real life

A younger sister's love letter to older sister she's adored since day one.

It was a love affair from the very first day.

 

By ERIN COOK

We grew up together, you and I. I was born into a world that you had taken by storm. As a natural over-achiever, you had already sung, danced and shimmied your way through your toddler years. Now, you had a wide-eyed younger sister to follow you around and call ‘shotgun’ on your favorite stuff. It was a love affair from the very first day.

It didn’t take long for you to claim me as your own. Mum chuckled as you pushed me around in your miniature pram. You had replaced your dolls with the infant that was tottering around the house. The age gap between us meant that I couldn’t join in, but I was just happy to be a prop in your game.

As we grew older, I began to participate at playtime. Instead of sitting in the pram, I ran along beside you. We became ballerinas and you shared your costumes with me. I never went without as long as you were around. The living room was transformed by routine performances of Swan Lake with our parents as the only audience members. Without a care in the world or an inch of dance training, we threw our limbs around until we collapsed into stitches of laughter.

The years flew by and before I knew it, you were starting high school. You wore a tartan dress, panama hat and pulled your socks up high. When you boarded the high school bus, I was consumed by jealousy and admiration. The bus full of teenagers in preppy, private school uniforms was like nothing I had seen before. Everyone at my school wore a polo shirt and footy shorts. Were you on your way to Summer Bay? Or was it Ramsay Street? All I knew is that I wanted to go with you.

Over the next few months, something started to change. My friendship status was downgraded. You weren’t interested in me anymore but I still persevered. I had so many questions about your new life. Who were your new friends? What did you talk about? Were there any boys? What books were you reading? You didn’t notice that I was always right behind you, waiting for a backwards glance and an opportunity to be part of your life.

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“My friendship status was downgraded”

By the time it was my turn to board the same bus, your eyes were fixed straight ahead. They were fixed so firmly that you barely acknowledged me in the school hallways. I walked alone in a swarm of strangers, hoping to somehow catch your attention. I wanted to make you like me again but I didn’t know how. With the benefit of hindsight and a little maturity, I realise that being a teenager isn’t easy. The pressure to look good, dress well and ace exams can be overwhelming. You were trying to fit in at a school where girls had a reputation for being cruel. I just wish you knew that I was always there, right behind you.

I started university and we began to get to know each other again. I hoped that you’d like the person I had become. We’d meet for coffee and speak to each other like second cousins at a family reunion. I asked all the right questions and you answered with the kind of correctness that is usually reserved for politicians. Despite a slow start, our relationship began to blossom again. I tried to impress you with jokes while admiring your kind nature. A self-conscious generosity shone through your bright blue eyes.

Yet, with every friendship comes the inevitability of disagreement. We moved in together and it became clear that domesticated life wasn’t for us. Without notice, your walls flew up at lightning speed and once again, I was shut out. I was right beside you but you’d stopped admiring the scenery. Something must have caught your eyes in the distance again.

We grew up together, you and I. Yet, the test of time hasn’t ruled in our favour.

We’re older now; I’m 21 and you’re going on 26, but you still keep forgetting to look behind you.

Erin is a 21-year-old student with a passion for the written word.