When I pass on to unknown, I’ll dive in headfirst. But I will have much more time there than I will on this earth. So I’ve always tried to do as much as possible to make amends with everyone I know because I don’t have much time to do it. Anne wasn’t always in agreement with that ideology. The first night Anne didn’t show up was after one of the biggest fights she ever had with my parents. It started when Mother hid from her that she got into a boarding school in Kansas City. Mother was afraid Anne wouldn’t come back after she was exposed to city life. She hid the letter in her underwear drawer. It wasn’t until they sent a follow-up letter about tuition when Anne found out. That night I fell asleep to the chorus of yells. The next morning they refused to talk directly to each other. Mother kept furiously staring at her food and shifting it around her plate. Anne was wrapped in a blanket staring at the wall across the room. Mom beckoned me over.
“Can you tell Anne that I did it out of love?” She moved her fork from hand to hand.
Anne groaned from across the room. “Aaron, tell mom no one gives a shit about her love.” She spat. Mom’s plate clattered to the floor and she ran into the kitchen crying. Anne sat perfectly still, then slowly rose from the couch and left. The door clicked closed behind her, and I sat in silence. Alone.
Anne didn’t come home that night. Actually, not for the three nights after either. Mother and Father didn’t call the local police. They didn’t even mention it. It was as if she hadn’t vanished, but had never existed.
If she came back she’d spilling with apologies or curse words but no in between. I say if because at that point, I really didn’t know. But when Anne did finally show up she was silent. All Mother could say to her was You’re late for dinner. And Anne responded with Of course. That was it. The rest of the night was completely normal. I never learned where she stayed for those invisible days.
The second big fight was with dad. She wanted to go to a bar with her friend Reese, and Dad forbade her. She started screaming about how if they were putting her under house arrest and throwing pillows. Eventually Dad gave in and she stormed off. Later that night she came back drunk and excited, talking about how Reese and her planned on becoming Environmentalists to save the turtles of Galapagos. She was topsy and turvy and dangerous. She started to make fake stabbing motions with a pencil. She pinched my neck and drew blood, cackling and dancing across the rug. So I pushed her. She fell right onto a shelf and lay sprawled on the floor. Shrieking, she felt the growing lump on her skull. She threw her shoe at me and waved her limbs wildly, screaming about how I was a terrible brother who was a waste of eggs. I managed to get her to bed an hour later.
That was when her grades began plummeting. Whenever a report card came in she’d show it to Mother and Father triumphantly, making sure to point out the Ds and Cs. Soon those Ds and Cs became Fs. Every time Mother would get furious she’d recite the same line: “Remind me again, if you really cared about my education, why would you throw away my only chance to get a better one?” She’d paste on a sarcastic smile. Eventually Mom and Dad wouldn’t even look at the report cards because they were so ashamed. Still, not at what they had done, but what she had done. One day when she came home drunk, she started breaking things. Plates shattered, doors were torn off hinges, and it was loud enough to melt my eardrums. After flipping off my parents and running out into the darkness, she never came back.
She started sleeping at her friend’s houses instead of home, and our parents weren’t opposed. And honestly, for a while, her life seemed even healthier than when she was home. She cut and dyed her hair blue, and joined the soccer team. She had moved on. And then her friend Reese brought drugs with the alcohol. I think that’s when she cracked. She stopped coming to school altogether, and when she did she got into bloody fistfights. Usually we pretended we didn’t even know each other. She understood. But once in a while we’d run into each other, and it was like seeing a soldier back from war. I’ve missed you I’d tell her. She’d respond with You better have. We’d hug and then as soon as the reunion had started it was over. At least she’d make amends with me. Mom and Dad, I wasn’t so sure.