Margaret burst through the door with that wild look in her eyes again. I had no idea what was going to come crawling out of her mouth this time.
“Can you lend me your shoes til Monday?” She asked, and that was it. She paused, breathlessly, waiting for my answer. I was so taken aback by the succinctness of her question that I worked my face, fishlike, for a moment before finding my vocal cords.
“Um, sure, Margie, but what for? And which shoes?” That was enough to send her back to la-la land. I should have just nodded and kept my damn mouth shut. I rolled my eyes at her near-catatonia and pricked my ears at her mumblings.
“It better not be cats. Or pigeons. Or…” And she trailed out of intelligibility again. What on God’s green earth was she talking about this time? I usually resigned myself to not ever knowing, but this time, my Skechers were at stake. I had to get to the bottom of this.
“Margie.” No response.
“Hey, Margie.” Still nothing.
I took her gently by the shoulders and tried to look into her eyes. It wasn’t long before she actually started to come out of it and met my gaze.
“Margie. Tell me about the shoes. And the critters. And by all that’s holy, stay with me!”
She nodded, swallowing hard.
I couldn’t believe my luck. My sister had gone off the deep end when she was seven, and she’d never looked back. I hadn’t seen this much lucidity in her expression in the last eight years combined. Since I hadn’t really expected this to work, I was already at the end of my scripted plan.
Fortunately, Margaret took over, saving me the trouble of thinking any further ahead.
“Trust me, Susie. Almost everything I’m going to tell you is true, but I can’t tell you what’s what, because I don’t know. You have to figure that out on your own.” She paused as if to give me a moment to consider this before she took me any deeper down the rabbit hole.
I let her lead me the four steps to my bed, where we sat and she started talking. Most of it made more sense than anything I’d ever heard in my life.
I only prayed that those were the parts that were true.
25 minutes writing by hand; 9 minutes transcribing onto my phone.
Coreen was the younger; she hated the color of lima beans, the sound of a glass cookie jar being opened, and the smell of Theresa’s breath.
Theresa was the taller sister; she wanted to feel intimidating, so she wore heels exclusively, to accentuate her height.
Coreen was the shorter sister; she didn’t understand the importance that Theresa placed on her half-inch advantage.
Theresa was the antisocial sister; she never spoke to anyone when she was in school, she refused to utilize public transportation, and she did not partake in social media.
Coreen was the social butterfly sister; she was invited to every party, she volunteered for everything she could, and she had two Wheatons of followers on Twitter.
Theresa was the healthy eater; she always turned down carbs for veg, she never drank soda, and she shunned ice cream.
Coreen was the fast food junkie; she never met a fried food she didn’t like, she hated the taste of water, and she consumed red meat daily.
Theresa loved fashion to the exclusion of hygiene; she was always up to date on the latest Paris fashions, she designed her own jewelry, and she sewed her own clothes.
Coreen cared more about her skin than her clothing; she bathed fastidiously, she cleansed and moisturized ritually, and she exfoliated twice a week.
In spite of all their differences, the only thing their parents cared about was their unconventional physical appearance, and they forced the girls to suffer much medical misfortune before they were old enough to run away and be themselves. After that, they lived happily ever after.