Never said, p.1

Never Said, page 1

 

Never Said
slower 1  faster

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font   Night Mode Off   Night Mode

Never Said


  BLINK

  Never Said

  Copyright © 2015 by Carol Lynch Williams

  Requests for information should be addressed to:

  Blink, 3900 Sparks Dr. SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49546

  ePub Edition © July 2015: ISBN 978-0-310-74660-7

  Any Internet addresses (websites, blogs, etc.) and telephone numbers in this book are offered as a resource. They are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement by the publisher, nor does the publisher vouch for the content of these sites and numbers for the life of this book.

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means — electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other — except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.

  Blink is a trademark of The Zondervan Corporation.

  Cover design: Brand Navigation

  Interior design: Denise Froehlich

  15 16 17 18 19 20 21 /DCI/ 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  For LuAnn

  Contents

  Annie

  Annie

  Sarah

  Monday

  Sarah

  Annie

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Annie

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Annie

  Sarah

  Annie

  Sarah

  Annie

  Tuesday

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Annie

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Annie

  Annie

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Annie

  Annie

  Annie

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Annie

  Annie

  Annie

  Annie

  Annie

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Annie

  Sarah

  Annie

  Sarah

  Annie

  Annie

  Annie

  Annie

  Annie

  Sarah

  Annie

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Annie

  Sarah

  Annie

  Annie

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Annie

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Annie

  Annie

  Sarah

  Annie

  Annie

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Annie

  Sarah

  Annie

  Annie

  Wednesday

  Sarah

  Annie

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Annie

  Annie

  Annie

  Annie

  Annie

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Annie

  Sarah

  Annie

  Sarah

  Thursday

  Sarah

  Annie

  Sarah

  Annie

  Annie

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Annie

  Sarah

  Annie

  Annie

  Annie

  Annie

  Sarah

  Annie

  Annie

  Annie

  Sarah

  Annie

  Sarah

  Annie

  Annie

  Sarah

  Friday

  Sarah

  Annie

  Annie

  Sarah

  Annie

  Annie

  Sarah

  Saturday

  Sarah

  Annie

  Sarah

  Sunday

  Sarah

  Sarah

  Sarah

  annie

  If

  they

  knew.

  annie

  At the foot of my bed

  is the nightmare.

  A silhouette

  watching waiting

  for me.

  sarah

  Here’s how it ended.

  “Sarah, we’re too serious.”

  It was late. After dusk. This past October, when the skies teemed with snow clouds and we wondered if this would be a bad winter.

  I couldn’t see the stars. Words caught in my throat. Stuck there. Garret’s words had pinned them.

  “What do you mean?”

  He stood next to me but I almost couldn’t see him. Just his outline. A silhouette.

  He held my hand, his fingers loose. “We have to make room for other people,” he said, and for a moment I wondered if I was dreaming. The wind blew, and I felt chilled through, like the air touched my bones. The parts of me that had slipped away when I became comfortable with Garret dropped onto my shoulders one by one. I wanted to run, get away. Not listen.

  “What are you saying?” I asked. “I don’t understand.”

  Garret straightened. I looked up at him. His features weren’t clear in the darkness, but I’d memorized the green eyes, the blond color of his hair, that smile.

  He didn’t smile now, though. “We need a break. We need to see if we’re right for each other.” The words flowed from him like they were someone else’s.

  It was too much pressure, he said.

  (Did he mean I was too much pressure? That we together were? That we didn’t work, though I was sure, was positive, we did? How could his words shake me up so?)

  His mother was always on his back, he said.

  He had to date other people, he said.

  And that was that.

  After more than eighteen months of being together, of being a couple. After I gave my heart to him. Nearly everything I had. After all that, he decided to look elsewhere.

  monday

  sarah

  I saw it, Annie.” Mom’s talking. Intent.

  They’ve waited on dinner for me, and I slip into my chair, late.

  Annie doesn’t answer our mother. She fills her plate. Careful. Making sure nothing touches on the china. Neat compartments.

  “Annie?”

  “Mom?”

  Dad looks at them from the end of the table. Every night, Mom sets out a meal like this. She used to run her own catering business and, as she says, “A pretty table is in my blood.”

  I dish the roast beef and onions and potatoes out. The aroma of the food swirls around in the air. “What’s going on?” I ask.

  Dad shrugs. “Girl things, Sarah,” he says.

  I raise my eyebrows at him. ”Uh, Dad?”

  Then he winks. Oh. Those girl things. I go silent.

  Mom folds her napkin. “Annie was invited to sit as a judge on a Junior League beauty contest.”

  Annie and Mom. For two people so similar, their expressions are opposite. One face blank. The other animated.

  “She opened my mail,” Annie says to me.

  “Oh.”

  “I suggested,” Mom says, “she drop a few pounds in preparation.” Mom stirs butter into the potatoes. “I think she should do it. Be an example to these young girls.”

  I glance at Annie, who stares toward the fireplace. There’s a snap of burning logs, and sparks slip up the chimney.

  Dad says, “Are you kidd
ing? What an honor. You were the best, now weren’t you, Annie?”

  My sister.

  The talented one. With all the promise in the world. Now she’s the silent one.

  My sister is heavy. She looks different than Before. That’s what fat does to you. Her hair isn’t blonde like it was. She’s traded pageant dresses for sweats, but she’s still beautiful. She has the same perfect, creamy skin. Her eyes sparkle. Her teeth are perfect. When she smiles, you know she means it.

  But Annie’s not smiling now.

  “Did you hear me?” Mom says. “It’s not for two more months, not till April fifteenth.”

  “Tax day,” Dad says, and his phone, sitting on the table next to his wine glass, buzzes.

  “You could drop a few pounds by then.” Mom takes a breath. “Maybe participate again.”

  Annie doesn’t seem to notice our mother. But I see her flinch and it’s like I flinch too.

  Twins. Twins are supposed to feel the same. Look the same. Are supposed to be the same. Right?

  If she won’t speak, I can. I get not wanting to do something even if you’re the best. Mom has to know things have changed. For Annie. For all of us.

  I draw in a breath. “Mom?” I say when Annie stays quiet. I jab at a raw spinach leaf. I’m annoyed. At Annie for staying quiet. At Mom for saying these stupid things. At Dad for getting on his phone. He’s talking to someone. There’s an almost-smile on his lips. “Mom, Annie gave that up. Remember?”

  Mom’s surprised. Like Annie hasn’t said she’s not interested in the pageant world a hundred times over the last few months. “What do you mean, Sarah? That Annie won’t judge? That she’ll never be a part of that again?”

  Dad excuses himself and strides over to the fire. “Jim, good to hear from you!”

  I can do this. “Well,” I say, but Mom stares away from me, that napkin of hers clenched in her fist. I can’t drag in enough air to satisfy this fight. So I think the words.

  You are so impossible lately, Mom. And Dad is too absent. And Annie, you . . . you’re doing nothing but eating.

  It’s true. Right now she’s eating in slow, perfect, exact movements.

  The whole family is strained. Stretched at the edges. The stitching hanging loose. It’s been this way for ages now. Since the Weight.

  Dad doesn’t finish his plate. Doesn’t look over at us, he’s that engaged with Jim.

  When I say, “Come on, Mom,” my voice comes out whispery. Taut. “You don’t need to suggest diets. Annie’s a big girl.”

  Wait. I didn’t mean that. Big is the wrong thing to say. I feel my face color.

  Dad gives everyone a thumbs-up. He comes back to the table. “Gotta work,” he says. As he turns toward the other end of the house, where his home office is, I hear, “Don’t forget we’re having that party here Saturday night.”

  Oh. That.

  Great.

  annie

  A tradition we

  have kept

  my whole life

  whether all of us have

  wanted to or

  not — is

  these (now) insane mealtimes

  together.

  Consistency

  Soldiers our family. Makes

  Us do what we should

  What we’re told

  Family time

  Family dinner

  Family parties

  Meals are a joke.

  No one listens to anyone.

  We all talk — except Sarah — and not one of us

  hears.

  Sometimes

  when I look around at us

  sitting together,

  see who we’ve become,

  I’m surprised that

  notthatlongago

  we

  were related: a family. Happy.

  Now

  we

  are separates.

  Mismatched.

  More family moments

  my father insists on,

  demands

  are the parties.

  I used to love them.

  Mom developed the menu,

  Sarah practiced violin all over the house (when there was no one near)

  I went with Dad to order flowers

  and send out invitations

  (nothing Internet —

  just old-fashioned mail).

  Yes, I used to love them.

  Sarah, though,

  has hated it all

  since the beginning.

  Hates the show we put on

  hates serving

  appetizers,

  speaking to strangers

  (she has a hard enough time

  speaking out

  communicating

  talking

  to us).

  Now —

  I agree with my sister.

  Fat and thin.

  Night and day.

  Angry and silent.

  Let’s drop the show we put on for everyone.

  None of us are who we say we are.

  sarah

  At the table, I wonder: Would I be different if I could talk to strangers without wanting to throw up, could stand at a microphone and not feel like I was having a heart attack, could remember public events (like school and office parties and church) without an anxiety attack?

  Would I be different if I hadn’t broken up with Garret King?

  Yes, it was two months ago. Yes, young love doesn’t matter, isn’t real. But I still feel raw, still feel pain, still feel awful.

  Would I be different if my parents thought more of me (the ugly duckling) and less of Annie (who was so lovely that adult men gasped)?

  ”I think . . .” I have to clear my throat.

  Would this be different?

  What if they looked at us like equals?

  “I think . . .” I say. But there are no more words. I glance up from my plate in time to see Dad sort of smile at my sister as he leaves. It’s fake, that smile. One I have seen aimed at me, at Mom, at people he tolerates. I swallow, but nothing wants to go down.

  Annie stares at me. She raises an eyebrow, and I’m not sure of the code. What’s she saying? Before I can figure it out, Mom says, “I told them yes, Annie. That you’d do it.”

  My sister? No response. She just eats.

  sarah

  Dad’s left his plate and coffee cup on the table. Mom seems so . . . alone.

  I’m startled by her expression.

  “Remember,” she says, like she doesn’t notice her husband leaving when I can see she does, “when you would pageant? Do you remember that, Annie? You would be such an inspiration for the youngsters.”

  Annie nods. “That was only last year, Mom,” she says. “Of course I remember.” The heat kicks on. I breathe in deep and smell the homemade rolls. “No one forgets the pageants. Do we, Sarah?”

  I shake my head, hiding behind hair that corkscrews over my shoulder. Does my sister know how I felt about all that Annie Time? All the Winning Time? The Stand-on-the-Stage-and-Accept-the-Trophy time? I had hoped I’d hidden that. “I remember,” I say. “You never lost.”

  My sister looks surprised. Why? Because I know her history? Or because I speak of it?

  “She’s right,” Mom says. “You never lost, Annie.” Mom leans forward, hands clasped. “Think of those little girls, all dressed up.”

  “Mom,” Annie says.

  The chandelier is too bright.

  “Glad I don’t have to do that,” I say.

  “Speak up, please, Sarah,” Mom says. “Not to yourself. To everyone.”

  I don’t have the energy to get into it now. There’s too much tension. I tighten my lips like they’re sewn together.

  Annie won’t participate in the judging. I know it. Mom should too.

  “No, thanks,” I say, answering Mom, but she’s focused on Annie.

  Maybe Mom does know the answer.

  Here’s a truth: Before.

  Before, I was terrified our Mom might force me
to pageant. Believe me, there are lots of good things about being a normal-looking girl. Nothing on me is exquisite. No almond-shaped eyes. No heart-shaped face. No natural highlights.

  Green eyes. Flat chest. Short.

  Plain.

  My looks kept me in the audience. Away from the stage.

  Thank goodness. Oh, thank goodness.

  Still, I close my eyes, remembering. Sorry. I was jealous of all the attention my sister got. It takes effort to admit this to myself. It’s embarrassing. But I was jealous of being so lost. So left behind.

  Now I glance up at Mom and Annie.

  “I don’t understand,” Mom’s saying.

  Annie’s done with her first helping, her plate almost spotless. That nursery rhyme pops in my head, the one about Jack Spratt. “. . . and so betwixt the two of them, they licked the platter clean.” She reaches for more Jell-O with carrots. Stares at Mom as she spoons some onto her plate.

  How can she stand it? This weight talk? I would leave, eat alone, never sit with anyone. Not even my family.

  “Have you ever thought your constant jabber may be why I keep eating?” Annie says.

  Everything in the room slows. The clock, our breathing, the beating of our hearts. It all seems to stop and wait for Mom to answer. These rhythms beat out of time.

  I can see Annie and me in the French doors, broken into pieces by the panes of glass.

  “How dare you? I am not the reason for your bad decision making.” Mom huffs then glares at me, me, like I’m the problem. “I don’t know when you became so unkind.” Like I just hurt her feelings. Or gained the weight.

  annie

  If you eat

  long enough

  hard enough

  more than enough

  you can do what needs to be done.

  At first I didn’t

  realize.

  I ate

  because creamy chocolate

  gooey caramel

  salted, buttery popcorn

  made me feel

  better.

  A few pounds a few pounds more

  and

  I am in control.

  sarah

  That’s when it started. The changing. All of us. Changing.

  With Annie’s weight gain came Dad staying away and Mom talking too much.

  Before was different.

  Before, we always did Annie Family Stuff.

 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Scroll

Comments 0