Sisters call their parents in Europe from a phone at their grandmother's farm house in Missouri. They try not to cry but the little one, only three, can't help it. Now there, calm down, it's ok. I need a red ribbon she says, her curls bobbing as she sobs. The grandmother climbs up to the musty dusty attic to find a perfect red bow.
Sisters call their grandma from California. We miss you! Come soon! Their small hearts ache for this far away grandmother. They already know that many people will not understand that you can send love across telephone wires. They learn early that distance cannot diminish affection.
Sisters call California from Missouri again, this time they are years older. It isn't really that bad, they say. Just a few stitches, Mom, really. But their mother knows that it is more than a simple scrape. She can hear the quiver in her youngest child's voice as she assures her, I'm fine, I promise.
Sisters call boys and their school friends and always want to be on the phone now that the teen years have come. They carry the giant cordless phones from room to room and their parents discuss a second line just to avoid hassles and arguments.
Sisters call each other only occasionally now since the older one has moved away to college. They are occupied with school, work, and friends, so it's only now and then they talk. In fact, the phone takes on an increasingly smaller and smaller role in both of their busy lives.
Sisters call a little more often after they become separated by an entire country. One now lives in the east and the other remains on the west coast. Still, they are busy and only talk occasionally when time allows.
Sisters call often now to discuss wedding plans. But you have to choose a color, the youngest tells her older sister as they plan for a September wedding. Ok, ok, um, blue. Just pick any blue dress. I wish Daddy could be there to walk me down the aisle. He will be, she tells her, I know it.
Sisters call constantly now that a baby is on the way. On the day of the birth the youngest calls the hospital in a worried panic about the delivery. She's ok, everyone is ok. It's a girl! Can you be her godmother? You'll be her tia, her nina, her special auntie.
Sisters call and text:
I'm on the bus and this guy I am sitting next to looks just like your husband! LOL
Are you watching the presidential debate? I mean who is this bozo?
I'm so jealous that you are at the beach again! I miss SF. xoxo
I think I'm pregnant.
Sisters call because texting about babies and pregnancies just isn't enough. I can't wait for you to be a mommy, too! I love you and I'm so happy, she says, to her no-longer-a-baby-sister. I love you so much. Forever.
Sisters call each other sobbing with worry about their mother who is in the hospital so far away. They ache with worry and love and curse the miles, because while the distance doesn't weaken the love they have for each other and their mother it does make everything so damn hard.
Sisters call and hand the phones to their toddlers and small children screaming, Say hi to your tia! Don't press the buttons! Just sing that song you learned at play group for tia and your cousins, please. They ask for advice about teething and homework and laugh and cry about how crazy and hard and wonderful it is to have these little people in their lives.
Sisters call and say, I miss you. Come back to California. Come to New York. I miss you. I love you. I miss you.
This essay was inspired by Rick Moody's short story entitled "Boys." I was intrigued by the repetition of the phrase, "boys enter the house." I wanted to see if I could create an essay with a similar pattern to each segment. If you haven't read "Boys" yet, you really should.