By Sheree McDonald
I was reaching for my last cigarette when I caught a glimpse of the flashing blue lights in my rearview mirror.
With a heavy sigh, I let the unlit cigarette fall to the ashtray where remnants of my habit clustered.
A few moments later, the rim of a state trooper hat was blocking the sunlight from my face.
“License and registration, ma’am,” the trooper barked. I definitely wasn’t getting out of this one.
“You got any idea how fast you were going back there?” Luckily, he didn’t care what I had to say because immediately he answered that question for me.
“98! You know how many times I have had to scrape kids off of this very freeway for doing what you were doing back there?”
As I reached for the glove compartment to retrieve the documentation, the trooper continued on.
“…..God damned near 100 miles per hour.”
When I opened the compartment, my entire life came crashing out of it. Old receipts, empty pack of Marlboro Lights and a half eaten carton of McDonald’s fries scatted all over my floorboard. As I fumbled through the disaster of papers, a piece of yellow notebook paper made me catch my breath.
I knew exactly what it was before I opened the crumpled letter. I had meant to mail it months ago, but never seemed to find the time; now it was too late.
The letter read:
Look, I’m sorry for all the shit that happened during Thanksgiving. I know that coming home for you is a really big deal, and I was a total ass for what I did. I have been thinking a lot about what you said and you are right. I really do need to grow up and get my shit together. I really do love you and I know I never say it, but I am really proud of you for what you are doing. We’ll get into fights and we’ll say things we don’t mean, but no matter what we’ll always be sisters. I love you Jules, always have and always will.
Your kid sis,
Seeing those words, my eyes filled up with tears and my mind raced back eight months ago to Thanksgiving day. I had just turned 21 three weeks earlier and I had spent every single night getting totally hammered. My mother called me that afternoon, and of course I was still sleeping off the night before.
“Kristen, you know that Julie is coming home today. Who knows when we’ll see her again. You know how those tours overseas are. Please be here. Please do not make a scene.”
I knew what she meant by “making a scene.” Four days ago I had showed up hung over and smelling like take-out and vodka to my cousin’s baby shower. Nobody was impressed.
I slung the covers back and got out of bed. I rummaged around for some jeans I was sure were dirty and threw on an old sweater. I took a quick shot before leaving my apartment. I felt like shit and I needed something to take the edge off.
As I pulled into my mother’s driveway, Julie’s car was already there. I pulled up quickly, too quickly. With a jerk and a loud crash, I came to a halt. When I looked up I realized I had totally smashed in Julie’s bumper.
Julie came running out of the house. My mother followed behind her.
Julie took one disgusted look at me and threw open my car door.
“What the hell Kristen? You smell like a bar. Do you have any idea how much this is going to cost me? At least 300 bucks!”
I sat in a drunken stupor, but she continued on.
“Really Kristen, you need to grow up. You’re going to pay for this one way or another. That is a promise.”
She stomped back into the house and I drove home. Who was she to tell me how to live my life?
Two weeks later I wrote her this letter. I knew she was right. I knew I was out of control. I needed to tell her I was sorry. A few days later, we got the call that Julie had died in a bombing just outside of Afghanistan.
The booming sound of the trooper’s voice jolted me back to the present.
“Here is your ticket. Have a great day, “ he said with perfect smugness.
I looked down at the ticket. $300.00
Touché, big sister, touché.
Category: Short Story, Uncategorized