Beginning to Tell The Memories
"Alison? Are you awake?" Lucy murmured as she slipped into our bedroom. I nodded, and sat up.
"You've come up early. What is it?"
"Jenna just got back."
"Jenna! In an instant, I had thrown back the covers on my bed and leapt out of it. Before Lucy could react, I was running down the stairs and hurling myself at my eldest sister, Jennifer Smit. Jennifer caught me in her arms and kissed me gently.
"It's good to see you."
I stepped back to allow my other sister, Lucy – who, at seventeen, was two years Jennifer's junior – to kiss Jennifer, welcome her home and ask about her first year at University. Meanwhile, I went to get Jennifer a drink. However, as I did so, I yawned, causing our mother to say "Leave it, Alison. I'll get it. Get back to bed. You're asleep on your feet."
I turned to argue, but Jennifer flashed me a look that said "Go. Lucy and I will be up soon, so I merely scowled blackly before doing as I was told.
Sure enough, Lucy followed not long after, and I turned in bed to face her, holding out my arms for a hug as though I was four and not fourteen. Lifting the covers, she crawled in beside me, and wrapped her arms around my waist, pulling me close.
Revelling in her touch, I let my mind wander, musing over how strange our family must seem to people who didn't know us well. At first glance, Jennifer, Lucy and I didn't look like sisters, for I had brown eyes and dark wavy hair, whereas the older two were fair, tall and slender, but that was because I was adopted. Lucy and Jennifer's mother, Mary Smit, was my godmother and, when my parents had died in a plane crash just after I had turned three, she had taken me in and raised me as her own, though not without pitfalls along the way.
I always wondered what it must have been like for Lucy's family to have to care for me in those first few years, for dazed and grieving and confused as I was, I must have been a real handful.
As though she could read my thoughts, Lucy sighed softly. "Hmm. We haven't done this for a while; not since your nightmares stopped properly."
Suddenly, I realised that if I ever wanted to know, I would have to ask, and who better to ask than Lucy, the sister I adored beyond all reason?
"Lucy, do you remember?"
"What I was like when I first came to live with you."
"Er, a little." Lucy answered hesitatingly, obviously unsure where this was going. I pressed on regardless.
"Will you tell me about it?"
"Sure, but why do you want to know?"
I shrugged. "I just do. It's my history. And tonight, with Jennifer home, seems such an apt night for it. Please, Lucy. Tell me."
"I remember better than Lucy. I can tell you more." Jennifer suddenly opened the door to our room, startling us both. Shutting it behind her, she came into the room and settled herself at the other end of my bed, covering her legs with our duvet and draping her own over her shoulders. Twisting as best I could, given that Lucy had me locked between her arms, I craned my neck to gaze into my eldest sister's eyes.
"Will you?" was all I asked, but it was all that was needed.
"Sure. Switch the light off though, so Mama doesn't realise that we're still awake."
"You do it. I can't move."
Chuckling, Jennifer complied, reaching across with one hand to pull the cord that dangled above my bed, a reminder of the times when my nightmares had been so frequent that I had needed to have light available to me at all times. I used the lamp as a reading lamp now, but it still threw a comforting glow over my bed and the near surroundings. As Jennifer pulled the cord, it snapped off, leaving the three of us in the pitch black.
Taking a deep breath to compose herself, Jennifer began.