Marisa’s eyes flit back over to the counter, and she stares at it, remembering the first time Jenn had ever invited her to a recital. Jenn was involved in all kinds of things—piano, choir, theatre, to name a few—and she never failed to invite Marisa, always wearing that wistful smile in hopes that maybe, maybe, Marisa would show up. A feeling of guilt curls inside Marisa’s stomach, and it’s not the Chinese food making her uncomfortable, it’s all the times she didn’t show up when all she had to do was walk out the door.

And she would have to beat her nerves. That was the real thing holding her back, wasn’t it? Knowing that she would have to be surrounded by walls that weren’t her apartment and people that weren’t from Netflix. No matter how much she loved Jenn, she couldn’t bring herself to venture out of doors. The thought of sitting alone at her sister’s recital—or, even worse, sitting by strangers who might try to talk to her—was enough to make her reach for her inhaler for another puff.

It’s 7:12. Marisa can imagine Jenn in her mind’s eye. She’s probably wearing some quirky dress that’s a mixture between bohemian and downright ridiculous. That’s the kind of person Jenn is. If it’s not outrageous, it’s not wearable. Many times during high school, Marisa would watch Jenn come down the stairs wearing a tie or a vest or a pair of six-inch heels, and one of the parents would insist she march right back up the stairs to wear something different. At first, Jenn always listened, but as the years stretched on, she started wearing whatever she wanted. Marisa envied that confidence, but not enough to attempt to emulate it. That was the relationship between her sister and her, really—admiration that never quite progressed into imitation.

Marisa’s mind returns to the first time she rejected Jenn’s invitation. I’m sorry, Jennifer—I love you, but I’m not feeling well. And then, I’m sorry, Jenn, but I have too much homework to do.

I’m seriously so sorry, but I have a doctor’s appointment.

Jenn, you know I’d love to go, but I’ve had this migraine all day, and the meds aren’t helping.

At first, Jenn had always been crestfallen, and once, she had even yelled at Marisa, accusing her sister of not caring. Recently, however, she would just text back, That’s ok. I know you’re busy.

It’s 7:13 now. Marisa’s phone is going haywire. She reaches over to silence it, but when she picks it up, she sees Jenn has sent a text. She can just imagine the text her sister has sent: The parents can’t come, but I can’t wait to see YOU!!!!!! :) :) :) :)

That’s the way Jenn’s texts are always structured. Lots of exclamation points and an exorbitant number of smiley faces. That’s sort of the way Jenn’s attitude is structured, too, isn’t it? Always seeing the bright side, always full of endless enthusiasm for life and anything having to do with it. And what has Marisa done in response? She’s trampled over her sister’s every attempt at developing a relationship. She’s shut down her sister’s smiling texts with lame excuses. The pinkness of the ink on the calendar just proves that.

The End

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