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Myths of Sisterhood MAG
We sat on opposite poles of the doctor's office. I couldn't remember a time when I'd been on the same pole as my older sister. Aphrodite tapped her foot to the music that was thumping from her white earphones; it was loud enough that the receptionist and I could've tapped along too. I wanted to hit her. I wanted to spring onto her like a wildcat. I wanted to yank that silky black hair right out of her skull. I wanted to, but that's not how ladies behave.
“Seph!” My sister barked my nickname. She beckoned me to her corner. I slunk over, dreading whatever action she was about to take. “I'm sorry, Persephone, but you can't help who you love,” she whispered as she reached for me. Something in me recoiled. I pulled my hand back before she could touch it.
“You're lucky Mom is a hypochondriac. You're lucky we're in a doctor's office and not anywhere else. You're lucky I'm not quite sure how to deck someone, and you're lucky that your cell phone is waterproof,” I hissed. I hadn't really done anything to her cell phone. Her dark eyebrows danced briefly.
“My cell phone isn't waterproof …,” she said slowly.
“Well, Aphrodite, you can't have all the luck.”
Her face twisted into a grimace; my real sister was now visible.
“I'm going to kill you.”
“No, you're not. This isn't about your feelings anymore,” I said.
When your sister steals the boy you love, there are no more obligations or rules drawn out of love. Sisterhood is null and void.
Led Zeppelin has this song. It doesn't get as much attention as “Stairway to Heaven,” but it's my favorite. “D'yer Mak'er” is the reason I fell in love with George.
It began in aisle 17 of Giant Eagle. I was getting pomegranate juice for my mother; he was getting orange juice. The song was playing a few decibels below inaudible, but I would've recognized Robert Plant's voice anywhere. As I looked for the cheapest, most generic juice I could find, I quietly hummed along.
“You know this song?” asked a skinny boy in my peripheral vision. Actually, the way he said “you” made it sound like an accusation. I scowled at him from behind my sunglasses.
“Yes. Why wouldn't I?”
“You just don't seem like much of an oldies girl.”
“You're right; I'm not an oldies girl. Led Zeppelin is classic.”
“Touché. It's Zeus, right?”
“I prefer Paul, John, or Ringo.”
“To each his own.”
“Her own. To each her own.”
“To each his or her own.”
“How did you know my name?”
“I didn't know it.”
“You knew to make the Greek god joke. You knew it.”
“We have third period together.”
“Get out of my juice aisle.” And unlike any other boy who would've stayed and tried to continue the conversation, he just strolled out shaking a carton of Tropicana. His jeans were too big, the edges frayed and dirty from dragging. His arms weren't muscular, his hair wasn't blond, and his eyes weren't green. I had no idea how I could be attracted to a twig named George. But I didn't need one.
“Would someone please tell me what's going on?” our mother said as we pulled out of the doctor's parking lot.
“Are you healthy?” Aphrodite changed the subject with tact; I'll give her that.
“I'm fine. Don't change the subject.”
“What do you want to know?” I said with venom in my voice.
“Why are you two fighting?” Mom asked, staring at me in the rearview mirror.
“Seph wanted the passenger's seat, and I took it.” Aphrodite cut me off smoothly.
“That's not why I'm mad at you,” I said calmly. She looked at me with desperation in her eyes; she didn't want Mom to know what kind of girl she was. “Aphrodite kissed George.” I didn't care.
“What?” Mom whispered in her breathy voice. Aphrodite curled her legs up and looked out the window.
“It's a longer story than I care to tell,” she whispered.
“Didn't I already tell you this? It's not about your feelings anymore, Aphrodite. You're the one who betrayed me.”
“Oh, for the love! Persephone! This is not blood betrayal. I kissed him once,” she spat.
“You said that you loved him.”
“What? When did I say that?” She was treading water now. I could see the atomic bombs in her eyes. I didn't know what had happened, why it had happened, or how. But Aphrodite was frantic, hopeless, and as much as I hated her, as much as I wanted to disown her, I couldn't let her drown, at least not in front of our mother.
“Never mind,” I whispered, shaking my head. This was all so ridiculous. It felt like an episode of “Jerry Springer.” I couldn't explain the pain that seethed through me or the sadness pumping in my veins – my sister would never understand. She was always the strong girl, the one nobody could have. I was always the one with a boyfriend, falling in some repetitive form of infatuation, the weak one. She was the powerful goddess of love, destined to find affection and give it. I was mortal, destined to the chains of Hades' throne. Why did she get to be Aphrodite? Her body shook in the passenger seat, fighting tears.
Persephone was so beautiful, it was entirely unfair. Her hair was thick, curly, and strawberry blond. She had this round face, rosy and innocent, like a cherub. Her lips were full, and her eyes were the color of honey. I never understood how she could be my sister. Dark hair, dark eyes, sharp features, too skinny – I was jagged and plain, not soft and precious like my baby sister. Yet for some reason, she always felt inferior.
It was mid-summer when she brought George home for dinner. He walked in wearing a purple T-shirt and arrogance. Seph was in this little red dress, looking perfect. My hair was in chopsticks, my feet were in moccasins, and my bones were adorned with paint-splattered pajamas.
“What is this?” I groaned, frozen in the kitchen. Persephone giggled, and George smiled this awkward ersatz smile.
“This is George; he was in your English class. Remember?”
“What a pleasure,” I said and then raced to my room.
It went on like that for a while. George came over sometimes for dinner, one of Persephone's less serious endeavors. Every time I ran for cover. Every time I wondered how they could be together. But I kept my distance; I was frequently attracted to her boyfriends. It didn't mean anything. Lie.
With George, it did mean something. We were always flirting, just in a backwards way. We challenged each other with movie quotes, and we debated the ever-important question: Holden Caulfield or Huckleberry Finn? It should've been: Persephone or Aphrodite? Still, I tried keeping my distance.
It wasn't until school started, that we started. Somehow he ended up in my English class again. Advanced placement was not kind to me.
“There's the goddess of love herself,” he said casually as he sat next to me.
“Giorgio Armani,” I sang. Well, I growled it. But my inner love goddess was singing. Catch yourself, I thought. “Taking care of my sister?”
“Yep. How are you, Aphrodite?” He changed the subject almost as well as I did. What was right stopped mattering. I was too selfish, too quickly smitten. Persephone didn't notice because what I thought was love was just in my head.
“You're saying you kissed him? He didn't kiss you back? He didn't wanna kiss you?” I said, trying not to whimper.
“I liked him, okay? I wanted to kiss him, and I did. It was all me.”
She was so calm. How?
“You fell in love with George. How could you do that?” I said, feeling my cheeks turn red. I let the tears fall.
“It's over, Persephone. I'm so sorry. Hate me forever. It's over, though.” She looked exhausted.
“How could you do that?” I whispered, finally sinking into inevitable misery. She came to my side, held me as I shook. My frizzy hair was wet with someone's tears – hers or mine I did not know. My sister was not the one I wanted to hold me right now.
In order to prevent a virus, first you have to inject it into the body. Aphrodite was the reason I hurt, but she was also the cure. She smelled like Hawaiian Fruit Punch and cocoa butter. I let the stiffness inch its way from my body, looking for my big sister in the body of a traitor.
The kiss was not just a kiss. It was the beginning of a new chapter. It was the mistake to eclipse all mistakes. It was impulsive. It was dumb. But it happened, and that's what I hated most.
George sat in the beige armchair watching “Family Feud.” I sat on the floor. Persephone was in the kitchen making nachos. I laughed at something George said.
“Aphrodite,” he said in a strange voice. It was the voice Persephone used when talking about George. A voice that sounded like flowers, pretty dresses, and I love you, if that makes any sense.
I felt that I had to kiss him right then. It happened in slow motion, like something you'd see on “Animal Planet.” I turned to face him, and something in those blue eyes said “Do it.” And I did it. I kissed him, right on the lips, for just a moment.
“Stop,” Persephone croaked.
My baby sister looked like an angel whose wings had been clipped. My hands were full of feathers, scissors, and regret.
It smelled lovely, looked fun, it was irresistible. Like Play-Doh and the grass on the other side of the fence, kissing George wasn't all it's cracked up to be.
I still couldn't comprehend what made her do it, but I knew she hadn't done it by herself. George's garbled voicemails just sounded like testimonials to a lie I didn't care enough to believe. So there I sat, trying to decide whether I could forgive the girl I loved more than anything else. She was also the girl who had kissed George, but in the end he was just a boy who kissed my sister. My sister was just a girl who kissed a boy.
Because of George and Aphrodite, I realized a few things. Things I'd have discovered with or without their kiss, but I think an illegal lip lock is the best way to find yourself, even if you're not partaking.
Sisterhood flows through us, in the worst of times. It holds our hearts in place, in the right place. It keeps us intertwined, and it guides us back to shelter. Aphrodite was not anything like me, nor would she ever be. George loved both of us, because we are two of the most famous women in history, because we have great hair, and because our hearts have a depth not found in nature. No, Aphrodite wasn't anything like me, but she was the only one who could ever be my sister.
I know that I'm a myth. There isn't really a goddess of love, and if there is, she's doing an awful job. I know that perfection is a myth, nothing is without flaws. I know that forever is a myth. There is end, death, and demise to all we find in this life. I know this, yet I still believe in these things. Just like we believe in ghosts, superstitions, and good luck. There is no world without them.
My sister shouldn't have forgiven me; I don't think she wanted to. I shouldn't have kissed George; I'm still not sure why I did, but I know I didn't do it by myself. I wasn't the girl George should be with, but neither was Persephone. We live without regulations, without stipulations, and one day we fall to our mistakes. It's the aftermath, what we do with the wreckage, that really counts for something.
Persephone picks up my pieces, and I glue hers back together. I fill in the spaces her existence doesn't fill. I don't know what hippie notion made my mother name us Persephone and Aphrodite. I don't know why Persephone loves. I don't know what happens after this. But I do know this: because of this kiss, because of a million other things, and because of the girl who created the seasons, sisterhood is not a myth.