Time left you in the streets

Sent this to my sister after reading some of her old stuff. Kinda like it.

You aren’t what I remembered: the cascading beauty that I always longed for. My memory decided it was better to not know you completely. My memory was right.

I read those words again–the beautiful ones… the ones that were always on the tip of my tongue… never written… except by you. But you stopped and I started where you left off. But. It will never be you. It won’t be as good and as beautiful. It won’t be those short snippets of fireflies and truck bed dates. It’ll just be… me. A little rhetorical. Mostly holding up parallels hoping that someone else might find them interesting. But most will just laugh at the repetition. The apparent desperation for a certain point to be recognized. It’ll never be the words you wrote. It’ll never be the pretty snippets all creatively timed. It’ll just be me. And I imagine you reading “me” and cringing at some of it. I imagine you laughing at other parts. I imagine you crying at most. Because that’s you. And it wouldn’t even have anything to do with how your words form those perfect bits that I just dream of… it would just be the same reaction you always have to me and those same things I write… just the same as how your beautiful snippets inspire a despair in my soul because those snippets were only of despair.

We wrote everything different; you were praised by English teachers, and I was praised by Calculus teachers. I never wanted to step on your toes. And I never do. And I never will.

Sometimes here I think how I’m alright and you’re alright both in our own rights. Right now is irrelevant because this doesn’t even make sense. But, mostly, I look at some of both of ours writing and I think how different it is. How… how different… so you can’t really scale it. But personally. I think you’re way better.

Especially right now. I don’t have much on the side of creativity. I just have lists and facts and a book split into perfect seasons. There’s a main event each season, and, sometime, I’ll invite you to sit and watch, but, mostly, I’m thinking how the random snippets you have are what I wish I could send out.

And there’s that feeling. When your words are read, there’s that cascading. We fall, fall, fall into each new word and sentence and fragment until the sudden stop. But it’s always a perfect stop.

And I know if you read my snippets you’d say the same and you’d say how you hated all your endings or non-endings… but most of all you’d say how you hated that blank page you left on your nightstand when the pen was too heavy and the words wouldn’t come.

I’ll tell you how the words aren’t coming and it is awful and you’ll read the pieces that are full of cliches and laugh how I laughed when I buried them away. And then we’ll grow quiet cause we both know that when we started burying those awful cliche filled snippets we started burying creativity along with it. We started holding out for the right moment, the right feeling, the right words when we know we aren’t supposed to. We know we’re supposed to write everyday and write what you know and write… bird by bird. But we stopped looking out the window at the birds and became too absorbed in the inexpressible, all-consuming (and often irrelevant) emotion behind everything.

So. I imagine us in silence and I imagine all this and our un-had conversations when I put down the drafting pencil for a pen, CADD for Word, and I imagine how I pick up that pen again and I write about the cliche and I write every cliche and I write about the birds and their obvious colors and behaviors that everyone knows and I write the dialogue we’ve all had and I write and write and write, never feeling inspired or creative and I look back towards you… I look back towards you and you have a daughter who’s writing, a son who’s building, and a baby who’s listening… and I see that your heart came alive in a way our words never will and in a way our words never even could.

A Meeting With Time

In Time’s study, I sat looking at her from my armchair. I don’t even remember sitting down there. I was just walking through the woods, working to clear my head. And then I was facing Time. He was sitting under his lamp, bookshelves full behind her. Other than the illuminated book in his lap, it was dim, curtains mostly closed and the woods outside shielding the room from light.

I knew she knew all there was to know about me, but Time was still entirely indifferent to my circumstances. She counted today as irrelevant and probably tomorrow too–really, my whole life. However, I did not find his brashness harsh; I almost took comfort in his indifference that nearly curled his nose while she considered my futile plight.

“Pitiful,” I think I heard her mutter under his breath, but maybe he was just exhaling as he turned a page.
Time found my life meaningless, but, then I noticed, with the same looks of disdain, she held reverence. How he portrayed both of these I simply cannot know or say.

“I envy you,” Time spoke, to clarify the look I saw.
I understand Time’s words as much as I understand how he looked at me with both indignant indifference and reverence.

Time offered no explanation and I imagine did not care if we sat there forever.

“Envy me?” Of course I had to restate this with my disbelief added to the words. Time continued flipping through his empty notebook–I assume it held something I was simply not privy to.

“Yes. You, generally speaking. Humanity.” He did not stop flipping through her book. She also made no indication that she would talk again.

“Why?” I asked after she went through a few more pages, after a few more moments of what felt as though Time was struggling to remain here–her presence remaining tangible, but his soul seeming to disappear into her book itself.

“You experience what I never can.”

At this statement, Time finally stopped flipping through his book and regarded me. He seemed to grow weary the longer her eyes were not on the pages, but, she spoke with less monotony and indifference this time.

“I’m outside of this world. I’m here only as a study of sorts; I am continuously disconnected. I see your world and universe in one field– as you would view a two-dimensional piece of art. But here you are: experiencing a life just as tangible as mine, even if much simpler.”

The indifference returned as her explanation ended. Time began flipping through pages once more. Immersed in whatever the blank pages held, I left Time in his study and continued on my way. I walked out of the woods and arrived at a country road and my car.

I’m still here. Whichever way I look, painted yellow dashes stretch from horizon to horizon.

I’ll always be here. Deciding between right or left, backward or forward.

I know that in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter: I’m one in seven billion; I’m unique like everybody else. I know that between right and left there is no substantiated correct direction. I know this in light of Time itself. I know of all the indifference, the cold, and the bitter in the majority. I know that everyone regards their state in life as their only god; selfishness absorbing every opportunity for love while disdain and jealousy consume.

I know…

But
I saw the reverence too.

Another Beginning

Normally, I’m busy writing when I’m at the beginning of another end. You know, when things are all falling out of place, I suddenly feel the urge to type something true to my heart. Well, right now, everything is going very nicely–other than being broke, but that is momentarily not of consequence.

So, I ditched traveling to fly home to my now fiance, Max. As I was wandering about Iceland, not only did I run out of money and make a few mistakes in life, but I also realized that I did not want to travel anywhere without Max. No view was as stunning as just being near him.

So, I came back. I got a job. And I started overworking in order to pay off some debts. Now, I’m done with that and I have decided to pursue this writing thing more full time. I have no money, but God keeps nagging at me to trust Him in this.

So, I probably should.

Anywho, back to my book, my fiance, and the perfect November air. We’ll see how it goes. 🙂

Iceland notes with no pictures

Moss like veins weaves down the mountain sides with melting glacial snow and freezing volcanic rocks.
If you look closely, you sometimes see a yellow flower… or maybe pink or white.

And then the red rocks loom upon mountain sides.

Now there is only ash: the remains of the eruptions of past days.

Random bits of red rock are uncovered along the roadside, upturned moss covered stones in their midst.

As we weaved in and out of jagged rocks and along green lines, Ewelena’s hand gripping the headrest in front of her, silence overcame us. Even for the seasoned travelers, this was awe-inspiring. We went from rivers to glaciers to red and green stone to volcanoes and ash over the course of two hours until the road drowned in that very same glacier’s  remains. We never lost a step though, each meter back showing us bits of green and black and white that we hadn’t yet noticed.

We arrived back at the field of dark stones and found our way across towards waterfalls and population. I glanced back to see a freckle of blue sky above the hills. All I could think was that this was one place where you didn’t need the sunshine to feel the beauty of this world.

Song Write 1

Guideline: Listen to music and limit self to only writing in a way that relates to the song. So, to get full effect you have to know the songs. It is also timed. Must finish current sentence/topic when song ends.

Wake me up – Avicii
In terms of anxiety

In a pit within your ideas that clouds every movement and judgment
You can almost see the light, but here in this darkness you cannot escape your awful reality
The reality of your fear: the loss, the disappointed glares, every word they could say will never hurt as much as the ones you’ve already engraved upon your soul
You’ll never know that you are lost until the storm subsides
Those faces begin to clear and you can finally see
How it was only just the beginning

Hey Brother – Avicii
In terms of depression

I stopped believing a long time ago, though there are some things that I believe in other than myself
I’ve never had a home, but my bed will endlessly encompass me
The escape of escapes; if only the sky would fall and smother me here too
But it never does
And I could easily give it all for you
But I would never give anything for myself
When everyone outweighs you, self-sacrifice becomes the obvious choice

Levels – Avicii
In terms of desire

We danced in the fountains and throughout every depressive episode my past never went before my eyes, but there, in that stream, my future passed in front of me when you blocked the sun for an instant. I was hoping for so much more and now that I am here, with more than I ever bargained for, I can’t help but start to fear that everything I wanted might just be to near for me to be able to keep you

Thornside – Matt Brouwer
In terms of escape

I kept telling myself that I needed to learn something from all this. I would learn to heal her. I would fix this. I would be the magic glue that they needed, because I can do what He can’t. But this isn’t that story. There isn’t a break in the clouds as long as I’m here on this page, but I’ll tell you when I see that new day in a different chapter. This thorn will never set me free as long as I continue to let it dig under my bones, sucking my marrow dry.

Whatcha Say – Jason Derulo
In terms of betrayal

The roof will never cave in unless we find ourselves in an earthquake, but I swear I prayed for it to when I saw you leave for her. The tragedy I was looking for is always right in front of me, thankfully, it is predominantly the fault of those around me. Unfortunately, I don’t have a say in these things.
You only meant well, and I knew this from the start, but I always wished there was more than good intent. Later on you would see that I deserved so much more than intentions, but I’m still standing on a ledge with an unchecked parachute. It’s brand new and hasn’t been tested even once. I’m feeling rather dumb for trusting it.

Runaway – Ed Sheeran
In terms of home

Home has never been a place I could find, but as I walked out that door there was no surprise. I was no adult nor could I sign any leases, but I needed to run. I never needed to say a thing. He’d know how every word would have fallen and how it would only leave him with more disdain for her sour words and sore heart. Every intention left aches and pains, but they all knew I wouldn’t be back for long. A temporary stay before packing and taking to the road: another trip around the world in a literal sense this time instead of all that metaphorical bullshit.
I love him from the skin to my bones. But I’m looking for something away from him this time.

Drunk – Ed Sheeran

I can believe that the truth will never make you stronger. It is predominantly pain not worth mentioning. I miss your warmth in the cold summer nights when I forget to keep my warmer blankets by my side.
When I drank the entire night away I almost hoped you would appear in my waking dreams, but instead I scratched my wrists until I saw red and wished I could empirically measure the love you held for her against what I feel reaching across the land from the west coast.
Cans collected along the floor of my bedroom, with the music playing in my head causing my body’s submission to a rhythm instead of a knife… and left alone my legs were made to feel like lead for the rest of the week… I’ll never let go of the rhythm if it means seeing you before God’s return.

Dashboard – Modest Mouse

Nowhere is the place that I am always searching for, but it really couldn’t be any worse than this. The radio is only a little distracting when placed within a burning car. I would ignore the burns and the splintering windshield, drumming and swaying and moving to each and every note that I felt within my very soul. I could never let go of the drums, but when anyone appeared I found that I forgot every piece and when they stared I began to break, break, break… Couldn’t keep the drums or the beat or the scene and as each and every piece of me disappeared into the background I recalled how I had placed all my hopes in this one last thing… one last thing that maybe I could do I could feel I could accomplish with everything in my soul because everything in my soul could only ever be shown with how these songs made me feel….. .. how I saw them play out in my mind.

Little Bird – Ed Sheeran

With a broken leg you can still fly as a bird. Well, aren’t you a fool?
Would you stay? And I can’t. I thought it would be simple. I’d always feel that way, but I now know that something in me is broken… I’ve always known this. Broken against my heart… the morning dew will never feel my feet willingly, as the sunrise holds my attention as much as a dream.
It’s late love. Go back to sleep.
Regret. Diving in too soon.
I’ll owe it all to you.
I was so certain within your presence… but maybe I’m just in love when you wake me up… because with each passing week I’m falling into something of a normal pattern of obsession with this or that while the memories of you fall to the wayside…

Wake me up – Ed Sheeran

Maybe I’m just in love when you wake me up. If we got tattoos instead of wedding rings, would I feel as though this is more permanent? Would the commitment suddenly become realistic? I’ll never know… I’ll never know what you see in this basket case that is me, but with every word I write I hope that I’ll see some new books someday… I never really asked for a fairytale ending, but there you were, a knight carrying me to the hospital, staying up with me all night, blowing off finals and scholarships and the world’s definition of success…. Why couldn’t it be that I just breathe to feel you against me… but you still have a train to catch and a week states away……

Maybe I fell in love when you woke me up.

To be Ed Sheeran…

I have now become obsessed with Ed Sheeran. I don’t think it is in an unhealthy way: like, if I met him, I wouldn’t tackle him and try to marry him. I’d just want to be his friend. And see his sword. His two swords. I recently learned that not only did he write that song at the end of the hobbit but pj (Peter Jackson… my sister and me had an UNhealthy obsession with Lord of the Rings, so pj it is) GAVE ED A FUCKING SWORD. That right there is true love. And then. He was appearing at a radio station and they knew about Ed’s sword and that he likes Game of Thrones. AND THEY FUCKING GAVE HIM JON SNOW’S SWORD.

So, I’ve now had the realization for the first time in my life that maybe there are positive things to being a famous person. And now I must become famous so people gift me awesome weapons. Preferably, some katanas. The ones I bought for myself a few years back are broken…

Oh and here’s some citation stuff:

A little something

A poem, a journal, and an unfinished story. Help me finish it, won’t you?

I was thinking about poetry slams
I was thinking about politics and saints
Left to right and front seats
Wishing the window was open
Suffocating with cats and birds

Normally you hear about people reading or seeing or whatevering and being inspired. Well, a lot of times I see or read or whatever and am uninspired. You know, I’ll be browsing the blogosphere one moment and find all this beautiful, full of life, truth, love, whatever stuff, and then I’ll find some article written full of pride, anger, hate, or just stupidity, and I think, “If that can be posted online… then everything I write is probably worse.”

And then other times I’m like, “I’m freakin’ awesome ’cause I write way better than that.” and all my grammar and english skills and everything just end. cause I set lower standards for myself.

So, I decided, that I think I’m going to reread Lord of the Rings. Because that is some good writing there. No idea where I’m going with any of this. I just felt like writing a simple little post after sifting through random stuff on the internet.


So, back to the here and now. I’m gonna force myself to write something somewhat creative, so I can feel a lot better about myself for having at least written something. Ultimate question of the last few months: How long does writer’s block last before you are no longer a writer? I’m not responding to that with some, “Being a writer is simply part of who I am (whether or not I’ve been practicing at all recently)” bullshit. I don’t typically give myself leeway on things like this. Thankfully, I got really drunk the other night and actually wrote something in the midst of emotions involving family affairs and missing my boyfriend that was decent. And decent is stretching it. The first few lines of that freewrite started this post. So now. Imma shuddup and see what can be typed. Because, even though every first draft is worse than manure cat pee skunk sweating dumpster smell, what makes me a writer is fucking writing.

In the rain she could feel at home, and could is the key word. It didn’t always hold her with warm summer arms and remind her that the feeling of tears–even if they are only the sky’s–can be peaceful. When either she or the rain couldn’t capture that perfect caress (maybe the wind interfered: ice shards piercing instead), the rain became a perfect hell. It was the disappointment that meddled. If the rain would have been more kind today, maybe heaven would be there instead, but the anticipation of that comforting caress had been ruined.

However the rain was ruined, it didn’t matter. She looked to her feet, which shuffled in a puddle on her gravel driveway. Life was always to be lived. With a breath of water and air, she opened her car door and let the dry enclosure purge her of the disappointing rain that clattered on her rusting car.

And that’s all I’ve got for right now. Tell me, where should she be heading? What is the life that she must live? I’d like some help with this story. Thank you!

-Katherine Z

Failure’s Motivation

Maybe it was just after midnight or maybe it was nearly sunrise. I wasn’t sure. I was only sure that the air was thin against my bones. It wasn’t a normal summer night with mosquitoes buzzing and a distant coyote’s howl. No, it was quiet. There was no one around to hear me fall.
And fall I would.
There wasn’t any slippery ground or moss-covered foliage to prolong my way… no… there was only my own uneasiness and poor self-esteem. But that battle was much larger than many would think. Against my vivid imagination Hope raged. The quickly approaching ground consumed. Each fall landed with my spine upon a sharp rock, a barbed stick within my abdomen, or the earth shifting and crumbling until my body would find a resting place at this dark valley’s end.
It isn’t like I ever asked to think like this. Just with every single turn I see another branch cracking, the mother bear stirring, and every plausible path disappearing. Have you ever spent a night with only your nightmares? Could you spend an entire day this way and still climb those trees? See those heights? Brave those dams? I wonder if you could.
But I don’t really care.
I care a little more about this: Could you brave those dams if your mind was begging you to jump? Or climb those trees if your soul only wished for you to fall to your death–even before you glimpsed the sky? Or could you see those heights when building tops and cliff ledges only meant convenient places to die?
I wish this weren’t so… but I’m beginning to recognize that, though I may not always desire this, I will always see it. With every cliff, tree, and building top there is a fall and for every pleasant dream there is a lurking evil.

Do you ever feel like your whispers of sweet-anythings only fall on deaf ears? Or as though her feet wanted to remain steadfastly placed upon the ground? And swaying to and fro goes anywhere but forward, so how could those steps bring her home? But the music called as though my heart would continue on. Every note reminds me of each drive that I gave away the wheel on. I drifted away, knowing I would wake up. Knowing I would be beside you, enshrined with a smile that would always tell me of what I would miss.

What I would miss…

Rivalry

So, I wrote this short story for a writing workshop class I took last term. I don’t really like it. Hmm. Maybe not the way to begin this, but whatever! Check it out if you want. (It’s about family and love and competition!)


A sharp scream pierced through my sleep and left me sitting up, staring through the black of night at the looming silhouette of a man. My stomach lurched while the dark figure remained still and ominous in front of me. As my mind shook off the haze of sleep, the visages of nightmares faded into my bedroom walls and within my closet, leaving nothing but a winter coat in place of the man. I’ve been watching way too many horror movies recently, I thought to myself as I placed my hand on my chest, feeling my startled heart slow.

“2:47 AM,” I read the illuminated numbers on my clock out loud, as though this might make them false. Exasperated, I fell back into my bed, my long brown hair restlessly knotting behind my ears while I prayed for sleep.

As the memories of my dreams faded, I began to relax, and my eyelids grew heavy once more. However, this first night at my parents’ house for the holidays was unfamiliar, so, when a mouse scratched the inside of the walls, I was once again fully alert, aware of the absence of trains and cars and meandering drunken college students. Those familiar city noises had been replaced with stirring trees in the wind, inexplicable creaks throughout the old farm-house, an occasional coyote’s howl, and that damn scampering rodent in the wall: which was there once more, no doubt rectifying his little home within my own.

“I just want to get back to sleep!” I hissed as my fist hit the wall where I could hear the mouse. Something jumped off the wall in response to the impact and landed with a muffled thud upon scattered clothes. What was that? I turned on my lamp with the pull of a beaded, metallic string. Stammering out of bed, I found my footing somewhere between dirty clothes, used dishes, books, and collected dirt. I smiled as I looked at my family picture that rested atop my nightstand: my father with his arm around my mother, me giving my younger sister, Stephanie, bunny ears, and our older brother fidgeting as he tried to appear as tall as my dad. We were all dressed in blue and yellow, standing in front of the Michigan stadium after one of the many football games my diehard University of Michigan fans and alumni parents had taken us to.

Circling around my bed, I found the culprit of the thud: another picture. This one was just of Steph and me; we were dressed in orange and black swimsuits: our high school’s colors. I was smiling enthusiastically and bouncing on the balls of my feet. She was timidly holding her own hands, an unsure smile and glance my way that looked like embarrassment. A wave of memories came over me: our early morning swim team meetings, our parents cheering us on at local and state events, our arms being too sore to brush the knots out of our hair after practice, and dreading meets at Jackson High, the pool that was always well below the standard 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The water felt like icicles on that first dive, but we were swimming in a steam room by the time practice was over.

The picture was our last swim meet together before I graduated high school and Steph became a junior. I had just beaten our school’s record for the 100 meter butterfly; my ecstasy was clear in that picture. Steph was always in my brother’s and mine shadow throughout high school, working incredibly hard to be seen as someone other than “Angela’s younger sister” or “one of Brad’s sisters.” We were always competitive as we grew up, and over the past two years Steph went on to beat all my swim records except that 100 meter butterfly. She was never as good at that stroke as me, but her breaststroke and art skills would beat mine any day.

Another mouse distracted me from my recollections as it scurried through the walls. I smiled as I carefully replaced the photo back on the wall. Then I grimaced when I noticed the old socks with dried mud that the picture had landed on. Yuck, I’ll do laundry tomorrow… for now, I thought as I filled my arms with two bowls, a few plates, and some silverware that would soon rust if I did not clean it.

“Someday I’ll be a clean person… Someday I’ll be clean person…” I promised myself as I pulled open my door. The creak of the rusting hinges permeated through to my hand and left an anxiety in my spine akin to someone’s subtle breath in my ear. Creeeepppyyy, I only dared to think. I reached around the corner to flick the stairway’s light switch on as quickly as possible, dishes balancing on my left arm for a moment. Each old wooden stair bent beneath my feet, announcing my presence to anything in the adjoining rooms. As I made my way to the living room, the filtered and muffled voices of actors could be heard seeping under the door.

Expecting to see my mother asleep on the couch, I opened the door to find nothing but unoccupied furniture and a DVD’s menu unabashedly looping itself on the television. I stepped in front of the television and noted the lack of voices I had heard from the stairway.

“Strange… I thought I heard…”

“Angela! Oh!”

A spoon clattered against my dishes as my arms and heart jerked from my surprise. I spun around on the cold wood floor to see my mother turn on the dining room light, illuminating her and sending rays of light through the glass table top.

“Goodness, Mom, you scared the crap out of me,” I said as I stabilized the dishes in my hands and relaxed my muscles.

“You startled me too! I wasn’t expecting you to be up.”

“Well, I think we have a similar sleeping schedule with our insomnia and all… but goodness don’t sneak up on me like that! Seriously…” I shook my head as I began my way towards her and the kitchen.

“Oh, let me get those for you,” she said as she grabbed my dishes from my hand without waiting for a response.

“Uh… thanks. Oh, I didn’t notice when you got home; I was upstairs reading. Have a good day? And how was counseling with Steph?” I questioned apprehensively, curious about my sister’s future.

“Good, good, everything’s…,” she trailed off as I heard the clink of dishes in the sink from the unlit kitchen. I began walking towards the kitchen, but she quickly exited, baring the path from the dining room.

“Everything’s what?” I asked as I folded my arms and leaned my weight onto my right leg.

“Everything’s… umm… no, it’s nothing. I’ll tell you later.”

“Umm…” I hesitated as I wondered whether or not I should press her further. I looked over her shoulder into the darkened kitchen and noticed her shift in the peripheral of my vision. “Okay… well… I’ll just go back upstairs then…” I stepped back and felt the cold wooden planks groan beneath me and rekindle the anxious whisper along my spine. I made my way back upstairs, two steps at a time, without looking back. I turned off the stairway light and entered my room. Door closed, I placed my back against it and felt my hands shaking.

“Why… what was that tension?” I faintly said as I firmly gripped my hands until they stilled. Then I remembered.

“Dang it. I still have to pee.”

Back downstairs, I could hear bristles against dishes as water cascaded over the sound of my footsteps. Finding the opposite side of the living room from the sound, I carefully opened and closed the bathroom door next to my parents’ room.

Within seconds of sitting, I heard a sound tumble over the running water.

Thud.

Something had fallen in the bathtub to my left. I sharply breathed in and told myself of all the precariously placed shampoo bottles along the walls. I then heard a dripping.

Drip.

My gaze followed the sound along the shower curtain.

Drop.

Dark red was pooling on the white tiles.

Another red raindrop splashed, a small ripple coursing through the thick liquid as it stained the grout.

The air stopped. A crimson drop remained suspended from the shower curtain. I heard the faucet’s handle squeak until the water stopped flowing in the kitchen. I stood, held myself with one arm, and reached with the other towards the shower curtain. My mother’s footsteps came across the dining room towards me. I gripped onto the blue plastic and hesitated. Looking over my shoulder, I saw the locked bathroom door.

“Angela! What was that noise? Are you in the bathroom?” She sounded anxious.

With one jerk of my arm I uncovered the bathtub. The thick red drops traced their way up the edge of the curtain to their source on the bathtub’s ledge. I put my hands over my mouth in terror as the crimson stains scorched a place for themselves within my memory.

“I can explain! There is a good reason for this…” my mother said frantically as she pounded on the door.

Swiftly turning, I opened the door and looked my mother in the eyes.

“What is this? What is this abomination?!” I pointed towards the bathtub.

“Your sister… she… she’s going to OSU,” my mother said, defeated, as we looked towards the scarlet and gray paint cans.

“We’re going to paint her room tomorrow.”

“You mean MY old room? MY Michigan room?”

“Yes… I’m so sorry… I didn’t know how to break it to you.”

We both stood in silence for a moment, considering the scarlet paint and how it stained our family’s perfectly blue shower curtain.

“Well… I know who my number one rival in college will be now,” I smirked as I considered the new scale of our sisterly competition.

“Oh, don’t you even get started! Steph has always worked to get out of your shadow, and you insist with this endless competition. You might consider toning that down a little,” Mom suggested while picking up the fallen paint can.

“Hey, hey, Steph wouldn’t have a shadow to try to get out of if it wasn’t for my ‘endless competition,’” I ended mockingly, dabbing at the red paint on the tile with a wad of toilet paper.

“Whatever. Don’t come crying to me when she beats all your records again,” she said with a coy smile as I finished cleaning the paint stain and tossed the paper into the trash.

“What? I’ve never come crying to you!” I objected, placing my hands on my hips while I jutted my bottom lip out.

My Mom looked over at me. She rolled her eyes as I began to lose control of my lip and we burst into laughter.

We stopped when we heard the creak of a door and saw my Dad emerge from his bedroom.

“What the heck are you guys doing?” he asked with disheveled hair.

“Stuff,” I said, still struggling to control my fit of giggles.

“Hun, dontcha think this’ll be a lot of fun: trying to decide which daughter to cheer for? C’mon, Angela, we have cake in the kitchen,” my Mom gestured towards our snack. My dad simply shook his head.

“Is this your after midnight, midnight snack?” my Dad asked.

“Somethin’ like that.”

“Remember, if you don’t start staying in your bed throughout the whole night, Dark Blanket Man will get you,” he pointed my way with a warning.

“OH. MY. GOD. I’m not five anymore, Dad!” I stormed into the kitchen as he retreated to his bedroom.

A red sweater rested on our countertop, next to an already half-eaten cake bleeding scarlet and grey. I cut myself a large piece of cake and added one scoop of vanilla and one scoop of strawberry ice cream to my delicious snack. I smiled as I ate, thanking God for the wonderful family he blessed me with, down to every last unintentional nightmare, competition, and laugh.