The street had been paved. It was no longer tar and gravel. It was paved and had beautiful black curbs. Chicken Bones walked behind Nancy. It was expected. Because Chicken Bones was little and Nancy was three years older. Chicken Bones was happy to walk behind her big sister though. From this vantage point, she could watch Nancy’s perfect blonde ponytail swing from side to side. (Chicken Bones had a mousy brown pixie cut.) She could watch Nancy prance along the top of the new curb. (Chicken Bones slipped off the sides and scraped her ankles.) She could admire Nancy’s cute pop top and coordinating pedal pushers. (Chicken Bones covered her skinny limbs with her striped grey t-shirt and faded red stretchies.) She could follow her down the smooth new street. She could love her from a distance.
The blizzard had hit. The drifts were piled to the eaves. It was cold and white and untouched. Chicken Bones followed Nancy outside. She didn’t know what to do with the backyard. She stood and shivered. Nancy designed and dug and created a labyrinth of tunnels. (Chicken Bones tried to not get lost.) Nancy carved out snow seats and tables and set them with frozen crystal dishes. (Chicken Bones licked her mitts.) Nancy fortified the entrances with sticks and blankets. (Chicken Bones got a little bit scared in the dark.) Nancy created a magical wintry world and she shared it with Chicken Bones. They stayed in it as long as they could. When they went in for supper, Nancy was proud of her work. (Chicken Bones cried because her fingers and toes were burning from the cold.) She cried, too, because she wanted to stay with Nancy. She loved her when they played together.
The bath was over. The teeth were brushed. Clean flannelette pyjamas were on. Chicken Bones sat with Nancy. Nancy was a good reader and Chicken Bones loved to listen. (Chicken Bones couldn’t read yet.) Nancy read “Susie Says” and “Just Josie” with a little bit of a lisp and Chicken Bones wished she could talk like that. Chicken Bones liked to watch, too, as Nancy’s mouth pronounced the words in a special way because she had one tooth that was just a tiny bit crooked. (Chicken Bones eventually grew extremely crooked teeth that required years of orthodontia. She never got a cute lisp.) Nancy would read and read and read until Chicken Bones was tired or cranky or fidgety. Then Chicken Bones would be sent to bed because she was the youngest and, according to the posted bedtime schedule, had to retire first. Nancy got to stay up an extra half hour and watch TV shows that Chicken Bones didn’t get to. (Chicken Bones would lie awake in bed straining to hear what the show was about.) She knew that Nancy would eventually find her way to their room. And Chicken Bones would fall asleep knowing that her big sister would be there in the morning. Chicken Bones loved Nancy day and night.
Their childhood was passed. The middle years had arrived. Chicken Bones and Nancy had their own kids and grandkids. (Chicken Bones got bigger than Nancy.) But Chicken Bones still looked up to her sister.
She loves her to this day.
(Happy Birthday today, Nancy!)
©Conni Cartlidge, 2010