Left Behind

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

I chewed on my lower lip as I watched my oldest sister, Jackie, heave the last of her moving boxes off the floor. She was leaving today for some place far away and not coming back. Sure, she said she’d visit, but Mom said it would take a whole day just to drive from her new place to here. She won’t be back. I want her to take me, too.

“Aren’t you going to help?” asked Jackie.

“I’m too little. Your stuff is too heavy,” I said. I’m only five, the oops baby they didn’t expect. Before me the family was perfect – Mom and Dad had two boys and two girls.

“I mean with the door.” Jackie’s tone had a sarcastic edge.

“Oh.” I released the balled up edge of my summer nightgown, scooted backwards into the door, and slowly pressed my butt against it until it opened. I had learned the door didn’t creak so badly if you opened it slowly. The cool morning air prickled my naked arms and legs; the sidewalk damp and gritty against my bare feet. Jackie wedged that last box into the only empty spot left in the trunk of her old Dodge sedan before slamming the lid.

“Cheer up. Before you can miss me, I’ll be back,” she said. A button fell off her shirt, making a tapping sound as it hit the sidewalk. She didn’t notice and instead ruffled my sleep tangled hair as she passed by me. Easy for her to say. She sounded happy about leaving me for college. Jackie will get to do whatever she wants. I rescued the little white button from the sidewalk as I followed her back into the house.

She hugged Mom and Dad. Then she hugged our twelve year old brother; he reluctantly allowed it. Our other brother and sister had said goodbye last night because they had to work this morning. She turned to me, but before she could hug me, I ran to my room and slammed the door.

With tears stinging my eyes, I slid down the door as I continued to clutch my souvenir. I pulled the edge of my nightgown up over my face and cried. Maybe if she can’t say goodbye to me she won’t leave.

The door muffled the conversation on the other side, but I could make out a few of Mom’s words, “she’ll . . . okay . . . forgive”. Then the backdoor creaked open and closed with a thump. A moment later, the old Dodge cranked. I ran to the window in time to see its back end disappear around the corner and out of sight.

She left me anyway.

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