The Passed Note Issue 1 June 2016 - Page 23

copying me? Live your own fucking life for once.”

It’s mean. It’s terrible. Everything my father has ever said to soothe my frustration rings in my head.

She copies you because she wants to be like you.

You two could be a team instead of opponents.

I think she’s been lost since her father left.

But by using me to define who she is, Des has made me lose myself. The things I want…I can’t tell anymore if I truly want them, or if it’s just because of her.

For the first time all day, I get what I actually want: Des’s face crumples just enough before she can catch herself, then she spins on her heel and disappears.

I scan the remaining faces in the living room. None of the people from school are paying me any attention; they’re more preoccupied with the free alcohol. I move closer to the Bucknell packet still on display.

Maybe I’m the true weak link in this family. Not Donny, with his constant slacking and sharp sarcasm. Not Carol, who feeds this rivalry like wood tossed onto a bonfire. And not Des. Maybe it’s me.

The blue and orange letters of the Bucknell car decal stare up at me. I think about my car, stranded in the driveway with a ripped open tire. I slip the sticker into my jacket pocket and slide out the side door.

I charge through the snow. Mom says winter is in my blood—I was born during the worst December blizzard in six years. You sensed the snow and just had to come out and say hi, she always jokes. Every year, I build snowmen until my mittens soak through and Dad drags me back into the house to warm up. I leave Des behind in the wintertime. In two days, I’ll be eighteen. An adult. And she’ll still be a child until the spring.

I drop to my knees next to the hedgerow, a mess of trees and rocks and snow, and I start to dig. My fingertips turn pink in seconds, snow and dirt under my nails, but I keep scooping until I’ve made