She was small enough to fit in your pocket. Blonde hair. Big eyes. Button nose. On the day she was born, I was a child—still wearing cowboy hats and cap guns.
My mother handed her to me and said, “This is your sister. Be careful with her.”
I had never seen anything so pretty.
A few years later, we were at my aunt’s house. A big barbecue. I was eight, eating dangerous amounts of pulled pork.
I remember my father, standing near the grill. My mother was beside him. I was supposed to be watching the girl, but pulled pork has bewitching powers over my delicate mind.
There was a pool at the neighbor’s house. The girl wandered off to look at it, but I was too busy smearing pork all over my face to notice.
By pure chance, I spotted her from across the yard. But I was one moment too late.
She was staring downward into the pool. She fell in. Nobody saw it happen but me.
I dropped my paper plate. I ran so hard
my legs burned and my lungs hurt. I jumped in. She had already sunk by the time I reached her.
I placed her tiny body on the grass. She coughed up mouthfuls of water. The adults came running. Lots of hollering.
The girl looked at me with weary eyes. “Let’s do that again!” she said.
When she turned five, our world turned sour.
The night after my father’s funeral visitation I was still wearing my Sunday best. She wore a black dress with lace collar.
A crowd was in our den, eating funeral food, saying things to each other like, “He was a good man.”
She was outside, knees against her chest. Numb. I sat beside her.
We spent the rest of the night, sitting in a walk-in closet, playing Candyland by flashlight. I slept on the floor beside her bed for…