I was watching TV when I heard the crash. Knowing what happened, I sighed, but I didn’t leave my room. I waited for the show to end. Politeness. When I did leave, I went into the kitchen.
I found shards of an aqua-blue painted mug on the floor. Hovering over the mess was Patricia. I swore under my breath.
“I’m sorry,” she mumbled.
“Go, Patty,” I said.
“I’m sorry,” she left the kitchen as I grabbed a nearby broom and dustpan to clean up the mess my older, mentally handicapped (retarded is crueler, politically incorrect) sister made. Six years apart in age, I always thought I was the older one, yet I never knew what’s it like to be trapped in the sense of you can’t be like everyone else. By God’s unbreakable will, you’ve given the intelligence of a three-year-old. That’s Patty. She wanted to be like everyone else, but doesn’t have the capability to do be. The shards told me that.
I sometime wondered why they are mentally retarded people in the world. Pardon me if you think I’m a supporter of eugenics. I’m not. I dare not think it. The only answer is probably humanity needs flaws, warts on the butt cheeks, so that we can be a little nice and civil towards each other. Patience. I didn’t knew if I could have that at the time when I was growing up, wishing about what could have been. I wish I had a big, normal brother, who helped me with life and be more understanding than my father. It’s not easy being a middle child, let alone the only son, in the family, who doesn’t “act like a man”. I’m not gay, mind you. Just thoughtful and reflective.
But what about Patty? A twisted version of Peter Pan, who didn’t ask to be this way. A lover of food-especially cheese, bread and milk-when someone “raids” the fridge.
An illiterate when looking at a newspaper or a magazine; the photographs fascinated her. If I told her the ugly truth about her idol, the pop singer Michael Jackson, whose hit single, “Beat It” was on the tip of her tongue-but just the title-she wouldn’t care. She “loves” him. Patty was also a giggler. What was in her mind that made her chortle will forever remain a mystery.
She was a pain in the ass, too. Sitting on the commode and never getting up (unless she wants to) was a common habit. Two reasons were excretory and her menstrual cycle. The latter seemed eternal, because the sight on blood-stained maxi-pads was common, gross and weird. Especially weird when a person’s body keeps growing but their mindset is forever stuck. My mother and younger sister sometimes had the thankless, unfortunate task of helping Patty with maintaining her hygiene. I didn’t have a strong sense of patience as they did. Guess I saw her as an ubiquitous, undeviating ball-and-chain, punishment for a sin I had in a past life. Who needs religion to keep you on a high, moral ground?
And she was stubborn and sneaky. If it was time to eat, Patty refused to. If you force her to, she’d eat slow and throw away the rest in the kitchen’s garbage pail when no one was around. If she wasn’t quick, I would devour her dinner, but devour with sorrow, since she was skinny as a twig. Mom had to get prescription medicine so Patty could liv longer. The mean side of me wanted my older sister to die.
Naturally, of course.
Patty often placed a current newspaper on the pile of old, read newspapers, making the search of an important news article into a treasure hunt for the rest of the family. Patty did that with other items, including an envelope containing my birthday money when I turned ten. Maybe there was some deep, hidden animosity and jealously from her towards me because I wasn’t like her. Kids used to think I was mentally retarded, and they mocked me. I tattle-taled and got punch-drunk. Was I defending myself from being “trapped” ? Yes. Was I insecure about having a relative who had a IQ of 12 and asked for “juice” and “what’s your name?”? I guess so. Was I defending my sister? Maybe.
After cleaning up the shards and dumping them in the garbage pail, I went back to my bedroom, turned off the TV and went to bed. I wasn’t sleepy, though. I started to read some chapters of a library-owned copy of “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac. When I read the prose, I was jealous, wishing I was Kerouac, traveling across America without a damn in the world and writing down my adventures. Love and responsibility kept me away from that. They are chains unbreakable.
I heard Patty mumble to herself. A sigh left my lips, and I left my bed and room. I found Patty in the living room.
“Time for bed, Patty,” I tapped her right shoulder.
“I wanna go to the bathroom.”
“Just go. Please.”
“Kiss,” she shoved her lips towards me.
I shook my head, not wanting to kiss any of her acne-coated cheeks, but I gave a kiss on her cheek, escorted to her bed and was grateful we had two bathrooms in the house.