The first thing I ever did to indicate the direction I was heading resulted from letting my kid sister, Kate, annoy me. I was 3.3 at the time and tiny for my age; she was a martinet of 2 and already bigger and brighter than me.
We lived in a drafty 19th century farmhouse on the brick street of a south side neighborhood in a small midwestern town back then, where her crib sat in my parents bedroom, being used one night to corral us while company visited.
It was late. We were lying back-to-back. I was weary and wanting to sleep. She was incessantly demanding that I “Get out! Get out! Get out! Get out!” of her bed until I got fed up and gave her a reason to bellyache.
I peed on her.
That was my crime.
As punishment, every person Kate introduced me to from that night onward included the preamble, “This is my sister, Margie. When we were kids she peed on me,” invariably prompting the retelling of our toddler turf war.
The last time she introduced me was to her late shift hospice nurse in May of 2015. It’s allowed her to maintain the upper hand on my heart, forevermore.
When I was not quite five I crossed a busy street in the middle of the block after being warned never to do so.
That was my crime.
As punishment I was, first, hit by a taxicab, and then vilified by my kindergarten teacher, Miss Beech, for losing the school’s celebrated green-and-white stick figure safety flag awarded to the most accident-free district. I spent all of kindergarten, first, and much of second grade shunned.
The alienation ended when we moved from our neighborhood into the school district that was presented the prestigious safety flag after my mishap.
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Copyright Marguerite Quantaine © 2017
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Marguerite Quantaine is an essayist and author.
Her novel, Imogene’s Eloise : Inspired by a true-love story
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