The sky paints our gleaming skin, and glitters against the turquoise water. Our legs swing from the dock, the tips of our feet skimming the water, sending electric coolness through us. My sister laughs, and the wind carries the sound. In just a few seconds, the water will steal us, and strings of water will splatter the dock. I glance at her. She’s gliding through the water, her hair cascading down her back. She’s like the sun. Without her, the world would be dark, and yet she’s always there, so I often overlook her presence.
As I look back, I see laughter, smiles. I see French manicures, prom dresses, field hockey sticks, and lopsided Brooklyn apartments. Now, I see sandy, dry deserts with shepherds herding hundreds of sheep, and the intricate Arabic alphabet. I know this because last spring, she announced her ambition of teaching in Jordan at an American-style boarding school.
My parents’ attention, not to mention every single one of our aquaintances’, slowly shifted to my sister and her future. I was the youngest in the family, the one everyone gushed over and admired. I’d always been somewhat like a china doll in a glass case, but would get jealous if the attention from me for two minutes. So there I was, with everyone in the universe talking about the way this was a lovely experience, what an amazing girl she was, how she would go on to do great things, and I would just sit there, arms crossed, lips in a thin line, and eyes fixated on the ground.
It wasn’t that I was trying to get attention, although maybe that was slightly part of it. I felt jealous. I felt wistful. I felt as though a puzzle piece was missing. My sister had always been within reach, and now she was going to be across the world, in an entirely different time zone, learning to speak Arabic and teaching Shakespeare plays. It was more exciting than anything I’d ever done. A pang of annoyance and jealousy combined into one emotion would run through me every time someone mentioned her new job.
A few days, before she left, we argued. Not only was the argument irrelevant and unimportant, it was so irrelevant and unimportant that I can't recall fully what it was about. I remember our voices screaming and echoing across the silent lake and my dogs tentatively seeing what was wrong, but most of all I remember her voice, over a blur of chaos, saying loudly and clearly, "In case you forgot, I'm moving to Jordan in three days, so..." This line made me feel as if I'd just fallen out of a tree and gotten my breath knocked out of me. It was a reality. In three days, we'd say goodbye.
When three days passed, and my parents drove her to the airport in New York City, I watched their car descend through the trees, down the gravelly road, before turning back, full of happiness and regret combined. I remembered in disgust the days I would sit sulking because every ounce of attention was not on me, but I also remembered the good things: the midnight swims, the days when we'd do nothing but listen to loud music and hang out, the times when we'd watch Matilda and cry at the sad parts, and the lengthy debates we had over The Hunger Games.
After she moved, I became more selfless, and more aware of what I did and said. I still have the moments when I find myself annoyed when all my parents talk about are my brother's college applications, but mostly I have become someone different. I'm a better friend, a better daughter, and most of all, a better sister.