“Can you create a world for just the two of us?”
“I don’t know, can I?”
“You know what they say, you never know until you try.”
There was always something about my sister. I never knew what bothers me everytime I’m with her. Probably, even if I’m with her, she’s never there. She always fades out, her attention caught at something else, a nearby tree or a hidden flower within a green bush. I think she might have ADHD, but as a Psychology student and having three years in my degree, I can tell that she does not have ADHD or any disorder whatsoever. Maybe I’m jealous of her. She’s smart, has a face of an angel,( that’s what my friends tell me), and that she’s very kind. Yeah, kind, maybe because it’s just that she rarely talks. That pisses me off. I hate that she does not talk much unlike other girls out there. Maybe it’s because I don’t try to reach out to her, maybe that’s why.
I hate silence, she knows that I hate it; probably that’s why she rarely talks when we’re the only ones in the house. I should play music everytime our parents leave us home alone. We don’t have many neighbors so someone reporting our home for noise is little to no chance. That’s a good plan. No, actually, music is just as annoying. I just want to hear her voice and the greatest thing that I ask from the world and from myself: To understand her.
The first time I saw her or notice her was all the way back when I was four. She was a year older than me at the time, and I hated the fact that a girl was older than me. It means that she can boss me around and I hated that. I hate the idea that a feminine figure, a figure of an older sister can tell me what I should do and what I shouldn’t do. My mom was okay, my father too, I got used to them leaving us with the babysitter. I don’t recall much about our babysitter, but she was the same sitter until I grew old enough. She stayed around, until my sister learned how to cook. Yeah, I got used to the babysitter and our parents leaving us at times, but I can never get used to my sister. I should stop hating her, I never did, there was nothing to hate about her. I don’t like the way she’s always calm. I would go to her room and break something just for her to get angry, to be mad and shout at me. Instead when I do such things she would just look at me, smile and say, “its okay little brother, it’s not your fault.” Then she would hug me. I hated that. I would tell mom or dad or the babysitter, whoever is home, that my sister broke something. That never worked out, the plan would backfire and I would end up getting scolded. I stopped doing it, guessing that there must be hidden cameras around the house because the people I would tell would know the reality of it.
I remember going on an investigation when I was thirteen, an investigation to find the hidden cameras in our house. It was stupid, I know, but it was a pretty big house, so cameras are a big possibility. I searched every nook and cranny. No cameras in the kitchen, no cameras in the living room, no cameras in my room, along the way I found out there were no boogeyman under my bed and no monsters behind my closet. I even searched the garden (which always seemed to be a maze to me) for the cameras but nothing, no hidden control room (if there was, it was damn well hidden), no hidden camera (if there was, that camera is as small as a peanut). Disappointed, with the twenty four hour investigation, I had to come up with something. Then I remembered, the cameras must be in the villain’s lair, my sister’s room. Yep, it had to be there, nowhere else to hide it, or so I thought. The next day I devised a plan that I’m going to pass through her window. I drew out the plan so I’d be prepared. I don’t know why I would ruin my amazing plan, but I did. The door in her room was open. I thought that she locks it everytime she goes to school. It made things much easier, but I remember being quite disappointed because my plan was kind of ruined.
I was thirteen and I get distracted easily. First of all her room was too clean, that made it harder for me to search, boys are never used to searching clean rooms, they’re just too clean. I told myself that I would never open her closet. That would be the end of everything if I do. I searched and searched. Her comfort room, her bed, study table, nothing. Nothing! She hid it in the place that she knows that I would never search, her closet. I had to do it, I had to open the closet and behind it, I would find a hidden control room, then I would tell my parents that she was behind the evil masterplan, then they would hate her, I would be a hero, then she would get angry at me for the first time. I was childish, but who cares? It’s worth it, getting her evil masterplan, her dark secret on why people find out so easily who the bad guy is, getting her caught was all worth it for my embarrassment. But right before I open the closet, a voice from the door.
“What are you doing?” a girl’s voice. It was her, my sister. Damn it! I was so close; I wouldn’t let her stop me when I was so close. I was sure that the hidden control room was behind her closet. I gave her a triumphant smile, like the one that a hero would do when he foiled an evil villain’s masterplan.
“I know you’re hiding it here!” I said with much enthusiasm. God, I was so stupid back then, so childish. I don’t even know how I graduated high school with so much stupidity. Gladly I did. With that aside, my sister said, “Oh! What is it I’m hiding there in that closet?” she was shocked, for god’s sake she covered her mouth and raised her eyebrows, like any shocked person would do. I fell for it. I thought I had her. But no, I never did. She was always one step ahead, and I was always behind her as I grow up.
“Don’t act stupid. I know you are hiding…” I open the closet door, like a retarded kid with a smile, “HIDDEN CAMERAS!”.
So much shame. So much stupidity. There was nothing in the closet but clothes and girl stuff. “There are no hidden cameras here, silly! Just clothes, panties, bras, oh no, I hope you haven’t seen those!” She said and giggled. I ran, I prayed that she would not tell our parents about our little encounter. I pray that I would never remember. I fell for her plan once again. I remember that night during dinner; I couldn’t look at my parents in the eye. My sister would just smile and giggle silently. My parents would ask why, and then I would look at her with my eyes full of shame. She never told them. God, if she did, my parents would think that I was some naughty boy looking for some panties. Jesus, I can’t imagine that much of shame. She saved me once again and once again, I hated every bit of it.
After sometime, I matured (I guess). And I stopped my relentless act trying to prove that my sister is an evil witch that just acts all miss goodie-goodie. With the help of my sister, I graduated high school with much mediocrity. My sister was valedictorian and everyone loved her. In her speech she mentioned me, thanked me, I enjoyed a bit of it, but there my friends kept teasing me while they drool over her. I hated that they would idolize her so much. Yes, I was jealous. Super jealous, in fact.
In college she decided to take biology, as a major. Who the hell does that? She said that she wanted to become an environmentalist. My parents were so proud that she wanted to contribute to the world. I told them that I wanted to become a psychologist, they were proud of that too. But I knew they were happier with my sister than they were happy of me.
College was something I waited for my entire life. Freedom. Who does not want freedom away from parents, away from annoying big sisters? Best thing ever. Girls, parties, and so much more. No one to tell me what to do, no one to restrict me. That never happened though. I never knew that there was a nearby university in my house (It was like seven blocks away and I never knew). My parents assured me that I can do things that I wanted to do in college. Parties, girlfriends, they restricted me away from drugs and too much booze. Yeah, that’s okay, but I had a personal watcher, my sister. Dear god, why? Why her? I had to live with it, but I had to set up my own rules. A day before first day of college I dragged her into my room for some brother and sister talk, something we rarely have.
“Okay, you’re not going to restrict me, I can do whatever I want.” I said.
“Sure! You got it little brother. No worries.” She said with a smile.
“Really? Just like that?” I asked. I was quite shocked that she let me off the hook like that.
“Well, no drugs. That’s one thing you can’t do. You can’t get drunk, no way, and that you have to call me every hour when you’re over your curfew.” She said with reassuring smile.
“I can do that.” I said, still shocked that she gave me so much freedom.
“Okay then! Good talk, lil’ brother.” She said and gave me a hug.
“You have to stop doing that, really. Call me by name and never ever call me little brother in campus.” I said much angrier than I expected.
“Oh, okay, I won’t call you that in campus. But I can call you that at home!” She said giggling and gave me a pat in the head. Then she left, just like that.
The first year of college was a blur to me. You could say that I got some attention, people I didn’t know said “Hi” to me. Hey, some of them were pretty hot girls so who am I to deny that I enjoyed a bit of it? I enjoyed most of it, every bit of it. No, actually, I didn’t. There was a great hole somewhere in my mind, a great mystery that wasn’t solved. Everything turns nothing when I look into my sister’s eyes. What was it that I saw? Emptiness? I wasn’t sure. She was a mystery to me ever since. I should have not bothered knowing her better. But somehow the greatest stranger in my life was this single person that lived my whole life with me, in the same house, in the same circle of people, in the same world of strangers. I wonder if she knew much about me. There was no way that she could have known much about me. She rarely talks to me and I rarely talk to her. One day, however, I decided that I would spend more time with her and somehow life figured out that I wanted such a thing or maybe it wasn’t life, maybe it was her who figured it out. She told our parents that she wanted to go to Alaska. And I had mouthed in front of the dinner table, “What the hell.” I remember mom and dad stared at me like it was my idea.
“Why are you looking at me?” I asked. “I’m as shocked as you are.”
“He has nothing to do with this. It’s for my research.” She said. Mom and dad remained silent.
“Yeah, I have nothing to do with it.” I said with a smile. I had to ask her something though. “Why Alaska? Why can’t you be a normal girl for once in your life and go to London or Paris or something? Alaska is just so barren, what are you studying? Snow?” I said, happy with my little joke.
“There seems to be something there that I have to find, plus Alaska is a place where rarely there’s any researcher around! Think of the possibilities, I could find new organisms, new plant life! Or at least something like that.” She said enthusiastically. I hated where the conversation was going. First, most parts of Alaska is isolated, even though it is isolated, the place has high rate of violence, may it be from animals attacking people or people attacking people. Second, she has to go with someone, and no, that someone is not our father or our mother, that someone was me. I didn’t want to be stuck with my sister in a stranded cold desolated place in the world. Why can’t she just go to London or Venice like a normal girl? Why Alaska?
“I do not agree with this plan whatsoever, it would be too dangerous-“I tried to reason out but then my father interrupted.
“I think that there is a huge possibility of finding something new there. I think it is a good idea.” My father interrupted.
“But sweetie, we have to take into account that it is a dangerous place for someone like your daughter. You’ve heard news there. Animals, bears, attack people in the wild.” My mother said with much worry. This was the part that I hated the most. If she had not said those words, I wouldn’t be in the trip and nothing would have happened and everyone would have forgotten the entire conversation and everything would be fine. But I did ask for time with my sister, didn’t I?
“You need someone to be there with you. A guide and someone that you know.” My father stated.
“I already have a guide, dad. So no worries, she knows her way around Alaska better than anyone!” My sister said with a huge smile on her face. I was quiet, because I already knew what my father would say.
“A guide AND! Someone you know. Your brother should suffice. I bet he’s excited to explore the wilderness of Alaska too.” He said with much enthusiasm.
“Dad! I am nowhere near interested in going to Alaska! Are you expecting me to protect two girls from bears? Are you insane!? I will be the first to run if there’s a sign of trouble!” I said with power in my tone, hoping to knock some sense into my father.
“Nonsense! You are my child! You are full of courage and you will protect the two girls with your life!” My dad said with much more tone than I had. Whatever he had said was ridiculous, something out of a king to prince talk way back in medieval times. “To add, people and animals won’t be aggressive unless you do something to provoke them.” My dad added calmly. He was a Psychiatrist, so I thought about trusting him with that statement, but we’re not going to encounter normal people. There’s going to be bears, murderers, and such. I don’t think that Alaska is such a bad place, it’s just that Alaska is… wild.
“Dad, you don’t have to drag him unto this. We can handle ourselves and we can hire someone to protect us. It’s only going to be a week.” My sister said. A week, that’s a problem. There’s no way dad would let her leave house by herself for a week. But he did.
“There is no problem as long as you bring your brother with you. We’ve been talking with your mom for quite some time and we came to a conclusion that you need some adventure in your life and what better place to experience adventure than the wild Alaska!” My father said with a huge grin. Dear god, I thought, I was going to faint right there and then.
My college life was getting better each day, but the trip to Alaska was going to ruin it. I couldn’t sleep that night. I was scared and frustrated at my sister for such a stupid preposition. But I didn’t hate her because somehow, I kind of wanted it. I knew that I could discover her better; know her better in our trip to Alaska.
“Hey.” A faint womanly voice came from my door. She stood leaning at the door frame, her eyes lost in the small amount of light in the room.
“What now? Aren’t you happy that your stupid trip is going to happen? God.” I said, frustrated with what happened during dinner.
“Sorry that I brought you into this. I can tell them that you don’t want to go.” She replied with a soft voice. She was adorable at that moment. I don’t know why, but I guess my friends were right; she does look like an angel. There was a lump in my throat; I didn’t know what to say for a few seconds. She just stood there staring at something, I didn’t know what.
“I…. Uhhh, its fine. I can go. I guess I need some of that adventure too.” I said and smiled weakly. She smiled back.
“Are you sure? You’re going to miss a lot.” She said.
“Hey, this might be the only chance we could be together, so why not?” I didn’t know why I said that but I did. We both smiled gleefully at each other that night.
It’s tough remembering someone who ceased to exist. To think of something that used to be there, that used to have an impact in your life. It’s hard to piece things back together especially when the pieces don’t want to be pieced up together in the first place.
We had to wake up early for the trip. I remember waking up at the crack of dawn and going to my sister’s room as she prepares. Mom and dad helped us too in their bathrobes. They were tired the night before and because of that, they looked like mindless zombies walking around the house; cooking breakfast and helping us carry our things into the car. They were tired and yet they still had the energy to drive us to the airport. That was something I was thankful about. They had their own flaws and they are hypocrites most of the time, but I can’t name a person’s parent who’s perfect and consistent with everything they say to their child. Parents had always been a guiding hand, not an idol meant to be followed.
That day was cold. The morning sky was gloomy, filled with pale clouds, ready to drop endless rain to the unsuspecting victims who live down below. During that day I thought of Alaska. When I was a kid I always wanted to go to Antarctica. I don’t know why, but Antarctica seems like the place I would enjoy living in. Well, that’s until I grew up and realized that it’s freezing hell in Antarctica. I used to think the weather would be as cold as much of the place I lived in, but I was a stupid kid, what do you expect? I still have the same dream though, going to Antarctica one day and experiencing the coldness and the numbness in my fingers for the first time in my life. But, we were going to Alaska, I guess that’s pretty close to what Antarctica is.
“Are you excited?” My sister said in a soft energized voice. I was trying to read a magazine written in foreign language, I never knew why they had that in an American plane.
“Not really, but I guess, yeah, kind of.” I said as I try to encode the words in the magazine. There were fancy pictures of Alaska.
“You’re going to like her.” My sister said with a grin in her face.
“Our guide. She’s friendly, fun, and most of all, beautiful. Just like me!” She giggled. I stopped looking at the magazine and leaned towards her.
“If this is one of your stupid plans about hooking me up with someone, then I regret going with you in the first place.” She had done that a couple of times and I hated each one of them. They were the most awkward moments in my life. Yeah, my sister knows a lot of beautiful, charming, girls, but it’s just weird that she introduces them out of nowhere. What I’m trying to say is that they were out of my reach, way out of my reach. I have no idea how she met them, but she has her ways.
“Oh no, it’s not one of those plans.” She said as she looks into the small window of the plane.
“What is it then? Alaska is a stupid place to go to.” I said, without wanting to. It’s weird how the brain lets you say anything you want.
“Remember your dream of going to Antarctica when you were a kid? I remember you telling me that.” She said to me as she stares at me with her mesmerizing eyes. I broke the stare by looking back at the magazine.
“Yeah, kinda. That was a stupid idea. You know it.” I said as I continue to view the magazine.
“No, I thought that it wasn’t such a bad idea. I liked the idea and I thought that I one day we could go there together.” She said with a smile.
“Antarctica? No way. It’s the same as Alaska, desolated, cold, dangerous, and wild. In one word, it’s deadly.” I said and there she faded out once again, her attention caught at something else. It’s very annoying because it seems like she never listened to me in the first place.
The entire time we were in the plane, we rarely talked. She would bring out her notebook and write down some notes, I just stared at some magazines. I remember having dozens of magazine and asking for more. Believe it or not they had magazines dated all the way back to the seventies. I asked for those too.
I always loved cold places. I love it when it rains, when its autumn or winter. Summer was secondary for me; I could never live in Florida, or anywhere in South East Asia. The heat, the humidity would ruin me, but Alaska? Antarctica? I would love to stay there for some time. I would like to live there at some point in my life.
We arrived at the Alaskan airport, it was it was somewhere in Anchorage. The place was pretty small for an airport; I guess I expected much from it. Once the front door opened to Anchorage, I felt the cold breeze for the first time. It wasn’t overwhelming as I expected it would be, it was a calm breeze, the same breeze you would feel when you’re in the beach, instead the breeze would be twice as cold.
“Hi Monica!” My sister shouted as she greeted our tour guide. She was red haired, with emerald shimmering eyes. I never knew people had such eye color, I thought at first that it was contacts, but it wasn’t. She was… yeah she was pretty. “This is my brother, Max!” My sister said with much enthusiasm. I extended my hand towards her and she shook it.
“Nice to meet you Max.” Monica said with a warm smile.
“Likewise.” I said, trying to look cool and civilized with a try hard smile. I was overwhelmed by her presence.
“Come on, I’ll take you guys for a ride.” Monica said with a cheerful smile.
Her car was Mercedes-Benz, I don’t know much about cars, but it looked brand new and it looked like the type of car that a government official would use. “I don’t have my driver around, so please, bear with my driving.” She said and my sister went on laughing. I fake laughed; I was scared when girls drive cars. I remember being with my mom in her first driving lesson, it didn’t turn out too well for me.
“Her parents are government officials here. Big time.” My sister whispered to me.
“Yeah, no shit.” I said.
“Hey watch your language!” She said punching my arm.
We drove through the city of Anchorage and into the main capital, Jeneau. In the outskirts of Jeneau was a resthouse that Monica’s parents own. Me and my sister were going to stay there for the duration of our little vacation. I was quiet for most of the trip, looking out into the window of the car, fascinated by the beauty of the landscape and the falling snow. My sister and Monica talked about their research project. Monica told me that my sister has potential, much potential in becoming one of the pioneers of modern Biology. My sister just laughed at the comment and looked at me.
There’s always something about the way people smile. When you see a smile, some kind of energy enters your veins, it pumps you up and before you know it, your heart starts beating faster and faster. You wonder why, but you know the reason doesn’t matter, as long as happiness is in the air and as long as the moment feels infinite then you know that makes the moment worth relishing, worth remembering and feeling over and over again. In that moment, in that single little moment in time makes life truly worth living. When my sister smiled and laughed at that comment and when she looked at me and smiled at me, I knew that the trip was going to be fine. No, it wasn’t just going to be fine, it was going to be a trip to remember.
The place we were going to stay was a mansion. Monica said that it wasn’t used for some time and we were free to do anything we want in it. She couldn’t stay with us at night since her parents didn’t trust us that much. I was disappointed but I kept that to myself.
The mansion reminded of me of our old house when I was still a kid. Yeah sure, the place we stayed in was two times bigger than our house before, but the design, the architecture was identical. When I walked around the place, I remember reminiscing about the days I was back in that old house. I remembered playing with my sister when I was five; I remembered her silhouette with the sun shining behind her, her good friendly innocent smile that could melt any heart. I remember her sharing her toys with me; I remembered the dolls she used to have and each of their names.
I remember clearly the first time she cried. We were thirteen and we had to give most of our toys away, toys with less sentimental value than others. I was able to distinguish easily which one I would keep and which ones I would give away. While for her, it took her time. She cried but not fiercely. She was not the type of kid who wouldn’t let go, she knows when to keep things and when to let them go, but that moment was different. She cried silently as each of her dolls was taken away in each box. I always wondered why she cried so much that day. The toys which held no sentimental value to me whatsoever was easy to give away. For her, it took a tear for each one of her dolls. For her, there was value in each and one of them; it was as if each doll had a life of its own.
“They’re going to live in a better place, sweetie. Don’t worry.” My mom said to comfort her. My sister said nothing; she simply wiped her tears and smiled at mom. But I knew she was not confident with what mom said to her. She’s too smart for that and in the first night we had together in that mansion, I asked her, if she was truly confident in each one of us.
The first night we spent together went off like a blast. I didn’t know where we got so much energy, but we chased each other around in our sleeping wear like little kids. I guess it was the adrenaline from the different wines we tested. Monica told us that we could try them out and we did, out of sheer curiosity. We chased each other to discover more about the house and to discover more about each other. We did that for a couple of hours until we got tired and felt sleepy. We found our way into the mansion’s balcony. The moon shone brightly that night. It was the first time that I saw a moon that was full and bright, shining like it was the sun.
“You know, I don’t really like the moon.” I said, half drunk.
“Why is that?” My sister asked and giggled.
“It’s like… you know, it feels like it’s the sun. It assumes like it’s the sun. But it’s not.” I said. I was half drunk and it felt right but it was clear that the alcohol was getting to the way I think. My sister laughed really hard and even though I was confused as to why she would laugh to my amazing statement about the moon (mostly because I was clearly drunk), I laughed alongside with her, because it felt right.
“Stupidest thing I’ve heard.” She said, smiling at me, her cheeks flaring red.
“What? No way…” I said. I was getting drunk. We were on our third bottle.
“The moon doesn’t assume that.” She said to me as she looks at the moon up above us.
“Okay then! Why don’t you explain, you genius!” I said.
“Because, genius, the moon knows that it’s part of the sun, that without the sun, it won’t exist. So the moon knows that it can’t be the sun, rather, it’s the counterpart of it.” She paused. She pointed at her and me. “Like you and me. Like men and women, they know that they can’t be the same with the other, so instead of arguing whose better, they start to complete each other.”
I paused and took what she said all in. I looked at her and smiled. I’ve been looking at things the wrong way. “But now a man can be woman and a woman can be a man.” I said to her.
“That’s not the point. The point is that, like the moon and the sun, they need each other to survive, to exist. It didn’t matter who the moon and the sun is. The same way as who’s taking the role of a man and a woman, it doesn’t matter who the man or the woman is, it doesn’t matter what kind of role or persona they play in society, what matters is that, they complete each other, because when one cease to exist, the other would cease to exist, too.” She smiled at me cheerfully, her cheeks still red from the all the alcohol. I looked at her and she looked at me for a moment. Then I stared back at the moon with a smile.
“The first time I saw you cry was when you gave your little dollies away.” I gave a thoughtful pause then looked deep into her eyes. “When mom told you that they were going to a better place, you smiled and you stopped crying. Did you actually believe what she told you? Do you trust other people that much? I know you’re too smart for that.” I said. She thought about it for a while and then she gave out a weak smile.
“I don’t have trust in them. I have faith in them.” She said. “When you trust people, you have to have a certain factor, an overall assumption of the person, knowing that he or she is trustworthy. In my situation before, I could never have the chance to meet the person to whom my dolls will go to. So I had to blindly trust them, without any factor, without any assumption to believe that they are trustworthy. I had to have faith in them and that they would take care of my dolls like I did. I think that people should have faith more, rather than trust.” She said to me, her eyes shimmering under the moonlight.
“People would always have their hearts broken if that happens.” I said with determination.
“Ah yes, but we never really have trust do we? All we have is faith. We all have it within us, but our judgmental nature kicks in. We have experienced too much to blindly trust others. Trust, is a self-defense mechanism that we invented ourselves through our years of experience. But one day, we meet that one person that we know we cannot trust. Even though we know that we can’t trust the person, we put faith in him or her, hoping for the best. The same faith we give to God is the same faith we give to each other, it is the same faith we give to humankind.” She said.
There was sense in her words. Trust was something that we invented ourselves, a judging factor, and a self-defense mechanism that we created because of the experiences we encountered throughout our lives. Faith however, was something that we had in the very beginning. It was something that we had when we were born, when we were children. We didn’t trust our parents or caregivers, we put our faith in them, and we didn’t know for sure that they’re going to protect us or if they’re going to destroy us, but all we had is faith and that was enough to keep us living.
“So what is it you have with me? Faith or trust?” I asked her. She leaned closer to me and touched my chest; I felt her warm hand in my heart.