Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction
Emma LouiseEmma Louise wasn’t what you would call an average little girl. She was smart. She was funny. Just like any other little girl. But she was a miracle. Right from the moment she was born, she was special; and she was my big sister.
We didn’t have the worst childhood and sometimes and to some people we didn’t have the best either. I’m quite sure that there was no one that wanted to change places with me, but from my point of view, I had the best big sister that anyone could have wanted. Of course we had times when we hated each other, just like any other pair of siblings. It wasn’t just the two of us. We had a brother as well, Sean. He was the oldest; and the only boy. Every time our mother got pregnant, she would ask Sean what he wanted. At first, with Emma, he responded with ‘A brother!’ and of course was disappointed when she was clearly not a boy, but loved her with all his heart, just as any big brother would. Five years later when our mother was pregnant with me he responded with ‘A boy please. I would like a brother.’ And of course when I was born, not being a boy, Sean refused to speak to my mother, but he loved and doted on me just like he had Emma. A year and a half later when the youngest was to be born our mother asked again what Sean would like, he responded with ‘A robot! Then it can’t be a girl!’ Of course when Charlotte was born, getting neither a boy nor a robot, Sean was extremely disappointed. He didn’t speak to our mother for three weeks. Being the big brother he looked after, loved and doted on all of his little sisters. He even shortened Charlotte to Charly.
As I said, Emma was the best big sister that anyone could have wanted. Usually Charlotte would be sitting on the floor playing with her dolls or her tea sets, no matter what Charlotte was doing, Emma would always join in. If Charlotte handed Emma an empty plate saying it was a huge slice of chocolate cake, Emma would dutifully gobble it up before Charlotte could blink. If Charlotte handed Emma a doll wrapped in a blanket, telling her that it was her baby and to shhhh because it was sleeping, Emma would gently rock the baby and whisper until Charlotte took the baby away to be changed.
After we had all started school nothing much really changed with the way we treated one another. Of course life had changed around us. Sean and Emma’s father had remarried and had another little child, a girl, much to Sean’s dismay. Their father barely made contact. My father on the other hand, as soon as he met Sean and Emma he always looked to them, and loved them as his own. When he and my mother split up, for reasons that I wouldn’t understand until I was in my twenties, he continued to see Emma and Sean. He stayed a part of their lives.
Just like any other family we got up to all sorts of mischief and fun together. I remember one day during school holidays when we were coped up in the house with nothing to do Sean took us all out the back and got us to start digging a cubby house. While we were digging away at this hole we planned out this cubby house. We were going to get a carpet to put over the earth floor and hang some pictures on the walls. We didn’t plan anything to do in the cubby house or a secret handshake to get in like other kids may have. We didn’t need to. This was going to be our cubby house, the four of us. We never finished it. We had a hole in the back yard that was about a metre in diameter and about the same depth for about a month. School had started back up again. The next time Charlotte and I went out there to do some more work on our cubby house the hole had been filled in. That was ok, we didn’t mind. We still had each other and that was all that mattered. Even though most people thought of Sean and Emma as our half-brother and sister, we never thought of it that way. It never felt that way either. Sean and Emma were our brother and sister. That was it. That was all we needed.
Emma liked to do puzzles and she didn’t mind that I would come along and help her without being asked. She wouldn’t mind that I would sit there with her for the next two hours. She taught me, if you want to do a puzzle quickly, you should always start with the edge pieces. Whenever Emma and I did a puzzle together we would spend the first half hour sorting the edge pieces from the rest. We always talked while we did this. Not about anything important or even anything in particular. We just talked. Some of the best memories I have of Emma was doing puzzles and talking with her.
Emma and I went to the same high school and even though she was in year twelve and I was in year eight, she had her friends and I had mine, she always found time to say hello to me at the beginning of the day and I would give her a hug and say goodbye at the end of the day. She would tell me where she was going to be for the day just in case I needed her. I only ever went to find her once, but it was comforting to know that she was there.
For a while after high school when Emma was moving on with her life and I with mine it seemed as though we only saw each other at birthdays and Christmas but nothing changed between us. We could still talk as though we had only seen each other yesterday. We would still make fun of each other knowing that we were joking. Emma’s message on her answering machine was a line from Disney’s The Lion King. “You are a baboon and I’m not.” That was it. No leave a message or your number, just an insult. Whenever I rang and got her answering machine, I would always say a line from the same movie before leaving a message. “I’m not going in there! What? You want me coming out looking like you? Cactus butt?!” Whenever Emma and I saw each other, somehow that line ended up in the conversation.
One of the last times I spent with Emma, out of twenty years of memories, is my favourite. It was New Year’s Eve. Emma had invited me over to spend it with her and her fiancé. We didn’t throw a big party or have 20 other people there. It was just us. We made cocktails, well I did. I made Emma’s twice as strong as mine and we played Monopoly while listening to music. Because we were already drunk, Thomas decided he had better make dinner. That was the best steak and eggs I have ever eaten. And we continued to talk and laugh and make fun of each other. There were spaces of about ten minutes where I’m sure if you had walked past the house all you could have heard was laughing. It was the best New Year’s Eve ever.
I didn’t realise until after Emma had passed just how many lives she had been a part of, that she had made better by just being there. Emma really was special.
Emma Louise wasn’t what you would call an average little girl. She was smart. She was funny. Just like any other girl. But she was a miracle. Right from the moment she was born, she was special; she was my big sister. And my best friend.
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