This is one of several stories in my memoir in the making. For the full collection click here.
Me: at the top looking disapprovingly at Cassy’s ridiculousness. Cassy: at the bottom, being ridiculous.
Under the fluorescent lights of Publix, everything’s aglow, especially the lovely pregnant woman ringing up our groceries. Her belly is out two feet in front of her and she wears a ring on her left hand with the tiniest diamond you’ve ever seen. Her green vest has a name tag that reads “Marcy” and her smile is as radiant as her flaming red her as she greets us: “Did you find everything okay today?”
“Yes, thank you,” we say. We stocked up on the essentials–Cape Cod chips, Nutella, sushi, and two slices of cake.“Mmmmm chocolate, my favorite,” says Marcy as she eyes the cake. “I’ve been craving it all throughout my second trimester, with a few modifications of course– applewood smoked bacon and jelly beans–I can’t really explain it,” she laughs.
We laugh too. There’s something so refreshing about her kindness and energy. I ask her the name and gender; she’s expecting a girl, Annalise. Cassy (the eldest Joseph sister) and I both agree it’s a lovely name. She hands us our receipt and wishes us well, we do the same.
We step out of the frigid air and artificial light of the store into the parking lot where afternoon is turning to evening, painting the sky sapphire and dotting it with shining stars, as we walk the tree and lamppost lined sidewalks on the familiar path back home.
I scan the sidewalk intently, looking for leaves that would be the most satisfying to step on, pebbles to kick all the way back home, and lizards to avoid accidentally squashing. Cassy is walking alongside me, listening to music so loud that I can hear it from the earbud dangling at her chest. She’s playing “Walk Out” by Preedy; she’s always playing that song. Her current obsession with Soca music annoys me to no end. It’s not the songs– they’re pleasing to the ear and the hips– it’s that the stream of Soca music is nonstop. It flows through the house constantly, and even though I only hear it in the brief intervals when I’m not wearing noise-canceling headphones trying to drown out her music with my own, it’s still too much.
Despite the music blasting in her ear, she is passionately telling me of her plights as a college student and how Mom is trying to ruin her life. I’m almost a little surprised at this: Mom is out of the house and so are we, so we’re under no obligation to play nice. But we do. I listen and nod my head, still looking down at the path in front of me and the little pebble I’m kicking with each step, trying to think of the right words to say. I can’t relate to her problems– I’m what is known as the “perfect,” “favorite,” or “golden” child, so I’ve never had such issues. Nevertheless, in terms of sisterly wisdom, I am a master who can resolve any issue with a few smart words, so I dole out a simple truth that completely blows Cassy’s mind:
“You’re just like Dad and I’m just like Mom,” I say. “That’s why you two don’t get along.” Cassy considers this fact and I can see in her facial expression the moment this revelation dawns on her.
“You’re right,” she says, almost surprised. Her unwarranted surprise is the only unexpected thing in this situation. Of course I’m right; I’m always right. But I elect not to remind her of this fact for fear it will be too much for her to handle. Instead, I tackle one astonishing truth at a time and elaborate on the I just told her.
“You have Dad’s people skills and some of Mom’s smarts,” I say, half expecting her to hit me for that “some of” remark. She doesn’t, so I continue. “I have Dad’s ability to sleep everywhere and Mom’s . . . well, everything.”
She nods in agreement, probably coming to the conclusion that I’m always right on her own, saving me the trouble of having to break it to her.
“Unfortunately,” I add, “we both have Dad’s looks.”
“Unfortunately for you maybe. I’m cute,” she quips back.
I trip her slightly for that and she shoves me back. Our laughs are drowned out by the sound of cars zipping by, but we both know without looking that a smile has spread across the other’s face.