A story about the life in one year of a woman and her sister.
Crossing a river in a dream means that you will experience a range of emotions while going through a change. When I dreamt of crossing a river, it was always with you. On those days I would always wake up crying. In the mornings I would light a candle for you and have a drink in silence. It was in the silence that I would remember and miss you more than ever. Who knew a year could change so many things.
I remembered the day you called me so excited, gushing about a new guy. I remembered it well because it was the happiest you’d been in quite awhile.
“He’s wonderful!” you said. “You have to meet him. This weekend actually!”
I laughed. “Okay. How’s Saturday?”
“Great!” you were so thrilled and excited. I couldn’t bear to see you unhappy again.
That weekend we had fun. We went to the bar and had a good time. The rest of the summer flew by. You were so happy. I thought your sadness had finally abated. We were inseparable that summer. Just like when we were kids, spending every weekend doing crazy things. Running through the river because we felt like it. Chasing things no one else could see. I was too indulgent with you. I would have done anything to keep you happy.
When you started drinking more and more I turned a blind eye. ‘Anything to keep her happy,’ I’d tell myself. When you’d call me in the middle of the night because you had lost your keys or you were too drunk to drive I’d justify your behavior by telling myself, ‘Well, at least she called.’
I remember the day in August when we went to the park and I saw the purple bruises on your wrists. You laughed it off and said you were just playing too rough in bed. I laughed with you then followed you into the river to the field on the other side. I guess I should have spoke up when I saw that hollow look in your eyes. But I ignored it, believing you were happy.
College started again in the fall and you made excuses to me why you couldn’t go back this semester. You promised you’d go back for the winter term. I was busy with work and school but I’d call you to check in. That’s when you started making excuses as to why we couldn’t get together. ‘Next week.’ You’d swear. Even when I could hear the hollowness in your voice, I turned a blind eye again.
I remember vividly the night at the end of October when you called me crying. ‘Please come get me.’ You pleaded. I asked what was wrong and you just made me promise to come. I promised and was out the door in a matter of minutes. In my heart I let the horrible truth beat me up inside. When you screamed and the line went dead I immediately called the police. I was still twenty minutes away. I hoped they’d get there sooner.
When I got there, they were ushering him into the back of a police car. I got out and ran towards the house. I was stopped by a cop and told I couldn’t go into the house; it was a secure crime scene. That’s when they wheeled you out of the house on a gurney, zipped into a black bag. I didn’t believe it; I collapsed into hysterics then and there.
The next couple of months were a blur. I didn’t realize I was drinking too much until the night I’d drank an entire bottle of tequila by myself and wanted more. I dropped out of school. I went to work, but I was like a zombie. Every time anyone asked if I was okay, I’d ignore them or make a stupid comment like ‘I just lost my sister and best friend. What do you think?’ then I’d walk away. Eventually I had pushed everyone away. No one called or came over anymore. I’d sit by your grave, in the snow, and drink a six pack before driving home and drinking another.
I started partying every night. I was drinking people twice my size under the table in no time. But it wasn’t enough to take the pain away. I started trying different drugs and doing anything I had to do to get them. I got fired, evicted and the DA said I wasn’t a reliable witness anymore because of my drinking.
I moved into my dealer’s basement and sold myself for drugs and alcohol. They let him out of jail and called it self¬ defense because no one could prove it wasn’t. I went out and closed the bar that night then tried to drive myself home. I got pulled over and ended up in jail. I took a deal and was sent to rehab instead of jail. It took forty-five days but I was clean and planned to stay that way.
I got a job at the dry cleaners, and an apartment. It was only a couple of weeks before I realized that I was depressed. Without the alcohol and drugs I wasn’t numb. I had to feel the pain that had been eating away at me for the past six months since you died. I had a huge hole in my heart and I filled it with guilt and anger. If I hadn’t ignored it all and spoke up, you’d still be here with me. I started drinking again.
I woke up the morning of my birthday in a fog. I’d gotten drunk the night before. It wasn’t fair that I got another year older and you never would. I drank the rest of the day. Somewhere around eleven thirty or so that night I drove myself to the park we always went to, drink in hand. I stood up on the hill overlooking the river and drank what was left of my tequila.
Then I saw you, standing in the field on the other side, beckoning me towards you. You were a little girl again, ringlets in your hair. I ran to meet you. I fell down the hill, into the river, and hit my head on a rock.
As I climbed up the other side of the bank, you pulled me to my feet and we dusted off our dresses. Holding hands we ran off into the field while my body was carried off by the current.