I answer the phone, Hello? She begins right away, she jumps in before I can catch my breath. This is familiar, her need for me to hear her.
Alison? I didn’t drink for quite some time. And then all of a sudden I did again. That’s when I got my babies taken from me.
I’m not sure where she’s going with this, but I know she's hurting and she needs to defend herself. My upper lip trembles because I am little sister again and also the bad guy, the one who stole her children. I remember the time, I remember the reasons. I skin my knee tripping over her words this morning, all of a sudden I did it again. I'm picking up every scap, every clue, I'm throwing away the cans, emptying the ashtrays, folding the clothes, putting the babies to bed. I'm asking for my parents to hear me, for my friends to help me.
She skips over my voiceless thoughts, like the chalk we drew on damp sidewalks, like our stories washed away in the rain. It's her turn. When she starts, I don't stop her.
I remember the church where she was baptized. I still remember that. And all of a sudden, well anyway, it just happened. I can’t remember now, well, anyway, it happened. I remember that, we were sitting in that bathroom in the church and it meant a lot, you and me talking. We were together then, and it ended up that you were with my children. I’m glad that you were the one because if something ever happened, I wanted to be you and something did happen and it was you. So, I meant it. Well, that’s what I meant. Here it is. Of all the people in the world, I’m so glad that you’re the one with them. I hope you don’t mind. I’m so happy you were with them. Of course I hated it then, that I was so sick inside of me. But pretty soon, it’s going to be your birthday. I remember, do you remember? I drove all the way to, oh gosh, I don't know, I was in Dad's car, and I was like 14 years old. I guess that old, and I took Dad's credit card and took off and went all the way to, all the way to Oklahoma. That was crazy, I just want to say that was crazy.
I wrangle the memories and force them against a wall, into submission. I tie them together and place them on the floor where they can't hurt her, or me. I choke the breath out of them and let them go to the sky. I push away the fact that I am her little sister and I step back into the shoes of her protecter.
That's how they go sometimes, our conversations. That's my sister. My beautiful, damaged, pure, messed up big sister. No one knows her like I do. No one loves me like she does. After all the crazy shit, it's still our truth.