“Sit up.” Mom says.
She gets up and stands behind Sissy’s chair. Sissy’s hair is always in her food. Mom uses her fingers and combs it back into a ponytail. She sits back down.
“John, at work, got the first deer of the season.” Dad says. He shovels more potatoes into his mouth and Mom nods.
“That’s good. He didn’t get anything last year—right?” she says.
I look down at Sissy’s hand and slide mine towards hers. She starts eating the chicken, and I pull one of her fingers.
“Yeah,” Dad says, “at least this year they can fill their freezer.”
She reaches over and flicks my thumb.
“Mhmm, I can’t believe how bad things were—“
I squeeze her pinky finger and she starts giggling.
Mom looks over at us.
“Shhhh! Eat your dinner. Dad and I are talking.”
We look down, still trying not to laugh. Sissy sticks her fork in another piece of chicken.
“Anyway, it looks like things are getting better for them.”
“Yeah, yeah. Seems like it is.”
Mom and Dad keep talking. I slide my foot next to Sissy’s chair leg.
I wait for her to take a drink.
She picks up the milk and tips it toward her mouth.
I kick her chair.
She drops the cup.
Milk goes everywhere.
“Lucy! C’mon now!” Mom says and Dad throws his fork onto his plate.
He looks at us.
Sissy’s eyes are big.
“Go to bed. Now. Upstairs.” He says.
He’s trying not to yell.
We hurry away from the table and go right to our room. Lucy climbs onto her bed and I climb up next to her.
“I’m sorry.” I say.
She won’t look at me.
Someone knocks on the door.
Sissy’s asleep and I don’t answer. Mom opens the door and walks quietly to Sissy’s bed, trying not to wake her.
“Sissy,” I whisper, and Mom looks at me. She shakes her head.
Sissy rolls over.
Mom blinks and looks down. She sits next to Sissy and puts her hand on her forehead.
I bet her hands are always warm and soft.
“What was going on at dinner tonight, huh?” She smooths Lucy’s hair.
“You’re never like that.” She says.
Sissy looks at me.
“It wasn’t me.” She says.
Mom looks at me and there are tears in her eyes.
“Lucy, don’t say that. We talked about lying.” Mom’s voice breaks. She’s crying.
Sissy stares at me.
“I’m not, Mommy. I saw Sissy kick my chair.”
Mom shakes her head and wipes her eyes. She stands up.
“Mom! I’m telling the truth!” Sissy yells. She’s angry now.
Mom walks to the door and Sissy puts her face in the pillow. She starts to cry too.
Mom closes the door, but I hear her say something to Dad.
“Did she say it again?”
“Yes, Brian. She said her sister kicked her chair.” Mom says.
“What are we going to do?”
“Maybe we just have to wait a little longer.” Dad says. He sounds sad.
“She’s been dead a year, Brian. I can’t do this anymore.”