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Us, The Girls

“Us, The Girls” is a flash nonfiction prose piece exploring the complexities of sisterhood, my relationship to which has been based in familial obligation, close proximity, frustration, and unabiding love. It is for anyone finally recognizing the power of a bond they might have previously taken for granted.

You so blue-eyed and wild in your own way. In a quiet way that surfaces in the moments you are so excited your words bleed together and I’m reminded of how I used to translate for you when we were kids, the defensive tilt my voice took when adults demanded you slow down.

We so volatile yet so similar. Quick to pounce at each other’s throats and laugh at each other’s tears. Me eager to leave you behind just as you try to follow, so we spend our childhood behind slamming doors and biting remarks and stolen shirts we hope the other won’t notice.

Me the extrovert and you I don’t understand. Weekend nights at home, peace with no plan but a book. I say I’m worried but really I’m confused because I can’t fathom teenhood without late-night-driving stolen-beer-drinking attention. I spend most nights of high school crying and I realize maybe you’ve figured something out I didn’t. Maybe you’ve made friends in some way I should have.

Us the heartbroken. We hide in beds across the hall with doors only partly closed, not because we want the other to hear but because we know the other wouldn’t want not to. It’s me and at first the feeling is new because loss has been nothing more than the death of a pet or a favorite novel that ended poorly. Next it’s you and so I crawl under shared covers. We share that pain as we mourn how special it was to have opened up to someone so completely. As we dry our eyes and realize first love is a beautiful thing to have experienced so young. As we realize first love is just the beginning. As we realize we are beautiful.

We follow each other further and further from home. Across the world, across the country, we push each other. You exceed me in distance and I wave as you pass by. Us the adventurers, or so they call us in the small town we left. We are known as wild.

Together we’re the girls and always will be. Our parents’ daughters, our brother’s sisters. I used to hate matching pajama sets but then we separate and I miss the assumed jointness of our identities so I propose we get the same tattoo. Red clovers. Reminiscent of our home. The afternoons we had nothing to do but lay in the grass.

I’m sometimes told my eyes are a deep blue. I say: You should see my sister’s.

Susanna Penfield is recent graduate of Colorado College, where she received a dual degree in Political Science and Feminist and Gender Studies, and current AmeriCorps VISTA based in Washington, DC. Her writing has appeared in local publications, literary blogs, national anthologies and academic journals, including Issue No. 1 of The Abstract Elephant Magazine

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