Sport 33: Spring 2005
My sister Rebecca has lost weight. We noticed it the day she came to visit. She took off her coat and the gap between coat and chest, and arm and sleeve let through a lot of light. My god, said my other sister, the one with depressive problems, you've lost a lot of weight, girl. Rebecca laughed it off. She said she wasn't trying to. Then she ambled to the fridge and got out the milk for tea. Me and my other sister, the depressive one, surreptiously watched her as she did this, and yes, another sign. Her upper legs were separated, like they were two banks of a river of air, and never the twain shall meet. My other sister pointed at this and gaped at me as if to say, 'The gall of her! Her and her bony legs!' She said, 'You are bones, girl', and started to do an impression of Quasimodo, sucking her cheeks in till her mouth puckered like a goldfish, and sinking her neck into her chest like a deflating balloon. She stalked about the kitchen like this for a while, making alarmed eyes at us. Rebecca kept calm, and poured milk into Arcoroc cups, waiting for the jug to boil. You could tell she wanted to laugh, but was fighting it. She looked like she was chewing grass, the way she was fighting the laughter. Finally she said, 'What has Quasimodo got to do with losing a bit of baby fat?' Our depressive sister straightened up and shrugged. 'Tragedy,' she said, 'has many for m s.'
Later on, me, my sister and Bones are at a café, the one decent one in our home town, and we're flicking through magazines and talking about our lives. Rebecca isn't Rebecca anymore, she's 'Bones'. The new name has cemented itself in the day. My other sister, the depressive one, is finishing a long tirade about her situation, how pointless it is and how she wishes she could turn back time to when she was eighteen and say to herself, 'Don't go to that party and talk to that flaky woman about acting', because that was the catalyst for her current malaise, that was the point where her life swerved into some pointless avenue and stalled. She's pretty creative, my depressive page 131sister, but sensible with it, yet at that moment when she said, 'I wish I could go back', you saw in her eyes that she was truly hoping someone would quickly discover a safe means of time travel so she could travel back to herself and have a heart to heart. She's staring at me and Bones at this point, pleading almost: 'Please if there's a way you know to go back, tell me now. You're both older than me, and it's possible I've missed some new development.' I'm compelled to comfort her. That's your instinct as the eldest: instruction and advice, good advice that might not fix right away, but sets the younger ones on the right road. So I start saying things that sound important, but are really vague. They include words like 'choice' and 'a new course' and 'young'. I am trying to make them see how young they are, these two. How they can, in theory, do anything with their lives, anything! Think Big, I continue, grab it! So there was a party once, so what, there'll be others! Soon I will segue into gently asking Bones if she is OK and if she is taking proper care of herself, I'm pacing myself for that one. It's as if me and my other sister are warming her into proceedings by admitting all that is wonky in our lives. Now we'll beckon her into this wonky world and she'll tell us everything.
But Bones isn't with us. She's staring out the window and smiling at someone. The depressive one switches off and asks, 'Who are you gawking at, Bones? Got eyes for Christmas?' Bones raises her eyebrows. 'A man out there. The one with the kid in the pushchair. He was my first love. Broke my heart, I suppose. He looks really happy.' Then Bones goes back to flicking through her magazine. Me and the depressive one turn in sync and see this man. Names run through my brain. Who has Bones loved in her time? And which one is this? The depressive one taps her spoon against the side of her cup and looks to me. Come on, sis, she taps, time for the gentle question. I must make Bones feel better. I must say something, she's fading away before our very eyes, help us, someone. Bones is smiling and flicking through her magazine, her skinny wrists crossing and retreating like pale knitting needles, she's making something new, shedding page after page after page, moving on.