Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Stitch in Time Saves Nine” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/03/08)
TITLE: A Stain From HerTears
By Rita Garcia
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My sister Shelly was two months away from graduating and I was a junior in high school when Dooley moved into our neighborhood. In our small town, people never stayed strangers for long. Shelly and I both became friends with Dooley and the games began.
“No, you’re not asking Dooley to the senior prom. I told you last week I want to ask him to the junior prom.” I glared at my sister.
Shelly laughed. “Well, little Sis, that’s just too bad. I already asked him.”
“How could you? That’s so … so unfair. He won’t go.” I felt tears fill my eyes.
“Guess what, Barb? He already said yes.” Shelly glowed with triumph.
“I will never speak to you again; you’re not my sister.” I ran up the stairs and slammed my bedroom door.
I realize it sounds silly and immature, but I never spoke to Shelly again. I stayed away from her. In my defense, it didn’t help that Shelly and Dooley became inseparable. My parents saw no reason to excuse me from dinner just because Dooley was there with Shelly. I did the next best thing and ignored them. Four months later, Shelly left for college.
Of course, Shelly came home on weekends and vacations, but I kept my distance. There were times she tried to strike up a conversation with me, but I turned away. The following year I was off to college. Sadly, I avoided going home, making up one excuse after another. I held on and nourished my resentment.
In my second year of college I received a letter. I knew at once it was from Shelly from the distinctive way she wrote Barbara on the envelope. I ripped it opened.
“Barb, please forgive me.” The words seemed to move on the page.
That’s all I read before tossing it in a drawer, I didn’t know at the time how it would come back to haunt me. The only thing I was thinking was that I would never … never forgive her.
The following summer my mom called. “Barb, I have some bad news.”
“What’s wrong, Mom. Did something happen to Dad?”
“No honey, it’s Shelly.”
“Why are you calling me about her?”
“Barbara, listen to me: Your sister was in an accident.”
“So?” I said.
“Barb, she’s … Shelly didn’t survive the accident.”
“What are you saying, Mom?” I was frozen with fear.
“Shelly’s … she’s gone, Barb. She died this morning.”
I was devastated. I didn’t even go home for the funeral. I was no longer driven by my anger. My anger was replaced by self-abhorrence. I ran to the drawer and found Shelly’s letter.
“Barb, please forgive me. I really need you to listen to me. I’m sorry that this thing has come between us. There is something else I want you to know. Dooley asked me to marry him, and I said yes. I wish more than anything else in the world that you would be my maid-of-honor, Barb, you’re my only sister. I love you. I want you at my wedding. Please, Barb, I beg you, be my sister again.” I rubbed my finger across what I knew was a stain from her tears.
Now, twenty years later, I drove through the gates of the cemetery. I went inside the office and asked for directions to Shelly Harrison’s grave. I followed the winding path and turned where the small map indicated. I counted the rows and finally I saw the sculpture of an angel and somehow knew that was it.
I sat on the damp grass and the tears spilled down my face and onto my jacket. How could I have been so spiteful? If only I had talked to my sister, if only I had answered her letter, if only I had asked her to forgive me.
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