Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Sibling(s) (05/01/08)
- TITLE: Dream Sister
By Myrna Noyes
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Five year-old Maxee had just come home from her afternoon kindergarten session. A new photo album lay on the table, and she walked over to open it. Inside were photos of Maxee’s near mirror image, a girl with the same hair color, eyes, and smile. It was her half-sister Rachel, two years younger than herself. Their mother had been pregnant several times—all by different men—and had aborted a couple, adopted out Rachel at birth, and kept Maxee and her year-old half-brother Stockton. They lived with their mom and Grandma. Maxee never knew anything about her own father, and her mother was wrapped up in a struggle against panic attacks and agoraphobia. She didn’t have much time for her kids, and sometimes Maxee’s heart ached.
As the little girl flipped through the pictures, she saw Rachel in her pretty rainbow-themed bedroom, around the glittering gift-laden Christmas tree, playing with her two older brothers, sitting on her smiling parent’s laps, and showing off her shiny new tricycle. Rachel looked very happy. These albums came by mail once a year from Rachel’s adoptive parents, and Maxee’s mom would look through them and then stick them high on a shelf. They never talked much about Rachel. That afternoon, Maxee felt a sudden longing for this sister she had never seen, so she slipped one of the photos out of the very back of the book and quietly took it to her room.
She didn’t mention seeing the pictures to anyone, but that night before she went to sleep, she began a secret bedtime ritual. “’Night-night, Rachel,” she whispered, kissing the picture and sticking it under her pillow. As she slept she dreamt that she and her sister were swinging in a park, their hair flying, eyes shining, voices singing. It was a sunny day, and they jumped off the swings and began running through the grass, giggling. However, when Maxee reached out to grasp Rachel’s hand, her sister disappeared. Maxee began to look for her, calling and crying. She woke up with her cheeks wet, and ever after referred to Rachel privately as her “Dream Sister.”
During the elementary school years, Rachel became Maxee’s closest confidant and playmate, invisible and unknown to everyone but Maxee. They played “house” together under the maple tree in the back yard. “I’ll be the Mommy, and you be my little girl.” Maxee, as big sister, read books like “Winnie the Pooh,” aloud to her. They shared secrets, such as what Maxee bought Stockton for his birthday or which boy she thought was cute in her class. Rachel was always there for her, listening, laughing, understanding. Maxee loved her like she loved no one else—except maybe Grandma. Every time the annual album came, Maxee looked at it eagerly and slipped out a new photo if she was able.
When Maxee entered her turbulent teen years, her Dream Sister stopped going everywhere with her, but she still kept Rachel’s pictures in a box in her closet and thought of her often. As time passed, Maxee followed her mother’s muddy footsteps into unhealthy relationships with too many boys. At fifteen she began drinking at parties and even tried drugs a couple times. She started skipping school and flunked most of her sophomore subjects. No one seemed to understand her inner torment, not even Rachel. In fact, Maxee found herself resenting her Dream Sister and told her so. “Why do you have the fancy home, the week at horse camp, trips to Mexico, and a TV in your bedroom? It’s not fair! I’m the oldest! Why couldn’t Mom have adopted me out, too? I bet I’d be happier now!”
She glanced at her watch as she sipped her Coke. In five minutes, Rachel would be here, and they would have lunch together for the first time. All the old longing to share with her Dream Sister came rushing back. “What will you be like? Can I trust you with my secrets again?”
Minutes later, Maxee looked up as the flesh-and-blood embodiment of her Dream Sister came through the door. A smiling Rachel walked over and gave her a warm hug, exclaiming, “You don’t know how long I have dreamt of this moment!”
At those words, gentle healing began in Maxee’s heart.
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