“YOU PIG LAUREN,” I yelled appalled. I watched two fake pearl earrings spin round and round in the water of the downstairs loo.
“LAUREN HOW DARE YOU!!” I almost slapped her. I very much wanted to flush her down the toilet.
“GET THEM BACK” I commanded.
“I can’t, Jen. They’re gone.” My irritating pig of a sister.
“They were my best ones, Lauren! I got them from Joey last summer! And they were gorgeous! Oh Lauren, why? How can you be so stupid?!!”
Lauren’s bottom lip quivered and she gazed apologetically at me with big bulging watery eyes. Hey puppy-dog eyes.
“Jen, I’m sorry! I didn’t know Joey got them for you! I only wanted to get back at you for ruining everything in my toy-box last week. I really am sorry!” Sorry didn’t bring the earrings back.
“Lauren I ruined your toy-box to get back at you for raiding my jewellery drawer! We were even! Now I have to get back at you again!”
She didn’t say anything. Just kept looking at me with her stupid puppy-dog face.
“Your puppy-dog eyes don’t work on me Lauren. Only Dad and half your class. They don’t work on Mum either.”
This was really a very hurtful thing to say. Mum had walked out on us only two weeks ago, yelling that she was sick of us. She left because of Dad seeing other lady-friends behind her back. She left because I’m so moody nowadays. And she left because she said she’s sick of Lauren always causing trouble and trying to act cute.
I think Mum’s a wimp for this. Every mother has to go through raising a moody teenager and an annoying kid. I understand why she left Dad though. It’s wrong what he did. But Mum could split with him without walking out on Lauren and me. Couldn’t she? Mum hates Lauren’s puppy-dog eyes because they always take Dad off her side.
I mean… Lauren could burn the house down and flash her puppy-dog eyes and Dad would say; “She is just a kid, guys. It’s only the first time she’s made this mistake. Come on! Give her another chance?”
Lauren hung her head; Staring at her moody yellow ‘Converse’ trainers while I stormed out of the bathroom.
There are some things I think I need to explain. Lauren is my younger sister by four years. She is ten now. Ten! We constantly do things to spite each other. And then get revenge on one another. It’s just the way our sisterly relationship works.
We don’t look alike. At all! Her with her mop of red curls and pointy features on her snow white face decorated with freckles. Me with my long dark shiny straight hair and my round features on my golden tanned face decorated with eye-shadow and piercings. I’m a bit on the tubby side too actually – whereas Lauren is matchstick thin!
We don’t think much alike either. Despite the way I look I have quite boyish interests. And I’m sporty too. Lauren is the girliest of the girly at heart. And she can’t kick a ball to save her life. She’s always raiding my jewellery boxes and make-up cases. She used to raid Mum’s make-up tins mostly, Mum used to get really narked with her.
It’s a mad-house we live in when Lauren and I are battling.
Let me explain who Joey is. Joey is my second cousin who I hardly ever see. His family stayed in our house with us last summer. When he was leaving he very kindly bought me a beautiful pair of pearl earrings lined with silver. They weren’t real pearls. And it wasn’t real silver. But they were just as beautiful and they meant all the world to me because; 1. He bought them for me and they cost 40 euro. 2. All he bought Lauren was a cherry lollipop for 25c.
We’d been hanging out a lot that summer. He’d spent a lot more time with me than with Lauren. Him and I were way closer. That’s why there’s a massive difference between our gifts. I mean… 160 of her gift is worth one of mine!
And I think one day we might be more than just second cousins.
I thought about Joey a lot now. I had his mobile number… I could call him and see how he’s doing? I wouldn’t tell him about the earrings. He’d probably be furious.
I dialled his number. The beep rang for ages.
“Hello?” I heard a breathless panting voice say.
“Hi! Joey… it’s Jen” I waited for some kind of enthusiastic babble. None came.
“Jen?” he said slowly. “Oh! Hey. Em… why are you calling?”
“I just wanted to say hi! I haven’t seen you in a while,” I reminded him.
“Yeah. I am sort of busy right n-”
I cut in. “You sound exhausted! What’s happening?”
“I left my phone upstairs so I ran up the stairs,” he answered shortly.
“Oh. So what are you doing today?” I searched for conversation.
“I’m watching a film with my girlfriend downstairs.”
I felt a cold, hard hand squeeze my heart tightly. He was watching a movie with who?
“Oh… w-what’s her name?” I gulped.
“Murielle.” Murielle sounded like more of an adult name to me.
“How old is she?” I asked.
“17, same as me,” he told me.
“Oh… um… great. Where did you meet her?”
“A basketball summer-camp last year in June,” he said dreamily.
Last year. In June. Before his family stayed with us. Before he bought me the earrings. So it hadn’t meant anything special when he bought them for me. Just a nice goodbye gift. Just as a friend.
“Lauren flushed the earrings down the toilet!” I gabbled, hastily trying to find a topic that he might care about.
“Earrings? What earrings?”
“The earrings you bought for me last summer! They cost 40 quid!” I exclaimed, in disbelief he had forgotten.
“I bought you earrings? Really? You sure?”
“YES! Pearls – fake – lined with silver – also fake!”
“Oh… yes. I think I remember now. Are you sure they weren’t real pearls? I bought real pearls for Murielle.”
That was enough.
“Ok Joey, well sorry for keeping you from your movie. Bye!”
I hung up so quickly and violently that I don’t know if he heard the last words I said. I pictured the earrings in my mind again and suddenly they didn’t seem so special. I don’t really know why? They haven’t changed. Only the meaning behind them has. But now I know the meaning isn’t possible more than just friendship.
One month later I lay on my bed listening to music through earphones. I heard thumping on the staircase as someone ran up it. My bedroom door nearly came off its hinges as the someone ran up it. The someone was Lauren. I pulled my earphones out quickly and looked at Lauren with a confused and concerned expression. She was panting breathlessly.
“Lauren are you ok?” I had decided to forgive her for the earrings incident. Though I’d never actually told her. But I figured she’d understand when she realised I wasn’t plotting her revenge.
Lauren didn’t answer my question, she just pulled a tiny black box from behind her and presented me with… earrings? My earrings. What! But… but… how? “Lauren! How did you get those?!”
“I went to this…eh… plum bing factory place and they were able to rescue it.”
I was totally unconvinced. Who did she think she was fooling? Plumbing factory! She was spinning a complete story. But still… how did she get them? They were the exact same ones! Fake pearls lined with fake silver. They were, however, a little overly sparkly for old earring that had been flushed down a toilet…too sparkly. They were new. They had to be new. Otherwise how could she have the box? I’d lost the box someplace somewhere ages ago. She got them freshly from a shop. Did she nick them? My little sister doesn’t steal. Especially not for me. But she couldn’t possible afford them. She only earns up to a fiver a month, and even then she spends it all on sweets. She could never possess 40 quid. Much less she’d spend it on me.
I decided not to let on to her that I knew she was just making up a story because she wanted me to think I had the original earrings again.
“Thank you! Thank you so much Lauren!”
“Um… You’re welcome,” Lauren muttered shyly.
“So… why did you go through the trouble for me?” I asked her, smiling.
“Because you’re my sister,” she shrugged. “They were important to you and it wasn’t fair that I flushed them down the loo.”
I threw my arms around her in a loving, sisterly embrace.
I waited outside Lauren’s school on Monday, wearing the earrings in my ears. I watched Lauren’s class come dashing out of the school doors and out to their parents. Lauren, oddly, held back. I waited for her to come out to me, I thought it would be a nice surprise to see me there since she usually walks home on her own.
We fight a lot, but we’re still sisters. We laugh, we tease, we play, we fight, we hit, we hug, and we look out for one another.
Lauren stayed back to talk to a teacher.
“Lauren, I wonder if you’ll be washing my car again this weekend?” Lauren’s music teacher Ms. Craigly asked.
“No, sorry Ms. C. I’ve raised enough and bought what I wanted. So, I think I’ll be staying at home this Saturday,” Lauren told her confidently.
“Oh dear. Where will I ever find another brilliant car washer like you? You can always keep doing the job you know, if you want. You cans still raise money for nice things,” Ms. Craigly smiled and tried to persuade her.
“I’ll think about it. Thanks for everything Ms. C,” Lauren grinned.
“Thank you, Lauren,” said Ms. Craigly.
Lauren danced through the school gates and waltzed right into me with a shriek.
“You washed Ms. Craigly’s car? Why?!”
“Eh… um… hi, Jen”
“Hello. Now answer the question,” I pressed.
“Yeah, I did.”
“To raise some cash!” she told me.
“A tenner a week.”
“How long did you do the job for?” I investigated.
“Every Saturday for a month.”
“So four weeks. 40 euro.”
“What did you buy?” I questioned.
“Well… em… stuff” she said vaguely.
“Stuff like these?” I said tapping the pearls in my ears. “You washed Ms. Craigly’s car every week to raise money for these earrings, didn’t you?” I pushed.
“Yes” Lauren mumbled.
“Why?” I asked smiling widely.
“I told you. Because you’re my sister.”
I wrapped my arms around her again in a great, warm hug.
“I love you to bits, Lauren,” I told her.
“Um… thanks. The feeling’s mutual,” said looking away.
At first I owned earrings with an imaginary meaning behind them. Now I own earring with a 100% real meaning. My little sister spent four restless Saturdays washing her teacher’s car.
I owned two pairs of earrings that looked exactly the same. But so different at the same time.
These ones, have a meaning all the more special. And I’m going to wear them everyday.
* * *
By Julia Rose Twamley