My mother looked at me and her eyes told me that she did not want to. My father couldn’t even manage that; he stared at the wall. The wall that my sister and I scratched up and wrote on when we were only young. This wall was apparently much easier to stomach than me.
“You killed her.” My mother spat the words at me and I felt them hit me like bullets. “You killed my baby.”
What could I say to her? Nothing. No words could ever come out of my mouth in my own defense, because it just so happens that my mother was telling the truth. I killed my own sister and I now must accept the shame and the blame that they throw my way.
Shae was my best friend. She was a year younger than me, but I idolized her. When Shae walked, she glowed. Her hair shone, her eyes sparkled, her smile dazzled, and her laugh resonated. She was always happy, which in turn made people want to be around her. My sister, Shae Morris: the most popular girl at Lakeview High.
That’s how a lot of people knew her anyways. She was the one who was always dressed as though she walked out of Vogue. She smiled as though she were advertising a toothpaste. She walked like she knew people were watching. She laughed like she hadn’t a care in the world. Shae was that girl, the it girl. To me, she was a lot more though.
Shae was the little girl who at four years old was charitable. Her, Ma, and I were all eating breakfast at the restaurant around the corner from us - Joe’s. Shae had a bagel, and so did I. Ma and I were arguing because I wanted to get another, when we noticed that Shae was no longer sitting next to us. My mother’s face drained, my heart raced. I was only five years old, but fear of losing my best friend already overwhelmed me. We searched frantically around the restaurant. When we finally found her, she was sitting outside on the curb next to an old man holding a sign that read “Spare change for food”. Shae saw this on our way inside and realized she hadn’t any change to give the man - she was, after all, only four. Nevertheless, as soon as the man behind the counter handed her the bagel, Shae headed outside to give it to the man. She then sat with him as he ate, because I once told her that it was no fun to eat alone.
Shae was the thirteen year old girl who punched my first boyfriend when he broke my heart. I was sitting on the swing hanging from the old oak outside our house, and she came to see me. “What’s wrong Jade?” she asked me. “You only ever swing on this swing when you’re upset.” I told her to forget about it. I told her I didn’t want to talk about it with her. “Well do you want me to call your boyfriend? Maybe you could talk to him.” The tears started spilling when she said those words. Little did she know he had just broken up with me over whatever petty fight we worked ourselves into in grade eight. Shae rolled up her sleeves and told me that she’d be right back. She said she was going to get some ice cream for me at the corner store. She came back an hour later and wouldn’t tell me what took so long. It was only the next day at school when Jake Webb walked in with a black eye that I figured it out.
Shae was the sixteen year old girl who cried herself to sleep when she found out that she didn’t get the part she wanted in the school play, Peter Pan. The teacher put her in the lead role as Wendy, but Shae wanted to play Tinker Bell. “I just felt a connection.” She said. I rolled my eyes, but I patted her hair until she fell asleep all the same, because I knew that Shae simply had a heart too full of passion for her own good.
Shae was the girl who still slept with a teddy bear. Shae was the girl who swore that putting a band aid on the cut made the pain go away. Shae was the girl whose laugh made everyone laugh. Shae was the girl who still twisted the twig on her apple to know how old she was. Shae was the girl who thought that any dream could come true if you dreamed it hard enough.
Shae was my little sister.
On the night before her debut on stage as Wendy, our parents went out of town. They handed me the keys to our other car and told me it was only to be used in emergencies, and that I was in charge. That night Shae was restless.
“Can you believe it Jade?” she beamed. “Tomorrow I start my acting career! Who knows what will come next for me.”
I shook my head and laughed. She was a dreamer if nothing else.
“Can’t we take the car and go rent Peter Pan?” she pleaded.
“No,” I said. “We aren’t allowed.”
“Oh please,” she begged. “It will help me to get into character!”
The sincerity on her face was eating at my heart. I wanted to let her use the car so badly.
“Come on!” She insisted. “I’ll be your best friend.”
The look on her face, the whine in her voice, the excitement in her eyes. “Okay fine, I’ll make us dinner, you take the car, but hurry home.”
“You killed her,” My mom said. “You killed my baby.”
My knees buckled and I thanked my lucky stars that there was a chair behind me. “I’m sorry, Ma.”
She stormed out of the room without another word. “Dad?”
“We trusted you.” I almost didn’t hear him say it. It was such a low whisper. “Shae trusted you.”
He followed my mother out of the room and left me sitting there. It had been three weeks since that night. It had been three weeks since I put the keys into my sister’s hand - the keys that started the car, that wrapped around the tree, that killed my sister.