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Before 19

Twenty-one Months day I’ll have as much fun as she does, maybe. We’ll be thrown back to the days where we spent hours dressing American Girl Dolls or inventing games to be played with some string and a second-floor balcony. Or we will just sit together on the couch watching Jeopardy, she answering the pop culture questions and I the sporadic classics questions. Either way, we’re a duo, she the entertainer, and I the caretaker. People tell me I’m going to do great things. People tell her she’s going to be happy, no matter what. Can twenty-one months make so great a difference?

Twenty-one Months By Hannah Weber

We are Hannah and Abigail, in that order. I am older and she is younger, and it will always be that way even though once she was convinced she was going to catch up. As an infant she was both the crier and the babbling laugher. She playfully threw toys at me; I picked them up and stacked them in the corner. To Dad I was smart and she was funny. She is fifty percent me, and I am fifty percent her. Elisa is our mother and William is our father. We grew up ten feet from each other. The chicken I chewed quickly was the same chicken she mixed with mashed potatoes and threw at the wall. The school bus I boarded each morning was the same bus that felt the clamor of her amusement in the back. Mom’s words of warning and love resonated in both of our ears; Dad’s stories made us laugh at the same pitch. Only our hysterical snorts would emerge within a few seconds of each other. Abigail is sixteen. The difference that twenty-one months can make is enough to render two sisters incomparable, except for the similar contours of our faces and the indistinguishable tone of our voices. I’m an inch taller; her hair is two inches shorter and five times as dark. At family reunions I see relatives struggle to discern the “silly one” from the “serious one.” After a few minutes of conversation, they find out for themselves. If they only knew how different we really are. I teared up over spilled milk, she laughed as it poured on the carpet. She lights things on fire and goes out at night. I won’t sleep until I finish the last sentence of my Latin homework or until my anxiety calms. The roar of laughter coming from her room is a nightly occurrence, as is my constant frustration and pleas for silence. Her closest friends are innumerable; mine can be counted on two hands. Adults probe her for jokes and stories, while I prepare my arsenal of polite responses to questions about college or work. Can the girl who blasts Green Day in the bathroom be the same sister with whom I built forts and dollhouses? Maybe one day I’ll learn to have fun melting candles and covering my fingers with the wax, or skipping homework for a game of tug of war with our dogs. Maybe I’ll throw flour on my sister while baking together instead, and then maybe we’ll get sick eating the cookie dough. Maybe I’ll stop thinking about history essays and worry about what movie we’re going to see tonight. Maybe I’ll sprint not to impress a coach, but because I want to see how fast I can go. One 8


Twenty-one Months