She walks with a slouch, my sister, as if she’s carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. Her eyes fixed straight ahead, her feet maintaining a steady pace and her hair tied up in a way that makes her look entirely too professional for a twenty-one year old. I often tell her to let loose, fool around, style her hair, get a boyfriend perhaps, because I am afraid she will turn into an up-tight, workaholic and bitter person who forgot to set straight her priorities in life in favour of misleading greener pastures. She never listens to me. We don’t share the same logic. We are both so alike in many ways, yet she is different. She is straight-laced, private and short tempered to my laidback, friendly rebel. She is the Einstein to my couch potato. She’s the no to my yes. She’s nothing when I’m upset with her and yet, she is everything to me.

She isn’t much of a talker, preferring to listen to people speak. But when she is with me, a day’s worth of suppressed thoughts come out and she tells me about her colleagues who irritate her, her bosses who gleefully play out the good cop-bad cop routine every other day, about that pastry shop around the corner that sells stale pastries, about the friend who only calls after midnight and about her desire to eat strawberry ice cream at that particular time. I can never say no to her. I let her do whatever she wants; I let her speak what she thinks. All I can do is listen. Because if I don’t, who will? It’s not like we have anyone else we know who is willing to give us the time of the day and listen to us crib and curse over things that always manage to go wrong. Our parents are a notch too grateful to ever understand the wonders of griping.

It’s always been us against the world, even when she is upset over something and decides that being rude to me and everyone around her is the only way to go; even when I’m just so tired to be rude in return and decide to let it pass…again. I wonder if she finds me as fascinating as I find her. Her smartness is something I admire, her hold over dad is something I envy and her derision and lack of sympathy towards mom is something I do not understand and yet I yearn to make her smile, to make her tell me how her day went, to do something nice or loveable that would earn me a hug and maybe a kiss on the cheek from her.

We call her the streetwalker, in the most literal sense of the word. She likes to walk. I coined the term back when she was still studying, preferring to walk to college instead of hiring wheels. She is a working woman now and she still prefers to walk to her workplace. Her office is not that far, but seeing her walk to work every day in the summer heat makes my gut twist. It makes me feel as if I went wrong somewhere, as if I haven’t done enough to make our lives easier. She never complains. But I can see it in the way she walks.

She walks with a slouch, my sister, as if she’s carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders.