When Angy was younger, she would sit on her sisters’ bed and watch the older girl tape magazine pages to her wall. Clara had a thing for boys with strong cheekbones and dark hair, the pattern was evident to Angy who spent a lot of time listening to her sister gush about whichever popular boy they went to high school with. Often Angy would wonder why she never felt the same way about the boys that Clara did. She even had an English class with her sisters’ second biggest crush. And every time he smiled at Angy she would try her hardest to understand why her sister liked him. Each time though, she found herself left disappointed. Her sister had terrible taste in boys.
After Clara graduates, Angy doesn’t have to listen to boy talk anymore but she’s more lonely than she’s ever been. Her sister is her best friend and without her, Angy doesn’t really have anyone. The girls she sees the most in school, Alex and Caden have both recently gotten boyfriends. And the sound of lips smacking against each other makes Angy’s skin crawl so she doesn’t see them like she used to. They don’t seem to notice or mind.
The summer before college, Angy got her first boyfriend. A guy from her senior English class, James. He was nice and he was quiet and Angy thought she liked him. They would sometimes go to the movies together and Angy always enjoyed the conversations they had afterward. James was smart. James also wanted to kiss Angy and hold her hand and put her hand down the front of his pants while they sat together in the car. It was something she hadn’t expected and at first, didn’t quite know how to react to. He wanted her to touch him for what? He wanted to always have his lips pressed to hers for what? And when Angy had asked him about it, after spending ten minutes awkwardly trying to kiss him back and move her hand at the same time, James hadn’t really had an answer for her.
“You make my dick hard.”
After he drops her back home, Angy texts James that maybe them hanging out so much isn’t a good idea. She doesn’t want to spend all their time together kissing and touching when they could be talking and laughing. Angy reads the text message over several times before she sends it to him, hoping that she’s explained herself fully and in a way he can understand.
James calls her and laughs at her.
Angy spends the rest of the summer in her room. She doesn’t even tell anyone which day she’s leaving for school or when she’ll be back. Alex and Caden don’t text her goodbye, Angy finds out from social media that they’re practically living with their boyfriends now. Both of them seemed to have forgotten Angy’s entire existence.
It doesn’t matter though, because Clara texts her and asks Angy if she’s on her way. Angy packs the last of her boxes into the trunk of her Dad’s truck and doesn’t bother to look back once she’s buckled in her seat and they’re turning onto the highway.
College is very different from high school. But it’s also very much the same. Clara is a junior and Angy a freshman. Her sister has already moved off campus and although Angy spends a lot of time there, she can’t spend all her time in her sisters living room. Her roommate in her dorm is nice enough, a small girl named Kathy. She’s beautiful and she knows it, her boyfriend knows it too. Angy wonders if he ever gets tired of having her pretty much glued to his hip. Then she wonders if Kathy ever gets tired of always having someone in her space. She’d asked her roommate about it once, but the girl’s answer hadn’t made much sense.
“We’re addicted to each other,” She winked at Angy. “The sex is amazing.”
Angy went to bed that night wonder what amazing sex had to do with letting your personal space be taken away.
“You’re thinking about it too hard Angy,” Clara tells her the next time she’s sitting at her kitchen table doing her homework. “It’s human nature to want to fuck, you just gotta find the right person. Just because it didn’t work out with James doesn’t mean it won’t with someone else.”
Angy isn’t sure Clara’s right but she doesn’t say anything. Maybe she hasn’t met the right person yet.
She meets Ashley by chance, they have the same sociology class together and they awkwardly stand together one morning waiting for the door to be opened. Only the professor doesn’t show up and by the time it’s twenty minutes past start time, the rest of the class has wandered away.
Ashley bangs on the door one last time, sucking her teeth and muttering about professors being unprofessional. She kicks the door with the toe of her heeled boot and a pen drops out of her backpack, rolling over to Angy. It’s a black ink one with a theme designed on it. Angy picks it up and studies it for a moment before she looks up and holds it out to Ashley.
“You can keep it.” Ashley waves a hand, she’s digging around in her purse. “I’ve got so many of those things in my dorm.”
Angy blinks a few times before she slips the pen into the side pocket of her backpack. The two of them are still the only ones standing in front of the door.
“You’re Angelica right?” Ashley asks, pulling out her syllabus for the class and glancing over it. “Clara’s sister.”
Angy nods. “You know Clara?”
Ashley laughs and nods. “I do.” She grins at Angy, folding the syllabus back up and replacing it in her purse. “You could say she’s like my big sister.”
Angy doesn’t know what to say, but she smiles at Ashley anyways.
“You wanna grab lunch?”
Angy doesn’t see a reason to say no.
Two months later, Clara throws a party and Angy doesn’t have any choice but to attend. It’s her sisters’ party, first of all, and Kathy is going and so is Ashley. If she doesn’t go, she’ll never hear the end of it.
Angy even goes the extra mile and lets Ashley dress her. She wants to try and understand what is so fun about being hot and sweaty around other people. Angy wants to process correctly why people have a need to drink alcohol and socialize. So she attends her sisters’ party with her roommate and her best friend. In a tight dress with high heels and her face made up. She’d let Ashley go the whole nine yards.
Clara’s house is packed with people. There isn’t a room that’s empty and there isn’t a seat that isn’t being sat upon. It makes Angy’s skin itch, to see her sisters space so full of people. She isn’t able to dwell on it for long, almost as soon as the house fills up Ashley is shoving a red cup into her hands and pulling her through the groups of people.
There’s no ice in her cup, so Angy struggles to force the liquor down. She thinks about mentioning to Ashley that she should have asked Clara to make their drinks. Her sister knows exactly how to make her drinks so that Angy doesn’t taste the alcohol. It all works out though because soon Ashley is pulling her back into the kitchen and Clara just so happens to be in there as well.
She takes the red cup from her sister, she looks in it and sucks her teeth.
“My sisters picky about her drinks,” Clara explains to Ashley. “You need just the right amount of ice and if you have it, a chaser for her to gulp down afterward.”
Ashely’s listening intently to the older woman and Angy can’t help but find the whole situation strange. Her best friend being taught how to make her drinks the right way by her older sister. It’s weird.
Again though, she isn’t given long to think about it. Clara’s quick and within minutes Angy’s drink has been made and put back in her hands. And of course, Ashley is soon pulling her back through the party. Back into having to socialize with a bunch of people she barely knows.
They’re sitting on the steps, drinking and laughing when suddenly Ashley is taking her hand and pulling her to her feet.
“What’s wrong?” Angy asks, she’s surprised her words aren’t slurred yet.
“It’s kinda loud down here don’t you think?” Ashley asks leading Angy up the stairs. “Let’s go somewhere quieter.”
Angy lets out a sigh of relief. Finally, she’s getting away from all the noise, she’s getting a chance to relax. Maybe even actually enjoy the drink she’s been swallowing down because it’s expected of her.
They end up in the bathroom, her sisters’ bedroom is locked and the guest bedroom already occupied. Angy doesn’t want to think about what whoever is in there doing. Ashley shuts the door behind them and locks it, her thin fingers switching the lock with ease.
Angy jumps up onto the cabinet, setting her cup next to her and letting out a deep sigh.
“You okay?” Ashley asks as she checks her makeup in the mirror.
“Yeah, it’s just overwhelming.” Angy shrugs. “My sister loves people, she always has.”
Ashley laughs. “She throws a good party, I’ll give her that.” She looks at Angy in the mirror. “Are you having fun?”
Angy shrugs, swinging her legs a bit. “I guess, I mean it’s kind of boring to me. Just drinking and talking to people about things I don’t really care about.”
Ashley grins and puts down her mascara. The tub rolling across the counter and coming to rest against Angy’s thigh.
“Well let’s liven things up a little bit huh?”
Angy turns to give Ashley a questioning look but she doesn’t get the chance to. Her friend is suddenly moving and reaching for Angy at the same time. Her fingers are clammy as they touch Angy’s cheeks and come to grip in her hair. The other woman had moved between Angy’s legs, pressing herself close to the point she’s against the cabinet itself and her chest is pressed to Angy’s.
Ashley kisses Angy hard, her lips smashing against the girl on the cabinets. Angy finds she can’t move, as if someone or something has reached through the mirror behind her and holds her in place, Angy can only sit and feel her friends lips moving against hers. She pushes her tongue into Angy’s mouth and whether it’s the taste of another person or the feel of Ashley’s tongue against her Angy isn’t sure but it shocks her enough to the point of moving. Angy’s hands find Ashley’s shoulders and grip them firmly before she shoves.
Her friend falls back, arms flailing in the arm. Angy thinks she might actually tip back into the tub but she doesn’t wait to see. She hops down from the cabinet, knocking her red cup over in the process. There’s a crash behind her as her fingers slip on the lock of the door but Angy is able to clumsily flip it open and twist the handle.
She’s out the bathroom and down the stairs before she hears Ashley calling after her.
Clara’s in the living room and she sees Angy rushing down the stairs. She meets her little sister at the front door, blocking her path and demanding to know what’s wrong. Angy doesn’t think she’s crying, her face doesn’t feel wet but her sister doesn’t move out of the way even when she tells her that she’s fine.
They stand in front of the door, quietly arguing for a moment. Angy insisting that she’s fine and just needs air and Clara not falling for the bullshit excuse in the slightest. It isn’t until Angy hears her name behind her, coming from Ashley’s confused voice, does she shove past her sister.
The night air is cold against her face but Angy welcomes it. Her sister doesn’t live far from campus. She can walk back.
There are footsteps behind her, frantic and rushed and Angy ignores them. There’s only one pair so at least she’s sure that not both Ashley and Clara followed her. Only one of them did. Angy won’t turn around to look but she hopes silently that the one to follow her wasn’t her sister.
“Jesus Ang, slow down!”
Angy can’t be granted any small mercies tonight apparently.
Her sister is buttoning the last button on her coat when she finally falls into step with Angy. There’s something draped over her right arm and when she holds it out to Angy she sees more evidence that her big sister is exactly that. A big sister. The coat is dark green and new, Angy isn’t sure she’s ever seen it before. She slides her arms in and zips it up, burrowing down in the warmth.
“So,” Clara clears her throat. “You wanna tell me what’s happening?”
Angy sighs. Her eyes sting with unexpected tears and Angy blinks rapidly, suddenly mad and frustrated with herself. Clara waits, patiently and silently while Angy wrestles to get herself together. They walk two whole blocks before Angy can decide on what to say.
“I….I don’t understand people.”
She winces and sneaks a glance at her sister.
Clara is looking ahead, her eyes scanning the dark streets ahead of them. Checking and making sure it’s safe. Big sister Clara, Angy thinks with a small smile.
“Is that all?”
Angy shakes her head and takes a deep breath.
“Everyone’s so obsessed with sex.” She says, the words suddenly wanting to come bubbling out. “I don’t understand it, I don’t get it and I don’t want to get it. It seems like all everyone wants to do is have sex, or talk about the sex they’re having. It’s weird and it’s honestly kinda gross.” She looks at Clara again. “Ashley kissed me in the bathroom and I panicked.”
Clara meets her eyes. “Why’d you panic?”
“I don’t like kissing.” Angy stresses. “I don’t understand why everyone else does. And I don’t understand why I have to like it just because you guys do.”
She sees her sister smile and Angy huffs.
“Relax,” Clara says, linking her arm with Angy’s as they come to a stop at a red light. “I’m not laughing at you.” She looks up and down the street, there aren’t any cars. “It’s just not like you to get caught up in something like this.” She tugs Angy across the street, against the red light.
“I’m not caught up in anything,” Angy says defensively. “I just wish my friends would stop wanting to kiss me.”
Clara nods. “And that’s perfectly okay to want that.”
Angy looks at her warily. “That’s not what it seems like.”
“Angy, if you don’t want anyone touching you or kissing you or dating you that’s completely in your right,” Clara says firmly. “You don’t have to let someone be close to you just because everyone else has someone close to them.”
Angy chews on her lip and looks around, watching the dark shadows as they pass them.
“It makes me feel like an outsider.” She says quietly, her stomach clenching with embarrassment as she speaks. “Like there might be something wrong with me, with my mind.”
“There’s not,” Clara says sharply. She stops walking, forcing Angy to do the same. “Ang, I’m serious.” Clara unloops their arms just so she can grab her sister by the shoulders. “There’s nothing wrong with you, do you hear me?”
Angy looks at her sister. It’s not often that they get serious with each other, very rarely does the situation call for it. She’s heard this kind of firmness in her sisters’ voice a handful of times. It always catches her by surprise.
Clara squeezes her shoulders, bringing Angy back into focus.
“I hear you.” Angy nods, sniffing quietly. “I hear you, sis.”
If she doesn’t believe her, Angy can’t tell but Clara nods her head and they start walking again. The dorm rooms are within sight now.
Her sister walks her all the way back to her dorm door. The older of the two mumbling about how much it had changed since she had been there.
“You were just here not even two years ago.” Angy snorts opening her door and peeking inside. It’s dark, Kathy must still be at the party.
“Are you gonna be okay?” Clara asks.
Angy nods, smiling at her sister. “Of course I am, I just needed to vent.” She starts to unzip the coat but Clara’s hand stops hers.
“Keep it.” Her sister rolls her eyes. “I know you haven’t bought one yet so I got you one.”
Angy smirks. “I appreciate you.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Clara pulls out her phone. “I’m gonna order an Uber. Come over tomorrow?”
Angy thinks about it for a minute before nodding. “Yeah okay, I’ll text you.”
Clara taps away at her phone, already walking down the hallway. Angy watches her go for a moment. She’s just about to go into her room when her sister calls out to her.
She sticks her head back out of the door, meeting her sisters’ eyes all the way down the hallway.
“There’s nothing wrong with you,” Clara says firmly. “Okay?”
They hold each other gaze for a long moment. Angy can feel a wave of emotions crashing over her, the words her sister chose to emphasize and the fact she came after her in the first place. Angy doesn’t think anyone will ever understand her the way her sister does. And she’s grateful for that.
Angy takes a deep breath and smiles at her sister.