April 10

National Siblings Day

 

“We’re family.”

Callie has the face she puts on when she wants something.  Your sister has some nerve bringing up family.  She always made herself scarce when life got tough, like when Mom fell sick and the house had to be emptied and sold.  Yet Callie showed up afterwards, all smiles, asking how the silverware and hummel figurines would get divided up.  Half each seems fair, don’t you think? If you want to eBay them yourself, that’s fine — just send me my share.

When you had your operation, Callie never came to visit.  Not even a Get Well card.  She didn’t offer space in her home while you recovered, though you’d let her stay with you when she and Liam broke up.

That difficult stretch after you lost your job, Callie must have known you’d need some of the money you’d loaned her over the years — for college classes, for back-rent, for a new car.  The phone would ring and ring, your name large in her Caller ID, and she never picked up.

But now, now that the world’s ended, you’re suddenly family again.

“We’re siblings,” Callie says, banging on the metal door.  “Half your food seems fair, don’t you think?  I know you’ve stocked up.”

You have to admit, she looks rough.  Through the wire-reinforced glass you notice some of Callie’s hair has fallen out.  Her lips look dry and cracked as she tries to smile.  Smudges of dirt mar her complexion and only partly cover purplish oozing sores on her cheeks and at the corners of each eye.

It’s really hard to look at her.

So you slide the panel shut over the window.  You put fingers in your ears to block your sister’s pleading, and her angry fists banging at your door.