Robin awakened to the murmurs of Grace opening the bedroom door.
“You didn’t have to go off on them like that,” she said.
Robin sat up in her bed and wrapped the comforter around her middle. “Like what? They deserved it.”
“Nobody ignores you.”
“Are you kidding me? When was the last time mom or dad even looked in my general direction? You saw their faces when I was talking. It was like they suddenly realized they had another daughter.”
“Well, it’s better than always being the reason for all their problems.”
“What are you talking about, Grace?”
“They always talk about me and Neil like we’re problem children. I’d much rather be ignored than be criticized.”
“I thought I wasn’t being ignored.”
“You know what I mean. You’re perfect. You never get in trouble; you get good grades; you’re who they’re proud of.”
“It’d be nice to hear it from them sometimes then. Should I start flunking classes and coming home with hickeys on my neck and my clothes smelling of cigarettes to get their attention? Because I’ll do it.”
“Robin, don’t be ridiculous. No you won’t. That’s not you.”
“You’re right. I’m the quiet girl. The shy girl. The one who gets walked on all the time, who can’t ever say no. I’m the one who is overlooked and forgotten. Some life.”
“I’ve overheard mom and dad say they wish I was never even born before.”
That caused Robin to skip a beat. She furrowed her brows and whispered, “No you have not. That’s not even funny to joke about.”
Robin watched as Grace bowed her head and shook it. “No joke. They were having a particularly nasty argument one day a few years ago, and I walked to the kitchen to get some juice in the middle of the night and heard them say that.”
“But the context. There’s no context. They didn’t mean it like that.”
“Now you’re sticking up for them? I heard what I heard. They don’t love me. I’m not wanted. I never was. Not after you and Lucy came along. I was the disposable one, the one who always got in trouble, the one who demanded attention. I wish I were more like you. I wish I could be independent.”
Robin couldn’t believe what she was hearing. All her life, she had wanted to be like her big sister. She wanted that courage, fierceness, sureness, and tenacity. Instead, she had been born with all the opposite qualities, and no matter how hard she tried she wasn’t Grace. It had taken over a decade to come to terms with it. She didn’t have a reply for her sister, so instead she stood up and gave her sister a long squeeze.
“I love you,” Robin whispered in Grace’s ear. “Let that mean something.”