Hattie always loved dressing up. Her closet was filled with dresses, skirts, sparkles, glitter. Her ballet tutu is still hanging from the back of our door, pink and frilly. Unlike the rest of my siblings, I’ve never been very athletic.
I take the bus home. When I open the door, I realize nobody else is here. On Hattie’s nightstand, there’s still the journal she used to write in every day. It’s pink, covered in glitter and sequins, shut loosely with a silver lock. I never knew where she kept the key. Instead of minding my business, I break into it.
About six years ago, Eloise told me humans only have five layers of skin, and the last one is purple. I’m ashamed to say I believed that up until a couple years ago. I used to be so afraid of cutting or scraping myself, and I’d never dare pick a scab, just in case I ran out of skin. When I was younger, it was a legitimate fear. It sounds ridiculous, now.
Hattie’s journal is filled with doodles, her writing boxy and asymmetrical. Still, at eight years old, her printing was better than mine is now. My sister has a line up of journals, one from every year since the age of six. That isn’t many. I feel guilty looking through them. If she were here, I’m sure this line up would have expanded, by a lot. Today, says the page I’ve opened to, Lauren told me what a lezbean is. It’s a girl who likes girls. I think girls are pretty, but I’m not a lezbean, all my frends are boys!!
I knew my sister liked girls. She’d confided in me one night, about a week before her disappearance, back when I still had no idea it was possible for girls to like each other. I haven’t learned much since then. My mother and sister always said it was a choice to be straight or gay. I used to think that was true. Really, I didn’t know anything else. But I knew Hattie was miserable with herself because of it. I always sort of wondered how she figured it out so quickly.
Near the back of the journal, I see my name. It’s a story of when she and I went swimming, and I was too afraid to ride the waterslide. I’d stood at the top with a hand in my mouth, watching people slide down, stepping forward and then backward again. In the end, Hattie had to promise she’d wait for me at the bottom, and I finally put that fear behind me.
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