A woman goes in search of an absent sister, an empty house and a mysterious forest in Lizzy Stewart’s graphic story
I was always jealous of my friends who had sisters. Sisters with long hair and stacks of magazines scattered across the floor. Sisters with posters on their walls and boys in their bedrooms. Sisters who were small and sweet and sat willingly through hours of plaiting and polishing and maternal mimicry. I pined for those sisters, longed for them.
I had a sister.
She was seventeen years older than me; my parents always evading the question, Was she too early, or was I too late? It had to be that one of us was at fault. I hoped it was her.
A few months after I was born, she left home to study nursing in a city five hours north of ours. She came home twice a year, though I barely remember those visits. Then she moved abroad.
A girl in my class also had a sister who was older and that sister had a baby. The girl, aged twelve, was an aunt. We all found that deliciously complicated and interesting. We asked her questions all day long.
Does your sister have a baby? asked a girl with round glasses and a flat, dull face. I don’t think so, I replied. I remember the girl’s expression and the deep pain of embarrassment. Why didn’t I know? Why didn’t she want me to know?
After that, my sister became a bruise. I pressed at it when I wanted to dislike myself. She doesn’t want to know you, you don’t interest her. The drama of the rejection suited the view I had of myself as a teenager – lonely and lumpen and fundamentally unlovable.