I envied them, the giggly breed of sister clans. Doing each other's hair, sharing dolls and shoes and secrets. Eagerly practicing their motherly instincts on cute fluffy pets, bonding further with the experience. It often gave me the feeling of a stranger out in the rain, looking through the window at the warm happiness indoors. A merry fireplace that I was not part of. I have not one, not two, but three older brothers. Among the things we shared, were the mutilated remains of appendage-bare, plastic head and torso arrangements of dolls I owned. The pets they chose to nurture were the likes of Cobras (yes, the poisonous snake kind!). They were also partners in a blood pact for the many crimes they gleefully committed. As thick as thieves.
My parents were not going to have a fifth child, so with the minimum means available to me, I thought up my own ways to fill up my presumed obvious void. One of my early attempts was a young chick. Yes, I was taking the fluffy pet need to a new level! This one would double as a sister as well. I was still congratulating myself on the brilliance of my multi-purpose acquisition, when my little chick sister got lifted off by a big, fat crow during one of our (last) sisterly walks. Oh the cruelty of it! Supper for greedy Mr. Crow was sadly her last purpose! Already delirious with grief at the brutal loss of my new found soul mate, the collective efforts of my gallant bothers' gesture, of hunting down the crow and retrieving the limp remains of my sister had quite the opposite effect than they had intended. In an attempt to help in the only way they knew how, they had lead me to be beside myself with sorrow. Normally impatient with my emotional outbursts, this time I became the object of their tender concern and affection.
When I was quite over the heartbreak, I found myself another sister substitute. This one was a bitch (literally), and kind of fell into my lap. She was born to our own pet dog. Being evidently weak from birth and somewhat slow, we decided to keep her rather than give her away to some person that would find her cute enough as a pup, but might just shun her at some point for her mild retardation. Nearly immediately she became my personal pet and was introduced into my space. She seemed like a fair enough substitute for a while. We shared the same room, if not shoes. The secrets were rather one sided too, but nevertheless I had myself a canine, four legged sister. She actually can be described as my trusted shadow for the years that we spent together, so in that way the bond aspect had worked for me. Why belittle it with further inspection?
Along the years I grew out of my need for a sister. In that miniscule way, I matured. I never got inducted into the inner circle of my other siblings. As my parent's spy, my tattling and corrupted blackmailing repeatedly disqualified me. They did, however, self-appoint themselves to the protection of my honour. So, anything that was male, on two legs and had the cheek of showing any remote interest in me, had to meet their impossibly attainable standards or had to bear their indignant scorn. Should that not suffice, there was always the definite scare-tactic of the occasional exchange of punches and the sort. And yet I have had the good fortune to have found a fair share of soul mates for one lifetime.
A friend, in the prime of life, was served with a 'fight or perish' sentence three weeks ago for one of those diseases one doesn't wish upon the worst enemy. Dispersed over the globe though they might have been, the pack of sisters united in snap. All life, duty and responsibility outside of the sentence came to a stand still. Individual families were instantly put on hold. One being, one body, that's what they formed. To build a front together, to generate enough strength to compensate for the one that had none left. It's working. They will pull through because of each other.
I think back sheepishly at my quest for a sister substitute. The power of family, of siblings, of blood is not to imitate. It is the inner circle. I always belonged.