Whenever I catch up with friends, we always end up chewing over the same old topics: how our dream jobs gave way to marking time till retirement; how those gorgeous hunks we lost our hearts to matured into middle-aged bores; how our angelic children transmogrified into grunting adolescents. Once we've dealt with those old chestnuts we'll move on to analysing, depending on the season, Desperate Housewives or Celebrity Big Brother. And finally, they might ask about my sister.
So how's she doing these days?
She's doing fine. Helluva thing to come to terms with.
She's happy enough.
What was it again?
What she must have gone through. Puts all our grumbles in perspective.
You could say that.
Well, pass on my regards when you see her next.
So how's she doing these days?
"Why don't you go round?" says my mother. "You could see for yourself."
I don't exactly tell mum I won't go. I tell her about the latest reorganization at work; four middle managers having to reapply for three posts. I tell her I'm thinking of asking my GP to put me on HRT. I tell her about the endless negotiations with the builders about the loft conversion, and the dust that finds its way into the unlikeliest corners.
"You should see what your sister's had done to her place. The kitchen units are about a foot lower than normal so she can do the washing up from her wheelchair."
My husband and I had this fantasy of creating a teenage den in the loft, sealing off all the noise and hormones from the rest of the house, and what we've got is builder's dust in the salt cellar.
"You can't be too busy to drive ten miles," says my mother. "It's not like it's the other end of the country."
"You didn't even send her a Get Well card."
Selfish cow, me.
She's doing fine.
Or so my mother tells me. But she's always been one to find the silver lining where Emily's concerned. "You should be pleased for her."
I search and search for a part of me that can be pleased for my sister. It should be in me somewhere. Even if it's not where I want it, like dust in the salt cellar. She's living her own life: I must be pleased.
"At least it's put an end to all that waiting. All that fighting. She's happy now."
I believe in empowerment. I believe in a woman's right to choose. Lots of us are going in for cosmetic surgery these days. Lots of us are dissatisfied with our bodies. Who wouldn't fix ourselves if we got the chance?
"I hate to say this," says my mother, "but you've always been jealous of your little sister."
Helluva thing to come to terms with.
Or maybe not. Not if it's what you've always wanted. "You know what Emily told me last week? She said, I used to feel like I was trapped in the wrong body. Now I feel complete."
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“The Artist On The Spanish Hall’s Republican Activities In Monterey, California ,1937”:
by Aurelia Lorca
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