The Sisters

This is one of several stories in my memoir in the making. For the full collection click here.

Top: the youngest sister, Sabine. Bottom: the eldest sister, Cassandre.


Between every set of sisters is a dynamic as unique to them as their DNA, and each has a moment in their lives that can perfectly sum it up. The Joseph sisters have a habit of getting on each other’s nerves and laughing at the other’s pain, so naturally, this is how their defining sister story goes:

Two sisters–one young enough to still wet the bed yet old enough to form full sentences, the other a temperamental dancer very proud of and vocal about her various abilities–sit together on the eldest’s bed on a fine Sunday afternoon. This is a rarity in the Joseph sisters’ room: “You stay on your side and I stay on mine,” was the general rule, but today is a different day. Today they sit in peace for the first time in a long time, finally following their mother’s instruction to “play nice.”

They do for a while. Everything is gumdrops and lollipops until an argument starts out of the blue. There is no logic behind the spat–there rarely is when children are involved–but these two intensely emotional and stubborn sisters take it to the next level.

“Stop it or I’m gonna pee on your bed,” says the youngest.

“You wouldn’t,” her sister replies.

She’s right. Ordinarily, her sister wouldn’t dare making such a move; it could get them both in trouble and ruin a mostly perfect Sunday, not to mention doing so would be the classic rookie mistake of pulling out the big guns on the first play. But she wasn’t backing down.

“Oh yes I would. 1 . . . 2 . . .3 . . .”

And the stream begins flowing as she stretches out the final number for dramatic effect. It slowly creeps toward the eldest sister, gradually shrinking her dry mattress island. The eldest gives a horror-movie-worthy shriek of the simultaneously most comforting and terrifying word a child (especially a mischievous one) can hear: “Mom!”

So Mom came running. She first begins fretting over whether or not her babies are okay, then she takes in the scene. Her face shifts to slight annoyance upon realizing that her quiet time (the first she’s gotten in a long time) has been interrupted by what is not a life or death emergency.

“Bibine peed on my bed” the eldest complains.

The accused looks as innocent as can be despite the pool of evidence she’s sitting in, so her dutiful mother gathers her in her arms, ready to carry her to the bathroom for cleaning.

“Clean it up,” her mother says; you can almost hear the cartoon sound effect of the eldest’s jaw-dropping. She looks at her mother incredulously and her mother stares back with a look that says “Well? That wasn’t a request, so get going.”

As her mother cradles her, the culprit turns and smiles at the eldest like Michael Jackson at the end of “Thriller.” It is a memory that brings a smile to the youngest’s face and a cringe to the eldest’s to this day.


In Miami

By Sabine Joseph

In Miami,

Music courses through the streets like blood runs through veins.

It flows through its people, fueling them to create

Art that decorates every wall and amazes every passerby.

My own eyes can barely believe what they see before me.

I stand in the midst of such a beautiful city and thank God for what He created.

The Greatest Story I’ve Never Read

By Sabine Joseph


For so long I’ve claimed

That it’s where I was born and raised,

But only recently did I realize

That’s a lie.


Well, not a lie really,

A half truth.

I was born there,

But raised almost everywhere else.

Some cities had “Miami” in the name,

Others didn’t,

But none could truly be called



Yet, somehow I still feel that

Miami is home.

No matter where I go,

I will never have left.

I have yet to see the world,

Yet I’m sure there’s nowhere else like it.


Miami is like my favorite book

That I’ve never opened.

Written in its history and people is

A beautiful story

That I’ve never fully experienced.

It was a birthday gift from years ago,

But to this day I’ve only read the jacket.


From the cover alone,

I’ve fallen in love with the novel.

I long to crack it open

And lose myself in its pages.

Dive. (Part 2)

This poem is based on a quote from my last post.


I’m standing on the edge of a new life,

My feet buried in the smooth sand below me:

It’s soft, comfortable, familiar to the touch

In front of me is the sea⏤

Vast, cold, and unforgiving


The sky above is blue,

Calm in the midst of chaos

I inch closer to the edge,

My breath hitches at the sudden touch of cold water;

I inch back

Fear is caught in my throat

Like a menacing manifestation of the sand below

Scratching, burning, making it hard to breathe


The tide subsides, the sand dissolves,

I breathe

A deep, shaking breath

I have only moments before the tide comes again,

I must make a choice


Do I stay on the shore:

Safe, secure, and stuck in the same life

Or do I leap into the water:

The dark, deep unknown

To transform into a new version of myself


The water is rushing back to shore,

I’ve made my choice.

I do not inch in either direction

For it is useless

I’ve chosen the water

And I cannot come to it slowly

The only thing to do is


Women’s March on Washington Spreads Around the World

The Harbinger

By Sabine Joseph

The day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, scores of marchers gathered in the capital, around the country, and around the world to make a statement for women’s rights in the Women’s March on Washington.

Alarming comments about women made by the President  throughout his campaign sparked the marches. These comments struck fear in the heart’s of women and ignited a fire that filled them with strength to fight for their rights.

According to the movement’s official site, the goal of the marches was for the groups targeted during the election— women, immigrants, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, Muslims, those with disabilities, and those who’ve faced sexual assault— to stand up and “send a bold message to our new government on their first…

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Streep’s Golden Globes Speech Gets Political; President-elect Trump Reacts

The Harbinger

By Sabine Joseph

The 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards took place on Sunday, Jan. 8, and prompted days of discussion in the media. Actress Meryl Streep was presented with the Cecile B. DeMille Award for her contributions to the entertainment industry. She turned her acceptance speech into a platform in which she expressed her feelings on Trump.

Streep used her influence as a revered actress to deliver a message about what the victory of President-elect Donald Trump means for American society. Trump’s actions during his presidential campaign impacted Streep, specifically the instance in which Trump mocked a disabled reporter.

“It kind of broke my heart when I saw it and I still can’t get it out my head,” she said about Trump’s behavior.

His impression of disabled New York Times reporter Serge F. Kovaleski at a rally in South Carolina is an instance often cited by his opponents. Trump has…

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The following is a true short story that I was asked to write for my English class. I may be updating it soon with any suggestions my teacher has for it. I hope you enjoy! 🙂

“You okay?” my friend Yvette asked. “You don’t look so great.”

“I’m fine,” I replied, “just a little nervous.”

That was a lie. I was more than a little nervous, I was so anxious that I felt physically ill. My nerves had progressed throughout the day and by 5th period when I saw Yvette my stomach was knotted so severely that I thought I might throw up. It made no sense, the competition was so many hours away and yet still I was already a nervous wreck.

That day, Friday, February 20, 2015, was the Solos and Ensembles evaluation for band students in all of Florida. It was my 8th-grade year and I’d already been to the event once before, but I didn’t do as well as I hoped and I was so sure the same would happen that night. I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed because of the songs I was playing and how important they were to me. The first song I would play was Habañera from the opera Carmen, and I wanted so badly to play the piece well because years before my sister and her friends played it, as per the tradition at Miami Lakes Middle. I had planned to play the song in the previous year’s competition, but the other two flutists in the trio didn’t come through, so I had to wait another year to play it with new teammates. That year, I’d be playing with two 7th graders—  something unheard of at Miami Lakes because it was always the 8th graders who played the song—  but I had faith in Yvette and Nayeli, the only person I worried about was myself.

“Guys, would you mind running it again?” I asked my teammates.

“Yeah, no problem,” Nayeli replied. “Just let me finish setting up.”

Yvette, who had already assembled her flute agreed to play with us and went to get herself a stand.

We moved into the hall to get away from the noisy band room so that we could hear ourselves better, and when we were all settled— with tuned flutes, properly adjusted stands, and annotated sheet music— I led the group in playing one of my favorite pieces. We ran through it perfectly. And then again. And again after that. We’d played through the number perfectly a million times before, and we did it a million more times in that hour we took to practice. After the two millionth perfect run, when I was slightly more confident in myself, I broke apart from my group to practice my solo.

As nervous as I was for my ensemble, I was 10 times more nervous for my solo. My solo, called Air Gracile, was a lyrical piece— a challenge because of its high notes and slow pace. It would be the true test of my talent as a musician. Not only was I on my own— meaning there would be no one else to carry the melody and cover me up if I made a mistake, and there would be no one else to blame for a bad score— I was also playing the piccolo. While technically I played flute for three years (but if I’m being honest with myself it was only two) I had even less experience on the piccolo. I had begun playing in 7th grade, but since I had to share it with two other players it was difficult to really develop the talent for it. When I picked it back up in 8th grade I didn’t have to share anymore, but I still had a rocky start. Transitioning from flute to the tiny piccolo was strange, and it was all the more difficult when you factored in all of the piccolo’s mechanical issues that I had to work around. All of that combined contributed to the queasiness I felt when I contemplated playing my solo.

I practiced and practiced until the bell rang, signaling the end of the school day, and then for several hours after that until my mother picked me up to go home. Because of the fact that I lived so far from the venue, almost as soon as I got home I had to leave. I just barely had enough time to get dressed, sporting my formal band uniform— a tuxedo shirt with matching tuxedo pants and bow tie, accented with a maroon and gold vest that showed off my school’s colors and mascot— before running out the door to avoid being late. My mom told me to sit down and eat something but I couldn’t, there were too many butterflies in my stomach for me to have an appetite.

On the ride over I ran through my pieces a few more times. My sister who was in the car was delighted to hear me play her old piece.

“I’m so proud of you,” my sister squealed. “Hold on, I have to send a video of you to the old squad.”

I was all prepared to play for my sister’s old flute friends, but when I tried playing the first note, there was no sound.

“OH. MY. GOD,” I screamed. “The flute’s not working.”

I panicked. It could not be happening, not then, not less than two hours before the competition. I would definitely fail. Even if I could borrow a flute, I didn’t have enough time to get to know it, and there was no guarantee that it worked as well as I needed it to. I kept trying and after endless excruciating seconds, I got it to work again. I hadn’t realized that my heart had stopped beating until that moment when it started up again, beating so hard that I thought it would leap out of my chest.

The rest of the ride went fairly smoothly. I packed away my flute after the scare and I managed to get my heart rate to a pace that was only slightly abnormal. When I arrived at the venue, on time for the first time in my life, I spotted a sea of maroon in the middle of the courtyard and headed for it. I met up with the rest of my band and we walked in together carrying burdens much heavier than our instruments. My group and I got together and rehearsed the song one last time, and then it was showtime.

“Relax girls, you’ll do fine,” my band director said. “You’re capable players and if you play like you do in practice, you’re sure to take the superior title.”

With those words of encouragement, as well as some from our families followed by hugs and kisses, we stepped into the room where our judge awaited. I expected a dragon lady, but she was quite nice. She greeted us with a smile and a warm hello and waited patiently as we set up. When we were finally ready, we all took big breaths and started on the count of three. We played flawlessly and received compliments from the judge when we finished. Finally,  it was over. Or most of it anyway.

My solo was next, but the judge asked me to go get Yvette who had left the room because she’d be playing after me. I had to play in 5 minutes and it took way longer to find her, so when I did I rushed back to the room. Except the venue was a large and unfamiliar college campus, so I got lost on the way which stressed me out beyond belief. When I finally did get to my room, I was out of breath from running so far and my chest rattled with each intake of air.

“Are you ready?” the judge asked. I nodded in reply. “Alright, take a deep breath.” And I did, or at least, I tried to. I tried to suck in as much air as I could but my lungs couldn’t take in enough. I began my solo with a shaky breath and every other breath after was shallow and gave me just enough air to hit each note. Once again I received compliments from the judge when I finished, but this time I didn’t run off to find Yvette. Instead, I stayed to hear her play her solo, a difficult piece that my sister had played in the past, and she did so well that she made my sister and I extremely proud.

After that, to pass time before the results came out, I watched some of my other friend’s performances. I listened and applauded to several wonderful performances until it was time to see our ranks. All of my fellow bandmates gathered around the double doors where the scores were posted and waited patiently, for the most part anyway. I was so anxious that I paced and squirmed and stayed in constant motion just to give myself something to do.

“I’m starving,” I announced suddenly, realizing that my stomach had been begging for food as it had been eight hours since my last meal. I got a slice of pizza and a can of coke, the go-to band performance dinner, and continued pacing. What was taking them so long? I thought, and as soon as I did, the question was answered. A man stepped out from behind the double doors and said “Sorry, we’re having trouble with the printers. The results will be out soon.” They were not out soon. I waited forever before I finally heard the door cracked open again and the same man emerged with a group of helpers. We backed away from the door and allowed them to post the ranks, and as soon as they stepped back inside to safety, we pounced.

It was a like some kind of jungle fight. There were people biting and scratching and elbowing all trying to wiggle their way to the front to see how they’d done. When I finally got to the front I scanned the sheets quickly for my name.

It was a blur of names until I made out Yvette’s and saw superior next to it.  How great for her I thought, she deserved it. Then I glanced back at the same spot and realized something else; next to Yvette’s name was Nayeli’s, and then right after was mine. It couldn’t be. The score I saw wasn’t for Yvette’s solo, it was for our trio, and we got superior. I was so excited. I had lived up to my sister’s legacy and proven to myself that I could do it. Now, all that was left was to find my solo score. I knew it wouldn’t be superior, my mom and sister told me I that I played well, but also softly because I was short of breath, so I knew that would cost me major points. I went further down the list until I saw my name, but I couldn’t bear to look.

My sister took the burden upon herself and stepped up to the double doors. She looked at the spot that had my name and remained expressionless. I got more worried, if it was even possible at that point. Was I that bad? Did I get below an Excellent? Spit it out woman!

Finally, she turned to me, looked me dead in the eye and said just one word: “Superior.”

Photo credit: Google Images