prompt: mocha #1 'I think I can'
summary: Dee was good at sledding, snowmen, hockey. But not at reading, really. Jason gets a story, anyway.
Dee, book open in her lap, legs splayed around it on the motel comforter.
"Come on," she'd say, "Let me read it to you."
You remember her like that: knobby knees, chest flat as yours, cheeks flushed with red from running outside in the snow. Dee was good at sledding, snowmen, hockey. But not at reading, really. You hated how she hesitated at certain words, like English wasn't her first language (and it was). At eight, you knew the words she didn't, easy ones you'd repeat quietly. DEE-ter-mination. Deb-REE. Like the Es in your name, dummy, you'd tell her. You were eight.
"You think you know everything, but you don't," she'd say. Turning back to the book, licking her finger to turn the page, "'But then, no matter how hard she tried, she could not move the long train of cars'...I bet you didn't know the little engine was a she."
"Just shut up and read it, Dee."
You liked it the closer she got to the end--I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. There was something comforting in the rhythm of her words, the music of her voice. You could care less about steam engines, really, but this one had the voice of your sister and so you could sympathize with it, understand its struggles. You and the steam engine, she seems to be saying, you're not so different.
In retrospect, Dee was a crap babysitter, only eleven, and impatient. But she was your favorite, the only one willing to read the books you loved, the only one who'd tell you, truthfully, that Dad wouldn't be back that night. That Dad might be gone for a while.
Curled in her lap, basking in the glow of a neon VACANCY sign you might ask, "Can you read it again?" and tuck your pillow against her side, close your eyes, sleep.
I asked my boyfriend "does this sound like a drunk person wrote it?" and he was like "no, totally no." So I posted it :D