A coyote howled outside, or it could have just been the wind, either way it didn’t affect me in any way. I laid there on my side upon the red carpet, my fingers running through the carpet fibers. They left a trail in their wake as I dragged them back and forth, as I do this my ring catches on the carpet. I tug it and the ring tears from the now longer piece of thread, I look around seeing if anyone notices and push the strand into the carpet. No one is ever paying attention to me. I begin to fiddle with my ring. It’s a simple, dainty gold ring that has two hearts, one small and one big, on either side leaving an opening between then. My sister said it was adjustable and the metal could be pushed apart to make it bigger if it didn’t fit when she gave it to me this morning. Soft chatter filled the room around me as my family talk softly, catching up with the lives of my aunts and uncles. I look up at the sound of my Aunt’s shrill laugh and see only her jaw line as she tips her head back in amusement. My eyes wander to the glass slide door that’s mostly hidden by a dark long curtain and I catch a glimpse of the snow building up against the glass. The top layer of snow dances around in circles almost like fairies in the wind. The snow looks so nice and peaceful, and sparkling and white that I almost jump up from my spot on the carpet and leave behind the monotonous talk of the. But then I feel the heat once again reaching my lower back and bum from the fire place behind me and I sink back into the red soft carpet. I feel my head becoming heavier as it rests on the palm of my hand and it smushes my face more than when my Aunt Kathy does when she mashes my cheeks together calling me adorable.
My eyes land on the Christmas tree in the corner near the door– that my Uncle will most likely take down after today– and I let my eyes go in and out of focus, the twinkling lights becoming blurry splotches. I catch a glimpse of movement next to the tree and focus on the dark figure coming towards me and I realize it’s my sister. Brooke sits down on the floor with me near the fire. I glance at her over my shoulder still positioned on my side away from the fire. My arm gets heavy from holding my head up and just when I am about to roll on to my back to talk to her, she leans back on to me and rests her arm on my side placing some of her weight on me. I’m so surprised at the physical contact that I find myself holding my breath. But Brooke touching me randomly and giving me physical affection is so rare that I don’t dare move and break the spell. I hear her laugh at something my Uncle said but everything is blurring together and all I can focus on is not moving and my tingling hand. I feel pins and needles poking my hand and it becomes rather uncomfortable. I lift my head from my arm and move my wrist in a circle trying to get feeling back into my hand. The spell broke, my sister moves, lifting herself off of me, releasing me and gets up moving towards the kitchen. My heart drops. I roll back onto my back, and air escapes me in a heavy sigh. I move my wrist in the direction of the fan rotating above me, my gold bracelet jingling as I do so, but smile at the affection my sister just showed through a smile touch. I guess physical touch really is my love language.
My dad calls to my mom to keep lowering the anchor from the front of the boat, his back to us as he peers dangerously over the edge. I see my mom press the downwards arrow and hear in command the sound of metal on metal clicking as chains shift below deck. My dad briefly turns around holding up a hand palm first signaling my mom to stop. He then gives her a thumbs up and walks back to us. The late August heat that has been threatening to melt us all is slightly cooled by the sweet breeze that drifts by us periodically. The boat rocks softly from side to side a little and I glance backs to see my brother whipping off his shirt, and my sister shucking off her shorts revealing a black bikini. She smiles at me and mentions something about going to land which is around ten yards away from the boat in shallow water. I hear a splash and glance over to see my older brother popping out of the water and then shaking his head like a dog and grins. I pull out the book from behind my back that I had kept there for safety against the water on the ride over. I glance up as I see my older sister appear in front of me with an almost annoyed expression on her face, not that that’s new. She beginnings tugging on my arm in mentions to come swim to shore with her. I say no and she fake pouts, which is so unlike her for she rarely swims, or childishly pouts for that matter. I’m the child in this family, a thirteen-year-old but the fact that she’s asking for my attention is enough to cause me to turn to her in my seat and put my book down. Brooke begins telling me that I should at least take my clothes off and tan as I read, and she places her arm besides my left arm comparing the already tan skin of her arm to my pale-ish arm. “See you’re so pal it’s almost sad,” she says. I actually agree with her on that, and it bums me out once again. It’s not only the tan of her skin that I find myself comparing to her, but rather most things. My mom is always telling me that comparing myself to others is basically a sin, yet when I take my shirt off revealing my emerald bikini and my very pale stomach, I notice a sad roll frowning at me as I look down at my figure sitting down. My arms cover my stomach and my thumb twists my ring around and around as sadness grows. I shake my head then and I grab my book besides me once again before glancing back up at the retreating form of my sister confidently swimming a shore. There was my chance and now it’s gone.
My legs swing back and forth in an almost childlike gesture as I sit on the edge of the dock looking at the dark harbor water below me. Everything around me is a very pretty blue and even though I set out here to escape I feel rather mellow. The longer I sit out here surrounded by darkness and my thoughts, the more stars begin popping out against the darkening backdrop. Suddenly appearing as if they weren’t always there just millions and millions of miles away. A brisk wind blows over me and goosebumps appear on my tan legs. It is quite chilly outside for the middle of summer, yet I continue to sit out here on the white boarded wood of the dock watching the water dance below me. Fortunately, I grabbed a sweatshirt on my way out, yet sitting here I notice the words Brooke scripted on my left outer arm reminding me of what she said.
The longer I sit out here the more I see how pathetic I am. My pride stopping me from going back into my warm home and facing my family. It would show them that everything was okay and that I set out like a toddler and made a tantrum as if I was in the terrible twos and not the sixteen-year-old I am. I know that secretly I am sitting out here hoping someone will come and find me and beg me to come inside. Or better yet that my sister will come and find me and apologies. Looking back, I cannot remember ever talking about what she said after this night. I remember ripping off my ring that I had almost never taken off, unless to show others the tan line it had created, and then almost throwing it into the water. But I didn’t.
I heard footsteps then, and I can remember how my heart started beating faster. The person stood there behind me not speaking for a couple heartbeats and then sat beside me. I didn’t need to look over to see that it was Brooke, I could just tell. I continued looking out at the black water in front of me and at the spot light that had turn on at a timer. I could feel the small ring digging into my palm as I watched the minnows swimming just below the surface of the water. Swimming back and forth.
She took a deep breath before she said anything and when she did speak it was barely above a whisper. “You know your hair has gotten so long, it grows so fast. Much faster than mine.” I look up at her then, but I can’t remember what I was feeling. Not anger that she didn’t immediately apologize like I thought she would, not sadness. But I remember looking at her, her eyes looking dark almost haunted and she looked sad. Her chin wobbled, and I felt surprise, for she never cried. I saw a tear run down her and I watched as it ran into her nose. A splash of water sounded below us and we both glanced at it. I felt a warm, yet icy wetness hit my face as I blinked out a tear. Suddenly, I felt Brooke’s pinky fumble until it wrapped around mine, it was the hand that was holding the ring. We sat there for a while in silence until all the stars came out to glitter against the dark sky and until our shivers became too much to ignore. She pulled me up and as we walked up the stone path towards my home, I slowly slipped the ring back on my finger.