Amy’s face was on fire as she walked to the door, cell phone to her ear. Clack, clack, clack: her heels were like cymbal strikes in the quiet conference room.
“Is something wrong, Sarah? You know I’m at work...”
“Guess what, Amy? Some sheriff somewhere got arrested for something! It was just on tv!” The words tumbled over one another in her sister’s excitement.
Amy forced herself to take a deep breath. “That’s interesting, Sarah. What did he do?”
“I don’t know...I just know he did something to get arrested!” An expectant silence.
“Well maybe you can find out more and tell me about it when I get home, ‘kay?”
“And goodbye to you too,” Amy muttered. Pasting on a smile, she returned to the meeting.
“Sorry about that, everybody. Now back to the Peterson account...”
“You won’t believe what Sarah did this morning!” Amy sagged into the bench. Beside her, her friend Melanie was already eating lunch, pulling the crusts off her sandwich and throwing them to the waiting pigeons.
“I already heard.” Melanie’s smile was sympathetic. “Stan in payroll said you almost lost the Peterson account.”
Amy pulled an apple out of her paper bag and chomped down as hard as she could. “Great. Just great.” She grabbed a napkin to catch the juice rolling down her chin. “Not only am I saddled with a sister who has the mentality of a 10 year old, but now I’m about to lose the job I support her with!”
“I’d put her in a home.” At Amy’s rolled eyes, Melanie added, “I’m just saying...”
Yeah, well, you didn’t promise your mother on her deathbed that you’d take care of her. But all she said was “It’s not that easy.”
And it never had been easy. Physically, she and her twin sister were identical right down to the mole under their left eyes. But mentally, they couldn’t have been more different. Amy sailed through school, always at the top of her class; Sarah struggled to learn to read. Where Amy was quiet, reserved, Sarah thought nothing of inserting herself into a stranger’s conversation. Or of calling Amy several times a day to relay what she’d heard on the news.
Amy was sure she’d forgotten something at the grocery store. “Broccoli, cheese--Gouda, the kind Sarah likes--milk, bread, eggs” she recited as she drove home. “Chicken, peanuts, peaches...” Then she saw the flashing lights.
Nausea hit her. Please God, no! She jumped out of the car and weaved through police cars and fire trucks, trying to get to the ambulance parked in front of her house.
“Ma’am, the street’s closed; you can’t come in here.” The police officer blocked her path, firmly taking her arm as she moved to run past him.
“It’s my sister,” Amy could hardly get the words out. “What’s happened to my sister?” The officer’s restraining hand loosened its grip but didn’t let her go. He turned with her, clearing a way through the crowd. Her panic rose with every step.
“My sister...” Amy’s voice sounded far away in her ears. “My sister...where?” The EMT’s mouth was open, words she couldn’t take in were coming out...And then she was tackled with a bear hug from behind.
“Hi Amy! Guess what? I saw Mrs. Miller’s dog barking in her yard and I knew something was wrong ‘cause she never lets him off his leash unless he’s at the dog park so I called 911 and she’d had a heart attack! And I get to take care of Cuddles while she’s in the hospital!”
Amy grabbed her twin, hugging her as hard as she could. “I can’t breathe,” Sarah grunted.
The EMTs were hoisting a stretcher carrying their very pale neighbor into the ambulance. Her voice was weak when she said, “That sister of yours saved my life, Amy. I don’t know what I would have done without her.”
Amy felt a nudge from the police officer: “Looks like somebody wants to interview the hero,” as he pointed out the news crew setting up their cameras.
“Amy, you have mascara running down your face!” Sarah’s whisper was urgent. “You can’t go on tv like that: you’ll embarrass me!”
“I’m a mess, aren’t I?” Amy laughed, wiping at her eyes. With a gentle shove, she pushed her sister toward the waiting reporter. “Guess it’s a good thing I’m not the one they want.”
The camera zeroed in on Sarah’s face. Her smile was radiant.
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