"You know what I fear most?" My sister, Pascaline, or Pascal, asked one sunny autumn day.
I glanced up from the book I was reading on the porch. It was entitled 'The Man in the Mirror and the Woman Falling from a Seventy-Foot Ladder'. It was quite an interesting read, and I hated to lower it after having spent all this time allowing the story to suck me into the whimsical world which it created. I was just reading about the falling woman when Pascal spoke. My eyes made contact with hers from above my small reading glasses. The light glinted off of them briefly as I adjusted myself to better see her.
"What do you fear most?" I asked, deeming the question to be very odd. We had neither talked about fear or anything of the sort for quite some time, nor given any implication that we wished to speak on the subject. Still, I decided I'd entertain her question, and then return to the woman falling from the very tall ladder.
"Being buried alive." She answered, her voice firm, as if she'd thought this through over and over, making sure that this was the answer she wanted to give. "And yourself?"
I was surprised by the question. I had never pondered fear much myself, but rather learned what I did through experience. But even then, it wasn't something that invaded my mind every day to the extent that it seemed to invade my sister's. Yet still, I gave a quick thought to my response and answered as truthfully as I could.
"Oh, I don't know. Spiders? Poison? Death?" I responded, realizing that my answer didn't match up to hers in the slightest, and actually seemed to show how little I actually cared. But that simply was not the case. I did care deeply for my dear sister and her feelings, but I hadn't the time to come up with a completely true and well-thought out response. I leaned forward, staring at Pascal through my thin glasses, which had dropped down over the bridge of my nose, barely holding onto my face now, "Where is this coming from Pascal?"
She sighed, hesitating, as if she didn't know how to respond. I waited patiently, as I often did, for her to respond.
"I'm not entirely sure," she replied, her brow furrowing as she tried to find a purpose behind her question, "it just popped into my head, so I felt like asking you."
"There's nothing to worry about, Pascal," I said, "Believe me, no one is going to bury you alive. It's quite easy to tell the living from the dead in this age."
"I know," she replied, as if my answer hadn't been enough to soothe her seemingly ever-growing fear, "but it's just the thought that terrifies me, you know? What if it did happen?" She looked me straight in the eyes while making that inquiry, waiting for me to answer in a satisfactory way. Perhaps she sought reassurance, or perhaps something else entirely. Regardless of which it was, I did my best to cover both.
"If you like I will take it upon myself to ensure that you are never buried alive." I stated, "Deal?" I knew there wasn't a chance she'd be buried alive, especially nowadays. I knew there wasn't ever going to be a reason for me to have to worry about this happening to her, yet I said it to assure her. That, and I wanted to return to my book.
She smiled, finding my response to be what she wanted. She had a pretty smile, one that made her face light up, one that made her all the more beautiful. She had a smile which could turn heads. One could bask in its glory. Her smile was contagious, and those in her company who stole a smile from her often took to smiling themselves, whether they willed themselves to or not.
She nodded curtly, "Deal" she said.
I smiled slightly. Despite living with her for as many years as I had, the illness that was her cheerfulness was not something I had grown immune to. I shook my head, letting out a long, joking sigh.
"Silly Pascal" I said, returning my eyes to my book.