Sisters in Arms


Lara is sometimes so jealous of her little sister she wants to spit.  Everybody makes such a fuss over her cute little face and her long blonde curls and her great big smile.  She says funny things and she giggles all the time and she makes up her own words to God Save the Queen. Other than that, Lara firmly believes she’s really nothing special.

Their older brother seems to hate them both equally.  When their baby sister finally comes along, all three of the older siblings will be annoyed with her as well, but they don’t know that yet, nor do they realize how normal it all is.  If things turn out the way they should, all of them will eventually grow up and get over it and like each other just fine.

Moms are generally very impatient with this process, and will do whatever they can to speed it up.  Lara’s mom is sick of the arguing, teasing, yelling and just plain meanness she’s seeing from one daughter to the other.  It’s time for drastic measures to end the madness.

She pulls the sisters apart, sits Lara down in a corner by herself and hands her a book of stories with morals.  It looks a little churchy to Lara, and she’s sure it’s meant to teach her some dreary thing, but she obediently opens it up to the story her mother has marked for her.  Mom tells her that when she’s finished they’re going to have a talk about it.  Lara sighs loudly, knowing she won’t be able to just skip over the pages and say she’s done.  She wants to know why Ainslee doesn’t have to read something too – it’s so unfair!  Of course since Ainslee doesn’t know how to read yet, that whine is promptly dealt with.  Lara reads.

There are two sisters.  The little one is sick in bed, and the big sister is playing with her toys.  Little sister asks for a drink of water.  Big sister is flippant and rude and can’t be bothered.  Every time she’s asked, she makes up a new excuse.  She’s being even meaner than Lara would be.  Little sister is crying, big sister doesn’t care.  The story goes on with the little sister snivelling and whimpering and the big sister being unsympathetic, indifferent and just plain awful.   Lara sees what her mom is trying to point out to her.  Her behaviour has been bad, she knew that already.

She flips the page, blah blah blah…..and the next day, the little sister died.  Lara cannot believe her eyes.  She reads the sentence again.  AND THE NEXT DAY, THE LITTLE SISTER DIED.  Big sister is ashamed and remorseful, but it’s too late.  She never gets another chance to be kind to her sister.  Lara is devastated.  She throws the book on the floor and runs, sobbing, to her mother.

“She killed her!  I HATE that story!”  Mom puts her hands on Lara’s shoulders and tells her of course she didn’t kill her.  The little girl died because she was very sick.

“No, she did so kill her! She died!”   Did it say anywhere that she died of thirst?  No it didn’t.  It’s sad when someone dies, but it’s even more sad for the people who are left behind with regrets.  I don’t want you to grow up with a sister who doesn’t want to be your friend because you were always so mean to her.  Do you understand?

Lara thinks she sort of does.  The mean sister was the one who deserved to die.  But she doesn’t think that would have made things right either.  There’s much less bickering that afternoon, because Lara has a lot of thinking to do.

The next day Ainslee races into the kitchen yelling “MOM!  I’m getting so mad! Make her STOP!”  Their mother turns and glares at Lara, as if to say, really, have you not learned anything?  And Lara really doesn’t get it, because all morning she’s tried so hard to be nice.

“She keeps asking me if I want a drink of water and I don’t and she keeps on BUGGING me!”

Their mother doesn’t even crack a smile.  She takes a deep breath, hugs them both and shoos them away.  No more fighting.  Find a way to sort it out and try to get along!   She turns back to what she was doing.

You are SO ungrateful, Lara tells her sister.  I AM NOT!  Yes you are.  NO I’m NOT!  Are so….AM NOT!    Their mother turns around and this time her voice is raised, almost, but not quite, to the point of yelling.  “GO!  Get back outside!  If you come in here again you’ll both be sorry!  OUT!”

Well  that seems a rather abrupt change of mood.  The sisters trudge outside and sit down on the steps of the veranda.  Ainslee turns to Lara and tells her in a quiet little voice, “Mommy is SO ungrateful.”  Lara knows that’s not exactly the right word, but she agrees with her anyway.

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