The Trouble With Sis
A Short Story by Jason Moore
Written using the suggestion "Ants"
Originally featured on 04-14-2008
As part of our series "Marching On"

Even though Sis was three years older, we were pretty close. When it wasn’t raining hard or too cold, we’d go outside and play in the fields or the woods. We loved exploring, and we’d be gone all day if we were finding cool things and weren’t fighting too much, and we’d get home just in time to sit down for supper and say grace.

During our last summer together we spent a lot of time catching mice and looking for nests in the trees on the hill. Sis liked to crack open the eggs we found so we could see what the birds looked like before they hatched. If we found a good one we’d take it to Pa’s junk pile at the edge of the woods and add it to the bone collection we kept in an old iron cook stove. We laid them out in rows on the metal racks, and sometimes we’d have funerals and give speeches about them and pretend to cry.

Sometimes Sis’d hit me or play mean tricks, but I admit I did some pretty bad stuff to her too, maybe even meaner now that I think about it. Like the time when we were peeling peaches in the kitchen so Granny could make a pie. I was talking about how many pieces I was gonna eat and the buttery crust and the gooey warm insides. Sis was making fun of me for being in love with pie and carrying on about it, and it made me really mad, so I reached over and stabbed her arm with my knife. There wasn’t much blood, but she was a real baby so she started screaming like she was gonna die. She threw the saltshaker and hit me square in the forehead, then took off running, and I went after her.

I chased her outside, through the garden. Right when we got to the picket fence that separates the front and back yards she closed the gate behind her. I couldn’t slow down so I slammed into it at full speed, and my neck went right into the pointy boards on the top. The doctor said another inch to the side and it would have cut something he called my “juggler”. The good news is that the scars will go away some day. I gotta admit, it was a pretty good trick.

About a week later we were out playing by the woodpile and we found a hole in the ground with a bunch of red ants. Sis told me she’d get a spider and show me how to make it fight with the ants. She told me to sit in the grass under the oak tree by the back door and wait, and keep my eyes closed.

I could hear Sis sneaking up to me and I started to peek a little because I was so excited to see the spider. She yelled, “Keep your eyes closed, stupid.”

I couldn’t stand it any longer, and I opened my eyes just in time to see her pull the top of my dress away from my neck and pour a canning jar full of dirt and red ants down my front. I don’t know if you’ve ever had fire ants down your dress, but once they start stinging and crawling over you, you feel like you’re gonna die and you’ll do anything to make them stop. I ripped my dress over my head and rolled around in the grass, screaming and crying. Granny came running out and put Sis on her knee right there and gave her the best whooping I’ve ever seen. She yelled, “What’s wrong with you child? The Devil’s got into you.”

I was so mad I didn’t talk to her for a couple of days. Even though it was real lonely, I just played in the kitchen by myself with my dolls and crayons. Then I came up with a plan to scare her real bad to get back at her.

I stole a big pile of granny’s sewing stuff, some yarn and buttons and pieces of bright cloth, and went out to the junk pile. There was an old refrigerator out there, and sometimes we got in it to see who could stand being inside the longest. I decorated it with the ribbons and buttons to make it look real pretty.

I took her out there the next morning and told her I made something special and I wasn’t mad anymore. I opened the fridge door and told her it was a special place for playing make believe. She knew I was up to something. She just peeked at it from the side, but I told her she had to get closer to see all the beads and ribbons, and when she leaned in a little I pushed her in the back and she fell in, then I slammed the door closed. She started screaming and banging right away and the whole fridge was shaking so hard I thought she might get out. When I heard her yell that she was gonna kill me I got real scared, so I ran off and hid in the barn. I kept thinking about going back, but I was scared she’d beat me up, so I hid the rest of the day.

Ma and Pa were mad she wasn’t at supper. They asked me where she was, and I just played dumb and said I hadn’t seen her since breakfast, and that I was in the barn all day because I was still mad at her.

They started looking for her while granny and I ate dinner, and when it got dark I went to bed. They must’ve found her real late because I was real groggy when all the commotion and Ma’s screaming and crying woke me up.

Ma says she’s gonna have another baby soon to fill the hole in her heart. She hopes it’s a boy, but I don’t care what it is. I just hope it’s nicer than Sis was.

Read More By Jason Moore

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