Jan/Feb 2015  •   Fiction

Sister & Me

by Bowen Astrop

Image courtesty of the British Library's Photostream

Sister says I shouldn't be running with the scissors in my hand. But what does she know? She's just a dumb girl with a bum leg who's jealous of me coz I come out normal and can run really fast when I want to. Mama says the brace sister's got to wear for the rest of her life ain't no laughing matter. If that's so, how come all the kids we know is always pointing at us and sniggering when we go by? The school bus don't go past our house no more, which is why we got to walk through where all them kids live. We is the only ones live on Molson Road, and the district people got it in their fat heads it was too far out for the bus to go for one family. So now we got to walk the two miles to where the school bus stops up near the bend along Cedar Creek Highway. Them lousy kids, what with their folks being better off than ours, don't got to ride the bus. That's how come they is always home ahead of us and we got to pass by them while they is outside playing. Well, when the weather is nice and all. If we wanted to sneak past 'em, we couldn't. Not with sister's stupid brace clanging along against the ground, blabbing to anyone with ears we was coming. Sometimes them kids watch us like we is wild pigs in a shoot, squealing for their delight. But they don't hardly never say nothin'. Ceptin' sometime they do. Sometime one of 'em gets up the muster to squawk an unkind. When they does, I always come back with something of the same. I remember this one time, Jim Wesley come over and say something real nasty like, and I pulled up a clog and spit it right in his face. We done gone at each other after that til his mama come out a' hollerin' like nothing else for us to stop. We didn't pay her no mind, and it weren't 'til ole Mr. Lester, the colored man who done handy work for some of the richer white folk in the area, come up and pull us apart. He done lectured us and made us shake hands before sister and me was let on our way. Me and Jim Wesley held a grudge against one another for a good, long while after that. Then we patched things over and come to be thick as thieves, we did. Was me and him who snuck into the school one night back a ways and let loose all them critters in the science lab. Funniest damn thing you done ever did see. Everybody comin' in the next morning, and not a one of them, teacher included, noticing any of 'em was gone til a lil' ole lizard run its way up alongside the wall and one the girls in class started a' screamin'. Took near an hour to round 'em all up after that. Ceptin' for this one mouse we still ain't never accounted for. There is some like to say one of them snakes we let loose that night ate it for a tasty meal. But me and Jim Wesley figure it done gone and slipped its way out under the door and scurried itself off to freedom like we try 'n do every day when the school bell rings. Course, sister and me is always stuck for longer waiting on the stupid bus, which runs late more often than it don't. Ole bag of bones don't even got nothin' in the way of a crip platform to help us out. That makes it a twice a day struggle to get her up them worn out steps. Me basically behind her, pushing her sorry butt up. It's better than me being in front and lifting her on. Like I'm a' huggin' on her or something. No thanks, is all I got to say. I got enough damn grief already. I ain't looking for people to tell me we was making out coz I had her in my arms pulling her up on that stupid ole bus. Easier just to shove her up into it. Dumb girl. Can't climb. Can't play. Can't even walk right. Telling me not to be running with scissors in my hand.