A/N- So this is the new one. A relatively short (9-10 chaps) look at the relationship between sisters. Please please please let me know what you think!
Special thanks as always to sah who not only saves me (and you) from my awful grammar, but keeps my butt in line.
"And then she had the nerve to get angry at me for wanting to go home," Emma drones. I click my tongue confirming her disbelief, but keep my eyes glued to the computer screen in front of me.
It's a morning ritual of ours. Most mornings, while she drives into work, my sister calls to update me on the rolling drama that is her life. Everything is exaggerated and made to seem like catastrophic events, rather than the simple comings and goings of the people in her life. And most mornings I enjoy it. It's a mindless, entertaining way to start my day. A mild distraction from the tedium of opening my shop.
"Bella! Are you even listening? I can hear you typing," she whines playfully. My hands ease away from the keys and I lean back in my chair. This is my role. As the older sister, I listen and comment, always in her favor, and then act happy to report that there is nothing of any significance going on in my life.
And it's the truth. My life couldn't be further from the drama and glamour that surrounds Emma. As a junior editor for a fashion magazine, her life is all fashion shows and deadlines. While the most dramatic thing that happens in my job are the floral deliveries every Monday and Wednesday.
I sound put out, like I envy her, and I do, to a small extent. But, her life would swallow me whole. Emma was always more inclined to leap before looking, never worrying about what could happen in the future. While my life is an exercise in control.
People smile politely when I tell them what I do. A shop owner is such a small feat. Hardly even worthy of the business degree from the state college hanging over my dad's desk. But when you talk about Em, Em and her Ivy League education and high profile job, people's eyes light up. They want to know details. Hear about the celebrities she's met, the cities she's traveled to.
"Of course I'm listening Em, I just have to get these invoices in before I can open," I reply easily.
"Such a workaholic. What happened to that girl you hired to help you out? Can't she do that?" she asks. There's no point in trying to explain to her that the high school girl I hired can only help after school, or that I can't really afford to have someone, other than me, here most days.
"It's fine. So what's going on with you and Steven?" I ask, changing the subject. I chew on the inside of my cheek as I wait for the answer.
"He's done. I never thought it would last to begin with. I mean, he's still in his undergrad," she answers tersely. I roll my eyes at her answer. She says that like she didn't graduate just six months ago. The conversations transitions to more causal things, music and movies. I laugh as she details her opinion of the latest Brad Pitt movie.
"Oh, that reminds me, I met someone who has the same screwy taste in music that you do," she chirps. By this point, I've moved on from the computer, now trying to put together a bouquet for Mrs. Williams. I bite my tongue as she jabs my music.
"Oh yeah? So they 're enlightened as well?" I tease. She laughs and I join in. Despite the differences and the underlying sibling rivalry, she's still my little sister and usually my best friend.
"He actually recognized almost every one on that mix CD you sent me," she offers. I lift my shoulder in an attempt to balance the phone between my collarbone and ear. I hum a response and pluck a few peonies from the table. My attempt to broaden her music horizons beyond the top 40's is a monthly mix CD. Most of which she listens to long enough to comment on the 'unsingablility' of most of the songs.
"I guess he's really into music and all that. Actually, you'd probably really like him," she continues. I murmur another response. It's better when I don't try to interject myself into the conversation. I pluck another flower from the table and wait.
"He's actually taking me to a concert this weekend. Says I'll appreciate the music better live," she chuckles like the notion is ridiculous. My chest clenches in a wave of jealousy. This part of her life is the hardest to listen to. The constant revolving door of men. Like they're pastries.
My dating history reads more like a brief tally than any kind of story. A couple of weeks with a third string soccer player in high school, and a few dates scattered throughout college. A tragic mix of social foot-in-the-mouth-disease, and it just being so much easier to avoid trying.
"Who are you going to see?" I ask. I hope its someone cheesy, that turns off my interest instantly. I wait for her response, mentally begging her to say Britney Spears.
"Cold War Kids. Doesn't it sound emo? I almost said no just based on that name, but he insisted that they're good," she rattles off. I groan internally. Not fair. I almost beg her to get a t-shirt or something I can vicariously live through her with, but resist.
"So he's the new Steven then? Should I know his name?" I ask. Now my interest is peaked. My usual low burn of jealous turned up to a simmer. She laughs. I can hear her entering her office, greeting people as she walks by.
"Don't insult him by comparing him to Steven. Edward is in his final year of law school," she chides. Edward. Doesn't even sound like a name that Emma would go for. She hurries off the phone as usual, caught up in work.
I toss the phone into my purse and flip the open sign on my window. I move around the small shop slowly, savoring the details, trying to console myself. As my hands trail along the organic dish soaps and hand pressed stationary, I feel a little more grounded.
This is the life I chose for myself. No one asked me to go to school close to home. My parents would have extended me the same courtesy as Emma, but I wanted to be close to them. I wanted to be there when Emma was the lead in the school play, to see her off to prom. I wanted to help my mom plant the garden in the Spring, and watch college football in the Fall with my dad.
But when you're young and making those choices, no one ever tells you that it will shape every other piece of your life. No one tells you, that by staying close to home you're keeping strings attached that should be snipped. That the security and comfort your family bring can someday feel more like a lead anchor.
And then it's too late. Then you're 25, and while you have a small successful business and live on your own, you've never really spread your wings. Your empty jars full of 'what-ifs' and 'could-have-beens'.
Slowly the customers stream in. Charlotte and her mother on their walk to school. Mrs. Williams picking up her arrangement. These are the characters in my life. The people who play repeating roles. I find joy in sneaking Charlotte a stray flower to put in her backpack and listening to Mrs. Williams tell me how someday she'll set me up with her grandson.
I let them distract me from my fruitless self-pity. For a while, I forget about my sister and her new interest. I can't even bring myself to think of it as more. When the morning business trails off, my mind wanders back to him. Edward. His name rolls around in my mind, trying to collect an image to go along with it.
For some reason, the only thing that appears are lips. Soft and red, slightly lifted in a smile. And a fleeting idea of hands, long fingers and pale skin. I shake even that meager image from my thoughts. Usually Emma's romantic leads are slightly cheesy, and always blonde. But just the idea of Edward with those qualities doesn't work.
"Where's you mind at Ms. Bella?" I shake my head to see Jessica, my high school helper, standing in front of me. I smile at her and thwart off her questions. As she takes over the front of the shop, I wander to the back and lose myself in flowers.
I slide ear buds into my ears and carefully avoid Cold War Kids. The music flows over me, and I revel in the thoughtlessness it provides me. I love my shop, but music is my passion. Not being gifted to create my own, I indulge in other people's gifts. The best part of my days are getting lost in lyrics and feeling my heart race along with a drumbeat.
My phone buzzes in the corner and I hear the noise between songs. I reach for it and smile.
'Your type is already turning out better than my usual choices. Edward sent me a cupcake dessert for lunch:)'
Just when I had banished the hypothetical Edward to the back of my mind, the lips and hands rush forward again. I growl internally and delete the message without a reply. I might get hell about that later, but it's better that way.
My finger twirls around the face of my iPod, turning up the volume. He's just another one of Emma's many. I'll just avoid him in conversation as much as possible, and then he'll be gone like all the others.
The music crowds out all other thought until Jessica taps me on my shoulder. I jump and hold an open palm over my heart, feeling the stuttering rhythm. I tug on the left bud, letting the real world back in.
"I closed the register down and your phone has been ringing for the last half hour," Jessica lists. I nod my head and thank her. I walk her to the door and lock it behind her. The setting sun hits my eyes, and I squint it back. The shop glows with evening light and I almost loose myself in the moment, until my phone rings again.
I smile as Queen fills the room. The beginning strains of Bohemian Rhapsody announcing my parents call.
"Momma," I breathe as I answer.
"Oh Bella baby, I'm so sorry to bother you, but your father said that if I broke my printer one more time he would take it away, and you know how I love to print off recipes," she rambles. I chuckle. Emma got her energy and dramatics from my mother. Like most of her traits. My mother's wavy hair, her delicate features, her tiny build. I, on the other hand, was blessed to be my father's daughter.
In so many ways, it's not a bad thing. My even temperament, my sarcastic sense of humor, even the deep brown of my eyes, but in other ways, it's not as pleasing. The girly things that came so easily to Emma, were not as natural to me.
When in grade school, Emma wore my mother's old cheer uniform for Halloween, while I wore a sheet as a ghost. Even then, I knew the difference between her tiny figure and mine. That wasn't saying that I didn't get pieces of my mother. We shared the same lips and variations on a nose.
My hand ghosts down my side with my thoughts. The line smooth, but fuller than I would like. I shake those thoughts from my head. It was a dark road I didn't let myself travel down.
"So you need me to come look at it Momma?" I ask. She sighs heavily.
"Would it be too much trouble baby? I mean, I know you live in the city now, and coming home isn't exactly quick," she offers like she doesn't want me to come. This is a game we play. Her wanting to ask, but not wanting me to feel obligated. Part of her small effort to let me go, to make me cut those strings.
I tell her I'll be there in an hour and turn back to my shop. The dreamlike light is gone now, leaving only the small artificial glow of the lamp on my desk. I pull a deep breath in and fill myself with man made optimism.
Wishful thinking is just that, thoughts. The life I've made is good, even if I do find holes once in a while. I pull my purse onto my shoulder and head out the door. You just have to make the most of what you have.
So? interested? not so much? i want to know what you think...