind me.
Mom walked in, to see me in the hallway crying, without saying a word I pointed towards Rachel’s door. She walked in and I could hear her gasp. Mom never really did anything about it, it’s what we all expected.
I couldn’t take it, my sister was ruining her life. When Rachel was in elementry school I remember when she came home with a 60% on a math test she really worked hard on and she came home and said, “I wish I could just die.” This frightened me, I stirred all that night thinking of my life without my sister. Just like the Halloween costume I felt this too was becoming a reality too. But this time I had to stop it.
Everytime I saw her I would stare in shame. “Your life is crumbling and you won’t listen to me, it’s just stupid and total bull ***.”
“I don’t care what you say, you mean nothing to me, I’m happy and that’s all that matters.”
“Shut the *** up with the excuses, you are killing yourself and I feel like I’m going down with you.”
It felt good to say it, it just came out. She stopped and looked up at me. She heard me that time.
“I’ve gotten into this Fran, I’m not gonna get out.”
“And I tried to stop you…”
“That’s my sister, my perfect, always right sister.”
The next morning she came down the stairs, a backpack slung over her shoulder. She tossed me a note. She didn’t look back she just kept running. I collapsed onto the floor. “If you don’t love me here, I need to find somewhere where I will be loved.” So this was all my fault. The drugs, the goth everything was on me. I got up and tried to run, I fell on the grass. I called Mom, “Mommy she’s gone, Rachel is gone.”
“What do you mean?”
“She ran, she’s gone.”
“Why didn’t you follow her?”
“Why didn’t you get involved in your daughter’s life?” I grabbed my keys and rushed into the car. I searched all over town, Mom left work and was searching also. I called Sarah, Rachel’s old best friend, she told me about who Rachel was hanging out with and where should could possibly be. I thanked her, hung up and began searching for the house’s of her friends.
It was four hours later when we found her. She was hiding at a friends apartment in the town over. When I found her, I was stunned. There she was, my baby sister, the one I thought I would never see again. She looked tired and dirty, I grinned at her, my heart thumped. When we got home Mom hugged her, then she went upstairs.
Ironically, it poured that night. I hear her light feet on the creaky floorboards. I moved to the left side of my bed and she slipped next to me. The sound of her breath put me to sleep, “I love you Rachel.”
“I love you too, Franny,” and then came the tears.
The rain still came down, but the stars were unseen.