26th July 2004. It was the day I met her.
Mum and Dad had held a family conference in the living room.
I hadn't wanted a sister. I had my life under control, or so I thought. The first six years of my life had been spent finding the perfect order - to everything. I needed that, especially after The Incident. Even at the tender age of six, I was a control freak.
But the main reason I didn't want (another) sister was because it would mean yet another person to love. Another person who could leave.
Just like Lizzie.
"Okay, Laney, darling, you know that you're about to meet your new sister, right?" Dad had said.
I remember nodding curtly. "And my name is Elena, Father. Not Laney." I'd shuddered.
Dad had sighed in defeat, his black eyebrows knotted together.
"You will be nice to her, won't you? She's a few months younger than you, but you will be nice, right?" Mum had asked, with a worried glance at my expressionless face.
"Yes, I will, Mother." I had said, my high child's voice sounding cold.
"I do wish you'd call me Mummy." Mum had sighed sadly, running a hand through her flyaway brown hair.
I looked at her sharply. "That would not be proper, Mother."
"Thank god we're getting her a sister," Dad had muttered quietly to Mum.
A knock sounded at the door. "That must be her!" Mum had explained, jumping up excitedly. Dad got up too, and I had followed them reluctantly into the hallway.
On the doorstep stood a lady. Beside her stood my new sister.
She had a tangled mess of red hair, a black headband sitting on top of it. Her eyes were brighter than the fresh blade of grass at spring. She was wearing a green dress with a white bow around the middle, and her small legs were covered in rainbow stripy tights leading to little black shoes. She smiled at us, the happiest smile in the world. "Hello!" She had a high, sweet voice.
"Hello sweetheart!" Mum had crooned, bending down. "Do you remember me?"
She'd smiled, dimpling. "Yeah! You're going to be my new mummy!"
"Yes I am sweetie! Do you want to meet your new sister?"
"Go ahead, Elena!" Dad had pushed me forward gently.
I bit my lip, unsure of what to do in front of this happy, smiling creature.
"Hello," I'd said quietly.
She'd beamed. "Hello! My name is Noerai but everyone calls me Rai. What's your name?"
"My name is Elena," I'd hesitated. "But you can call me Laney."
My parents had exchanged looks of delight.
"Yay!" Rai had hugged me, her pale, scrawny arms wrapping around my waist. After a moment of consideration, I had hugged her back.
Rai became my best friend. She taught me how to be a child, playing dress up in Mum's clothes, building forts from blankets, being a princess holding tea parties. There wasn't anyone I loved more in the world than her. At night, when sometimes I had nightmares about The Incident, she'd crawl into my bed and make up a story for me and there was always a happy ending. We'd fall asleep, hands entwined, brown hair and red tangling together on the pillow.
Time passed. We moved on to high school. The "populars" decided that they didn't like Rai, for some reason. I couldn't understand why. She was just so full of life, of happiness and love, and she never ever hurt anyone. I was the snappish, sarcastic one.
But people started to bully her. At first it was just little things, sticking their foot out in the hallway, snickering quietly as she walked past. But soon it escalated. They said she was an outcast, her birth parents didn't want her. That she was worthless.
She shrugged it off with a smile, saying that she had all the family she wanted. But I caught her crying one night, as I padded down the hallway to the toilet.
She was huddled on her bed, arms wrapped around her knees and head down. Her fiery hair spilled down over her face, bright even in the blackness of night. She was sobbing quietly, shoulders shaking.
I went to her.
She looked up at the sound of my voice, and quickly dried her face and put on a smile. "What are you doing here, Laney?"
I knelt down beside her. "Don't pretend, Rai. I saw. Is it what they said?"
She lowered her head. "Yeah."
"Don't take any notice of them!" I said fiercely. "They're stupid idiots who aren't going to amount to anything in life."
"But - but they were right. My parents didn't want me. I am worthless."
I put a finger under her chin and forced her to look at me. "Noerai Althea Isadora Cassiopeia Fields. Don't you dare say that, okay? Who cares about you birth parents? OUR parents adore you. They're the ones who have raised you, Rai. They are your real parents. And how could you say you are worthless? You are worth the universe to me. You're my best friend and my sister and I love you more than anyone else in the world. Okay?"
She smiled a little, and hugged me. "Love you too, Lanes."
But her eyes were still sad.
I couldn't stand to see my sister in so much pain. So one day, when the bullies were at it, I went right up to one and punched him in the face.
"Family," I'd hissed, "is more than just blood."
One thing led to another, and pretty soon both Rai and I were suspended. But our parents didn't care. In fact, they were super proud that I'd stuck up for my sister.
After that, the bullies left Rai alone.
I thought she was fine after that, that she'd gotten over it. She acted normal, being her usual happy self. I figured she'd come to me if she was feeling down again.
It was Year Thirteen. I was seventeen. I'd just come home from basketball practice, the one thing we didn't do together, as Rai did gymnastics.
"Rai, I'm home!" I called, dropping my bag on the kitchen floor and taking off my shoes.
I expected to see her come racing in at any moment, wanting to hear about all the guys on the team.
But she didn't.
I went into her room. "Rai?"
Her room looked neat. Too neat. Her gold bedspread was made neatly, the books that were usually stacked in teetering piles everywhere gone. Her desk was clear, her laptop sitting in the middle of it. I opened her closet, and saw that over half her clothes were gone.
That was when I began to panic. "RAI!" I yelled, hoping for a response, but none came. I looked around her room wildly, and spotted the photo of us both hanging on the crimson wall.
It had been taken just before we had left for our school ball this year. I was wearing a black and silver one-shoulder dress, grey eyes sparkling, my dark hair curled and arranged in a perfect mess. Rai was wearing a gold strapless dress which brought out her beautiful green eyes, and her coppery hair was piled in a bun with a few loose locks framing her face. We were both laughing, our arms around each other as Dad took the photo.
That photo was always crooked. Always.
But now it was straight.
I went over to it, and took it off the wall. I turned the frame over, and saw a white envelope taped to it. I pulled it off.
Laney, it said on the front in Rai's familiar loopy handwriting.
I opened it with trembling hands. Out fell a piece of silver paper.
To my dearest sister,
They were right, Laney. I am an outcast. I don't deserve you, or Mum or Dad. I don't deserve to be loved.
I'm going to leave now, and don't try to find me. I don't know what I'll do, but I'm going to go out and find a place in the world. Alone.
I'm going to try and make myself worthy of love.
Forget about me. Please. It will be easier that way.
But I won't forget you, Elena Maria Valencia Alessandra Fields. Not ever.
I love you all.
I had sunk to my knees, my eyes glistening. I dropped the paper and bawled, curling up on the floor with her pillow, wishing, hoping she'd come back. That it was all a joke.
It's been two years now. She still hasn't come back. I feel lost without her, without seeing her coppery mane of hair, without her sparkling emerald eyes laughing at me, without her voice calling my name. She completed me– completes me. Without her, I am just half a person. A broken, lonely, half-person of a girl.
I just wish she'd told me how she felt. Of course she was worthy of love! She's the kindest, most caring person I'd ever met. She had helped me get over my OCD, and she helped me understand that Lizzie, my first sister, was in a better place now. And she'd promised that she wouldn't ever leave me.
But someday, she will come back.
A/N: Just a little short story I wrote for my school writing competition. This is a slightly extended version. All reviews are highly appreciated!