Three Little Sisters and How They Grew

Submitted into Contest #131 in response to: Write a story about a group of sisters, or a group of brothers.... view prompt


American Contemporary Creative Nonfiction

Three Little Sisters and How They Grew

Once upon a time there were three little sisters: The Pretty One, The Smart One, and The Artistic One. Each one knew her station in life, for their mother had taught them well, lining them up, pointing to each in turn and saying, “You’re The Pretty One,” “You’re the Smart One,” and “You’re the Artistic One.” She did that a couple of times a year, so they wouldn’t forget. And they never forgot (though I am happy to say that eventually they stopped believing it; well, not The Pretty One; she believed she was the pretty one ‘way up into her seventies).

The Mother had also cautioned them not to encroach on each other’s territory, and that life was a competition, but one should only participate in one’s area. The Pretty One didn’t need to worry about being smart (which she actually was) or artistic; pretty was sufficient for her. The Smart One, who was actually very pretty and quite artistic, never felt pretty till she was thirty years old. The Artistic One, who was Stark Raving Beautiful and also smart as a whip, being the youngest child in the family, claimed her beauty and her brains from the beginning; to Hell with the rules.

The Pretty One didn’t much care for school, not considering it important to her destiny – to be beautiful and marry a rich man who adored her beauty.

The Smart One loved school and made excellent grades. She was devastated when she wasn’t an Honor Graduate at her high school graduation; she needed one tiny tenth of a point and the school wouldn’t budge. Assholes, they were. To make it worse, her frenemy Lane was an honor grad, which didn’t seem fair, because The Smart One had taken Latin and Chemistry, and Lane had taken Shorthand and Typing. But she got over it and eventually earned three college degrees. Lane went to a trade school and earned a certificate in Secretarial Skills.

The Artistic One dreamt of attending an art college and having a career in the arts. But something happened in the family that made her parents refuse to send her to The Big City on her own, and her dreams were dashed.

The Pretty One quit high school and got married at sixteen. The mother told a relative when he railed at her, that she couldn’t stop her. She was afraid she’d get pregnant out of wedlock if they didn’t let her marry. The Pretty One, who was not indeed pregnant when she married, lost her first baby and later had a daughter. Her husband, who was older, taught her to enjoy the fruit of the vine and was duly impressed that she could drink him and his friends under the table. Then the marriage got rocky because his friends and other men had also noticed how pretty she was, and she did enjoy the attention. She started to drink way too much. She got divorced when she was twenty-five. Thank God she was still pretty.

The Smart One went to college for two years and was doing quite well, majoring first in Biology and then changing to Elementary Education when she thought about the differences in teaching adolescents and in teaching cute little kids.

Then The Things That Changed Everything happened.

Their younger brother, Ricky, who was between The Smart One and The Artistic One, died in a terrible car accident one day while on his lunch hour at work. He had recently married and left a seventeen-year-old widow.

It was as bad as it could be, yet it could have been worse. The brother wasn’t doing anything wrong or stupid; there was no alcohol or racing or any kind of horseplay; he was riding with a friend who had put a catalytic converter on his car, and since the brother had the same kind of car, he wanted to see the difference it made in the ride. When the friend pulled out to pass a big truck and then realized a car had made a left turn and was approaching him, he didn’t know what to do, so he headed for the ditch. Ricky went through the windshield and died of a head injury. Ricky died at the hands of an inexperienced driver.

And that stopped the family cold. They had not experienced anything even close to that event. Yes, the Pretty One had lost a baby, but that didn’t compare to this. This was The First Thing That Changed Everything.

It was followed closely by The Second Thing That Changed Everything. The Smart One had realized that she was passably pretty after all and began to enjoy male companionship. And she was the one who wound up pregnant. Oops.

So, as a reaction to losing their son and having a wanton daughter, the parents refused to let The Artistic One, their youngest, go to The Big City to art college. As a result, when The Pretty One got divorced, she and The Artistic One moved in together and shared an apartment in another town. The Pretty One, who was by now a raging alcoholic, taught The Artistic One how to party. Really party.

So The Artistic One met a Deejay (a married Deejay), and married him immediately after he got divorced. They moved to another state, lived with his mom for awhile, and had three babies. They moved into a single-wide trailer “just until we build a house.” Deejay had times when he really didn’t feel like working, so The Artistic One worked, two jobs part of the time and also sold Mary Kay. At 43, she developed breast cancer, and came pretty darn close to dying, but she didn’t die. Now, married cheating deejays are not prone to change their evil ways, and this one certainly did not. When his wife got fed up with his promiscuity and lies and threatened to leave, he’d go back to church and play Christian for just long enough to persuade her to stay. Eventually he moved out and took up residence with his latest girlfriend, and the two of them started an online church, because religion. They also founded an online divinity school which conferred exactly one doctorate: his. But The Pretty One stayed, for twenty-eight years. They divorced when his girlfriend insisted that he marry her.

Along the way, The Pretty One had married and divorced three more times, each time to a fellow alcoholic. When she finally got sober, in her early forties, her fourth husband realized he didn’t really want to be married to a sober woman, even though the doctor had assured her that she could choose to drink, or she could choose to live. She chose to live, and he found a new drinking partner online. By this time, her health was deteriorating, and she really wasn’t all that pretty anymore.

The Smart One gave her baby up for adoption, though it destroyed her to do so, but not being willing to bring a child home to the same dysfunctional circus  she grew up in, and not seeing a way to provide for her on her own, she did it. She went back to college, became an elementary school teacher, married a professor, adopted his two young daughters and had two little boys. The professor was quite Codependent Controlling, and she tried, she really did, to make the marriage work, even long after she realized she’d made a terrible mistake. She divorced the professor after she suffered a Major Depressive Episode and spent a month on the psych ward, took her boys (the girls were gone already) and moved to a house across town. A few years later, she remarried an electrician who turned out to be a lying, cheating sumbitch, so she divorced him, too. She moved to the mountains to enjoy her retirement.

As it turned out, all three sisters moved together to the mountains to enjoy their golden years. The Pretty One had moved to the town The Smart One lived in so that The Smart One could help her with her various medical conditions. So when The Smart One left the Sumbitch and moved in with The Artistic One four hundred or so miles away, The Pretty One came along, too. Soon after, the three of them moved across the state to the small town where The Smart One’s son lived. They bought a nice house and named it Wrinkle Ridge.

And there they live, to this very day. They’ve mostly outgrown their upbringing, and they mostly get along very well. The Pretty One still considers herself quite the looker at 73, and she is the only one with a boyfriend (he’s 78 and almost blind, but still….)

The Artistic One is in charge of home décor and finances. The house looks nice and that girl can find a bargain if there’s one to be found. She even paints a bit.

And The Smart One is writing and working in the yard and volunteering sometimes and enjoying living near her son and his family. Thanks to Ancestry DNA, her daughter found her and they are making up for lost time. She has two beautiful grandchildren she’s getting to know (that makes seven in all!)

And, of course, she wrote this story.

February 05, 2022 04:26

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18:39 Feb 06, 2022

This story should be a reminder for parents never to even try to label their offspring or limit their potential because the child will forever try to live up to what the parents tried to spoonfeed into their young brain and heart. Little girls should not have to depend on looks to get through life. Looks are great but if you can't carry on a meaningful conversation or fight your way out of a paper bag, what good is it. Better to be artistic that way you can think outside the box. All in all, life always has a way to make chaos out of a life ...


19:37 Feb 06, 2022

You are right, Kathryn. This story is 100% autobiographical. Thanks for reading and commenting.


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Jack Crisis
20:16 Feb 18, 2022


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