Lillie skipped down the hallway. The sound of her patent leather shoes creating music as they struck against the oak floor. Her curled pigtails caught the fading sunlight as they flew through the air and grazed the top of her shoulders.
She turned the corner, heading toward her parents’ bedroom, excited for the evening ahead. But her smiled drooped drastically as she slammed into an unexpected wall of wailing.
There on the floor was her younger sister, Lisa. Hair askew, dress halfway on her slim body, barefoot and screaming, it seemed she was having another one of her “episodes,” as her mother called them.
Lisa rarely seemed to want to get dressed in anything other than her dingy baby pajamas, especially when Lillie was excited to go someplace special.
They never went anywhere special nowadays, though.
Where Lillie was the apotheosis first born, Lisa seemed to be the exact opposite. Even when Lillie was 3, her parents’ friends would come over and compliment the impish child on her polite behavior and good manners.
“She’s so well-behaved, Meredith,” they would say. “Maybe I should have children?”
That would never happen for her younger sister. Lisa had so many episodes her parents’ friends rarely came over to visit anymore.
All she wanted to was celebrate her report card with her family. A cry from Lisa rose in volume. This was clearly the beginning stages for those well versed in Lisa’s episodic meltdowns.
Her father entered the bedroom behind Lillie, glancing from his watch, to his youngest, to his wife.
Her mother sighed heavily.
“I’m sorry, Lillie,” her mother said. She looked like she might join Lisa in crying on the floor. “We’ll have to go another time…I’m so sorry…”
Lillie smiled broadly. This was what she had mastered.
“Yes, Mommy… I understand…”
The hallway seemed to lengthen as Lillie headed back toward her room. Her shoes scraped the floor now, grumbling for her. Tears filled her eyes as she removed the ribbons from her hair, releasing her pigtails, trying not to be mad at her younger sister’s inability to control herself.
“She can’t help it,” Lillie whispered to her stuffed animals on her bed. But they didn’t believe her, and secretly, deep down, she didn’t believe herself either.