My Sister's Keeper

I dread sleep. It should provide me with rest and recuperation. It does not. Instead I'm assaulted with images I wish not to see. I would say the nightmares are memories, but memories are events that have happened. Memories aren't corrupted images that have been twisted into torture devices. My nightmares are. Almost every night I see mother. Her corpse writhes its way out of the coffin her wrecked car became. She stares at me through layers of blood and twisted bone. Her torn lips move, but I don't hear her words. What is she trying to say? I look around at the dark emptiness of the highway. It's only us and there's nowhere for me to run. She steps forward. Her mangled limbs awkwardly hobbling in my direction. I shudder. Still she tries to speak to me and still I don't hear a word. As she nears me her car explodes into a fiery ball of hot steel. I see the fear in her eye as the flames engulf her. Though petrified I try to reach out to her, but it's too late. She disappears into the inferno. A ringing forms in my head that grows in intensity and pitch. It's like my head wants to explode.

My eyes fly open as my own screams echo in my ears. Tears and sweat run down my face as I struggle against my covers as if they hold me prisoner. That's when I feel her arms around me. Fiona. She holds me in place as I struggle against her. It's now that I realize I'm awake again. I break down. I can hardly breathe through the torrent of sobs that escape my body. She comforts me.

Fiona: It's okay Fallon. I'm here.

She gently runs her fingers through my hair. I close my eyes and cry against her shoulder.

Fiona: Shhhh...It's okay.

She rocks me lightly. It takes me a bit to collect myself. How many nights has she had to lose sleep to come in an take care of me? In almost all other aspects of our relationship I take care of my younger sister. That's how it's supposed to be. I hate that she has to take care of me like this so often. We lay down. My vulnerability continues to have the best of me. Before falling back to sleep I manage to force out quiet words.

Fallon: Fiona...thank you...


The next morning we go to the shooting range. As always I bring my .45 and she brings her two 9mms. Though we continue to improve, we're not really here to become marksmen. It's really not about guns at all. This is therapy. We never talk about Mom's death. We were young when it happened, but it's affected us both deeply. Me, I have the nightmares and always feel a sadness I can't place in the back of my mind. I often feel like I'm not whole. Like a piece of me has broken and can't be fixed. Fiona, well she develped in a very different direction. She's angry. She's angry at Mom for dying. She's angry at Dad for never being around. She's angry she could never do anything about any of it. It's always with her. As if she's always boiling beneath the surface, just waiting to release the pressure. It's made her reckless. She acts like she doesn't care about anything, but underneath I think she feels more than anyone.

Since we never talk about anything the shooting range is the next best thing. We ease our pain with each pull of the trigger. The singular movement of our fingers being more therapeutic than any session with a shrink. Maybe that's why I'm always exhausted and invigorated after we go. That's a paradox, I know. I take one shot at a time after careful aim. She immediately empties the clip of both 9mms as quickly as possible. After a half hour we take a break and sit down. Staring out at the range I take a sip of my tea.

Fiona: Fal...Do you...nevermind.

I look over at her. Her expression is serious, but almost nervous. She looks at the ground. I rest my hand on her shoulder. I know what she's thinking about. The same thing we both think about when we come here. This is the closest we ever come to talking about Mom. She relaxes some to my touch. We won't be saying anything more on the topic. I already know that. Good talk Fi.

Fallon: Let's go home.

We pack up our stuff and hop in my car. I'm glad she rides with me to the range. I hate her on that motorcycle of hers. She's crashed it twice before. The last time was the scariest. She came through it mostly unharmed both times...mostly. I mean the last time she was like one giant, scraped bruise. It was so bad half her body looked like a somewhat mutilated smurf. The range is about a half hour from the house. We typically spend the first ten minutes in silence. After that we get back to normal. Well, normal for us.

Fallon: Hey, maybe when we do our team finisher you could give me a little time to get out of the way. I don't need you landing on me.

She snorts and replies without even thinking about it.

Fiona: Hey, maybe you can shut up. It's not my fault you take forever.

Take forever? I barely have my move completed before she's leaped off without a thought to the consequences. It's going to get real old having to jump out of the way so that she doesn't land on me along with our opponent.

Fallon: Just have some consideration for me. Is that so much to ask for?

Fiona: Yep.

She's so frustrating sometimes. Does she have to be combative about almost everything? A conversation doesn't have to be a battleground. She often thinks it does though. She likes to argue.

Fallon: Just cut the crap. Well, other than that, what do you think? We're finally on the path to our goals.

Giving me an odd look she's quick to reply as always.

Fiona: What goals? We're wrestling. We went to school for it. Now we're doing it. Why complicate it further than that?

A sigh escapes my lips. I think about her words for a moment.

Fallon: Fair enough.

We deserve to have one thing in our life be uncomplicated. It's a complex world. We could do with a little simplicity.