As my sister’s birthday approached, I knew I had to write a blog tribute. I’ve exposed the rest of my family on their birthdays with tributes that (as my mother will attest), leave them holding their breath until the end. What long buried family secret will I reveal? Oh god, please don’t let it be that one…
And when I began making a list of nostalgic flashbacks, what I jotted down became more of a confession. The theme being: What a Rotten Older Sister I Was To Kiley. Luckily, once I hit 20 or so, I redeemed myself. However, up until that point, we fought, UFC-style. My dad gave up on replacing the hinges on my bedroom door. Kiley and I had pulled the hinge out of the frame so many times that eventually, I had to lift and carry my door to the frame as it was only attached at the bottom. I’m sure when they sold the house that this was repaired, but until then, with our weekly push-pull-crash-flying-punches and kickboxing method of conversing, it wasn’t a consideration.
We loved to battle over clothes. I would sell my prized jean jacket, or Chip & Pepper overalls to Kiley for reasonable amounts. She worked part time at an ice cream parlour, Tim Horton’s and Sportchek. I chose to volunteer at a nature centre doing birdwatching hikes instead of having a real, paying job, so, found a lucrative market in selling clothes to Kiley. Except, I would surreptitiously ‘borrow’ them back, and wear them as frequently as I did before. But now I was making money doing it. Until I was caught. Which, once Kiley started grade 9 at the same high school I went to, the gig was up.
We yelled at each other like drunk truckers in the hallowed hallways of BCI, pushed each other into lockers like complete bullies. If we weren’t related, we would have been expelled, I’m sure. The earlier years were probably filled with the greatest tortures though. Namely, Emmanuel Lewis. Kiley had a Cabbage Patch Kid that doubled as a full assault weapon. Those dolls have plastic heads and boots filled with cement. I swear I saw stars with every attack. The Emmanuel Lewis Pummel was the worst, and to keep Kiley and her aggression under control, Dax and I routinely locked her in her bedroom. Why she had a lock outside her door, we still question. My parents said it was because she was prone to sleepwalking, and actually walked right out of the house one night. But, returned, still sleepwalking, ringing the door bell politely for a 4 a.m. entry. We loved the lock.
Kiley’s door was often closed as she was as private as royalty. In her pink cocoon with the Princess canopy bed, she wrote feverishly in her diary. About us. Or so we thought. When she wasn’t working on epic diary entries, she was on the phone to her best-friends-forever, Hilleree and Yo-Yo. And she would talk forever, until Dax and I discovered that pulling the jack out of the wall would quickly end her conversations. And, if she was locked in her room, we could safely laugh like hyenas at her, with our backs up against her door.
(*Notice how I’m involving Dax in each of these tall tales too? As a big sister I like to share…blame).
Probably the most evil move was when I was 11 or so, which meant Kiley was 9 or so, and Dax 7 or so. We had been at the Glenhyrst Art Gallery with my grandmother and Aunt Buffer and had all piled into my Aunt’s Chevy. I locked the back door before Kiley could get in. She pouted and hammered on the window. My Aunt was busy gabbing, and Dax and I didn’t really think she would pull away without Kiley in the car. We watched Kiley’s eyes grow wider as the car turned to the right and we started heading towards Brant avenue. About a mile away from the gallery, Buffer asked Kiley a question. Dax and I panicked, mildly. Kiley didn’t answer because she wasn’t in the car. My Aunt turned around and asked her the question again. My grandmother turned. She feigned a heart attack and started praying. Where was Kiley? Our oh-so-funny-let’s-lock-Kiley-out-of-the-car-joke ended with all of us crying, Buffer doing a U-turn on two wheels and roaring at top speeds back to the gallery. Here, we found Kiley, red-faced and wailing. Yeah, we were in shit. Or, I was, because it was my idea. As per usual.
It was also my idea to call Kiley when she was 16 and offer her a job at the Parks & Recreation department in Brantford. This was a highly coveted job, as it involved spending the summer outside, largely tanning, but doing landscape work for the city in between. She was desperate to work for them. So, I called, pretending to be someone important, with an accent of some sort that came and went, and asked if she would like to join the Parks & Rec team. She was so happy. I was so mean. I started laughing and blew my cover, but did have huge remorse at being such a jerk.
But, in time I forgave myself and continued to fulfill my role as the rotten older sister. When Kiley would come home later than curfew, Dax and I would do one of two things. If we were quick enough we would run to the garage door and hold the doorknob while Kiley put her key in the lock. When she tried to turn the knob to get in, it was immoveable. So, she would have to knock. And, of course Dax and I wouldn’t answer, so she would have to knock louder—so loud that my dad would hear, and he would stomp from the master bedroom to let her in. Past her curfew. Busted. Other times, when we were feeling particularly rotten, we would lie on our bellies on the kitchen floor and wait for Kiley to actually enter the house. She would tiptoe through the kitchen, quiet as a church mouse, until we grabbed her ankles in the dark and made her scream like a horror movie starlet. We got her every time. Which also woke my dad up, and revealed her broken curfew.
And I could go on, but I might get de-friended for this unknown mean streak that I apparently harbour. Like the time we abandoned Kiley in my great-grandmother’s garden when she was 7. Her boots sucked into the wet mud and she was completely immobile. We were told to never run through the garden, but, we did. And poor Kiley got stuck–and Dax and I responded by saving ourselves. We heard the screen door slam and saw my great grandmother’s flock of white hair and heard her rolling cough. The steps were quick and mad as she marched towards Kiley, her cane swinging. “You little ‘rangutan. I’m gonna skin you alive!”
Dax and I hid in the ditch by the tracks and watched Kiley be pulled out of the quagmire by one arm. We raced home and told my mother that Kiley was going to be skinned. Alive. She was narrowly saved.
And now? We laugh over all the times Dax stole the cord to her mauve ghetto blaster because he was sick of Mr. Jones every morning at 8:15 a.m. Or, how Dax would retaliate by putting fish food flakes between her bed sheets. Kiley still brings up the time I put anchovy paste on the underside of most of the Hostess potato chips she was eating. Not my best work, but, it ranks with the day I blew a spoonful of pepper in her eye while she tried to see out of the crack of the door when we had locked her in her room(which my mother insisted I would go to juvenile detention centre for because I could have blinded my own sister).
Happy birthday–we miss you here in Ontario, but know that your place and happiness is in the mountains. These stories and our two hour hot ear conversations will always erase the provinces between us.