by Reese Scott

While his mother went next door, he was in charge of watching his little sister in the bath. She was maybe over a year now. He wasn’t sure. He had a small piece of paper by his knee. It was a short list of what he was to do and not to do.

  1. If she starts to cry or if anything happens just call the neighbors. The number is on the bottom of the page.
  2. If she starts to get upset or if anything out of the ordinary happens call the number on the bottom of the page.
  3. If you feel nervous call the number on the bottom of the page.

He sat on the floor. He put his hand in the bath. The water felt nice. His sister was staring down at her feet. She looked up at him and smiled. The smile looked like any other smile.

He imagined he could hear other little feet running up and down the stairs, running through the kitchen, out the door, then back in again. He looked at his sister. She looked dumb.

He continued reading the list his mother had given him.

4. If she starts to cough call the number on the bottom of the page.

5. Remember if anything goes wrong, I mean anything, call the number on the bottom of the page.

He looked at his sister in the bath. She was a baby. But it wasn’t his baby. It wasn’t his sister. At least not to him. To him she was just something. But something that bothered him. He didn’t know why he hated her. He didn’t know why he didn’t like holding her. Maybe it was because his mother wouldn’t let him. Or maybe his mother knew he didn’t want to. But he knew that wasn’t true. Since his sister had showed up he felt like he didn’t know his mom anymore.

It was hard enough watching her walk around month after month talking to her pregnant stomach. Telling his unborn sister how much she loved her. How special she was. How happy she was going to be. How everything would be wonderful. During this period, he couldn’t remember his mother saying very much to him. The only thing he knew was he now walked himself to school and had to be quiet all the time. They no longer had dinner together. She no longer read him stories when he went to bed. When he couldn’t sleep he couldn’t go into her room. When he had bad dreams he no longer had someone to help him hide.

As his mother’s stomach grew, so did everything else. The food was either cold when it was supposed to be hot or hot when it was supposed to be cold. There were no more cartoons allowed on the television, and they celebrated his birthday a day late because his mother wasn’t feeling well.

He felt warm. Like he was getting a fever. He took some water from the bath and put it on his head. His sister began to cry. Some of the water must have gotten in her eye or she was probably crying because he took some of her water. He didn’t like her. He didn’t like her at all. She continued crying. He put his hand in the bath and took some more water and put it on his head. She began to wail. He took more water until his clothes were wet. His sister kept crying. So he took more water until there was hardly any water left.

He looked at his sister. He looked at the note. None of it made sense. He turned the water back on so his mother wouldn’t notice. He watched the water fill up the tub until it was over his sister’s head. He counted the bubbles as they floated to the top of the water. He liked counting.

Reese Scott is from New York. He is currently living in California.