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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Family Reunion (06/05/08)

TITLE: Silent Sister
By Sara Harricharan


The house was brightly decorated, but Mum said I was dressed for a funeral. It was just a welcome home party, but I couldn’t make her understand that I had nothing to wear.

“Wear something brighter-something red, now hurry!” Mum hustled me up the stairs.

I squeezed into a red, glittery thing. It was too short and too bright, making my combat boots stand out more. The boots would have to do. My feet were too big to fit into anything else.

Mum, would you take me shopping someday? Maybe when you take Kayla and the others? I pushed the thought away as I wrestled my hair into a ponytail. I couldn’t see why everyone was making such a fuss.

It was only a little family thing for Ken. Uncle Lenny had gone to the airport to pick him up, along with a few friends. Something pulled into the driveway as I frowned at my reflection.

I guess when you’re a hotshot computer programmer; you have lots of friends with red sports cars and Ralph Lauren polo shirts. That’s what’s coming behind Uncle Lenny’s Subaru.

Somehow, I still see Ken as the curly-headed statue that took time to drive me to therapy and back. He never really said much, but we got along all right. I’ve missed him so much these past months. I almost wished his job hadn’t taken him so far away.

“Cleo!” Mum’s frustrated face is the exact opposite of her exquisite French hairstyle. “They’re here, stop changing outfits and get down here!”

I reached the living room as noise spilled through the front door. Laughter and squeals of delight came from my younger siblings as they pounced on shiny packages.

He’s your brother! I wanted to scream. You’re supposed to be happy to see him, not piles of presents!

But I couldn’t get near him.

Between his friends and the younger ones, I was always on the edge of the boisterous crowd. It must’ve been fun, but-I can’t say for certain, because I was never asked to join.

Introductions blurred between fruit punch and Playstation games. Mum kept me in the kitchen to help fill the snack trays.

I didn’t complain. Ken has a big appetite.

Mum finally let me sit in the corner to watch the board game competitions. Ken won nearly all of them. I celebrated each win with a bite of caramel brownie, washed down with more fruit punch.

He’s the best, you know. I wanted to tell them. He trounced me every time we played chess, checkers and dominoes. He was that good.

Midnight came quicker than I wanted. Mum told me to go to bed.

I didn’t want to, I wasn’t tired. I waited all day for Ken.

But Mum made such a fuss that Father ordered me upstairs.

I went ... to cry in the safe darkness of my bedroom.

Waves of laughter floated up the stairs, in tandem with the changing numbers of my bedside clock. Time ticked torturously away as I curled up on my desk chair, to watch it fly away.

A soft knock on the door forced my brain to reboot.

Ken stuck his head through the door. “Cleo? Where’s your nightlight?” He stepped into the room and reached for my fairy nightlight. He plugged it in near my desk and waited.

I came to enough of my senses to smile.

“I’m sorry they made you leave, they just don’t understand you, that’s all.”

I rolled my eyes.

Ken laughed. “Okay, they understand you, but sometimes they forget that you can hear them because you can’t answer back.” He dangled a silver horseshoe necklace in front of me. “Happy sweet sixteenth, I’m sorry I missed it. What kind of cake did you have?”

My hands began to move in the shapes and forms for my method of communication.

“Whoa! Hold up there, sis.” Ken whipped out a pad and pencil. “I’m a little rusty on the sign language.”

I gave him a look, but began writing. He stood over my shoulder as I wrote, chuckling occasionally as I let him in on every event of my life since he’d left.

I finished with a verse, my welcome gift to him.

Your name means ‘born of fire’
But you’re more than that to me.
Ken, you’re a jewel of a brother,
May all your dreams come true.

“You’re a gem of a sister, Cleo.” Ken cracked a lopsided grin. “I’m glad to be back.”

Copyright 2008

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This article has been read 1244 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 06/12/08
My heart went out to Cleo because her family seemed to leave her out because she was hearing impaired. Toward the middle I wondered why you didn't use more dialog, then it made perfect sense once I realized she was handicapped. I like that she wrote a poem/verse for her brother. Nice writing with this.
LaNaye Perkins06/16/08
This one ranks up in the top of the list for me this week. I really liked this and thought you did a great job giving Cleo a voice. Great writing my friend.
Chely Roach06/16/08
This was wonderful...I loved it (sniff, sniff). Well done!
Jan Ackerson 06/16/08
So poignant and sad!

I'm very curious what her disability is, since she's not deaf---why can't she talk? Since whatever is affecting her is probably an unusual or rare condition, I'd love to know what it is.

I love the relationship between the sister and older brother...wery well-written.
Mariane Holbrook 06/16/08
This is an extraordinarily good piece. Maybe a Kleenex advisory would have been good for the reader? **smile** Nice job!!
Karen Wilber06/16/08
You had me wondering the whole time what was up with the sister--should have figured something out from the title clue. I could really feel the special bond of love between Ken and Cleo.
Dee Yoder 06/17/08
Great characters and mood setting! I was also wondering what the trouble with the sister and why all of the family was treating her "differently". Very sympathetic and touching character!
Colin Swann06/17/08
Great Job -Silent sister though!!!!
Debbie Wistrom06/17/08
Great take on topic and I love your MC and her brother who is the most natural person in her family. Great message too.
Norma-Anne Hough06/17/08
What an awesome story. I have tears in my eyes and heart. Truly beautiful.
Joanne Sher 06/17/08
Wonderful character development and interior monologue. I could feel her struggle and frustration so clearly :)
Lyn Churchyard06/17/08
Great job with the emotions and descriptions. I particularly liked Waves of laughter floated up the stairs, in tandem with the changing numbers of my bedside clock. I felt so sorry for Cleo, but I'm glad she has a nice brother like Ken. Well done Sara :- )
Holly Westefeld06/18/08
You paint a beautiful picture of the relationship between Cleo and Ken, as well as the starkly sad interactions with the rest of the family. You hint at so much history that there could probably be several stories from this one--whether the therapy was psychological or physical--what brought about Cleo's silence--why Ken is the only one who has accepted her...
Beckie Stewart06/18/08
Awww, this was sad, but how awesome to have a big brother that noticed, loved and accepted. Great story.
Catrina Bradley 06/18/08
You had me in suspense all the way through wondering what was wrong with this sister. How sad for her! But how wonderful that she has a brother like Ken. Great writing, and a great story.
Joshua Janoski06/18/08
I was holding back tears at the end. Beautiful story! I really like how you fleshed out Cleo's thoughts and feelings towards her brother, and I was so happy that Ken paid her a visit before she fell asleep. This is one of my favorites this week.
Joshua Janoski06/19/08
First place and an EC! You are so deserving of it this week. Congratulations! :)
Aaron Morrow06/19/08
Congratulations Sara! Outstanding work!!!
LauraLee Shaw06/19/08
Congratulations, Sweet Sister!!!! So glad this one did not remain silent. Soooooooooooooooooo happy for you, I'm doing flips (In my heart and mind anyway).
Lyn Churchyard06/19/08
Congratulations Sara, 1st Place and an EC. Well done! :- )
Beckie Stewart06/19/08
I knew this was a winner when I read it. Congratulations!
Patricia Turner06/19/08
Sara, thank you for the touching look into the silent world of this MC. Now I'm in tears and have to get back to my job. :-) Congratulations on the WELL deserved win and EC!
Genia Gilbert06/19/08
Very beautiful! Congratulations, and I agree that it deserves both awards.

Beth LaBuff 06/19/08
Yay!!! Super congrats sweet Sawa!!
Glynis Becker06/19/08
Beautiful story. I love the all the emotions--hurt and lonliness and finally, love. Great story and congratulations on the win!
Seema Bagai 06/21/08
Excellent writing and vivid descriptions. Congrats!
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/21/08
Congratulations for your win for this wonderful story. I'm so proud of you!
Peter Stone06/22/08
Congrats on placing with this moving story. I felt so sorry for the girl, not knowing why she was different, and then the ending fitted all the pieces of the puzzle together.
Allan Morelos06/24/08
Congratulations for being first place in your level and the EC, too!

We, newbies, can learn a lot from you. You're not only a great writer. You're so generous, encouraging and helpful in your comments. In time, we, newbies,will be better writers just like you!

I'm one of your fans and I enjoy your stories and learn something insightful in each of them. Thanks for modeling well.
Rhonda Smith06/25/08
Amazing! I loved it!