Who Will Clean Out My Sister's Tent Now That She Is Gone?

Submitted into Contest #179 in response to: Your character always makes the same promise; to change. Will they finally make it happen this time?... view prompt

79 comments

Sad Fiction Contemporary

This story contains themes or mentions of substance abuse.

TW: drug use, addiction, death.


Having risen several inches since the recent storm, the river’s level is high. Its rushing stream should be sonorous, but instead it is just a hushed drone mumbling in the back of my mind as I watch it bustling by, silenced by the overwhelming odiferous wave of decay and manure. They pulled out one thousand tires, tens of mattresses, car parts, animal carcasses, batteries, and other debris from the brown sludge last year in their efforts to “clean up the city”, yet standing here, I cannot tell. "Clean" is certainly not a word to describe the scene in front of me, and I fear the length and depth of this embodied water hides more than any volunteer group could ever uncover. I wonder if anyone would even want to. Some secrets are meant to remain hidden.


I am not even ten feet from where water meets the land, and this is where they told me she was staying. This was her “camp” as the officers say, her “home” as my mother had called it, parroting my sister’s words. This is where they found her.


There is a structure, not a home, but a collection of large branches intentionally stuck into the ground with several tarps strung over them. Glass bottles and cans are stacked and organized around a nearby tree. Garbage bags stuffed to the brim with an assortment of things like clothes, blankets, shoes, trash, and canned food are scattered around the small hillside. Several bike frames and various parts are turned over on the ground. The place looks like a junk yard, except for a small area where steps are molded out of dirt, leading from the tent to the water’s edge, a border decorated around them with neatly placed stones and a small plant holder filled with soil; a wilted stem indicates there was once a flower sprouting from it. Mud is everywhere.


When we were little, we were not mud kids. Coming from a middle-class suburban home, we were just a regular family of four who spent a lot of their time in their house together. We ate family meals every evening and had family nights, playing games or watching movies together on the weekends. My sister and I liked to play with dolls and ride bikes and draw pictures and play with yarn. We read books from the warmth of our beds, which were laden with blankets and soft, plush toy animals. We stacked pillows along the walls of our beds.


On rainy days we would drag all of the wool and cotton and fluff out into the living room to build forts with our furniture. Being five years younger than Callie, I always followed my sister’s instructions on where to put the pillows and blankets and how to arrange the chairs so there’d be a nice open space inside the fort for us to sit in. Callie would run around the house collecting flashlights (since she was tall enough to reach them from the closet) and grab her favorite book. We’d stowaway inside the fort for hours, and she would read me chapter after chapter of Harry Potter, explaining any big words or scenes that made my face contort with misunderstanding – she wanted to make sure I was with her throughout the whole magical wizarding adventure. She had patience with me, and I would point out small words as she read, pinning my finger on words like “the” and “to” as I slowly started to recognize the pattern of letters. She’d congratulate me, the proud big sister she was: “Good job, Cece!”


After my sister went to high school, our lives seemed to separate entirely. She spent more time with her friends than with me, and when she wasn’t with them, she was locked up in her room, draining the landline. She didn’t want to build forts with me anymore, saying that was “kid’s stuff”, and she’d rolled her eyes when I stumbled over new words in my early chapter books.


I remember the first time she yelled at me when she caught me trying on some of her clothes, telling me to get the hell out of her life and leave her alone. Later that night she’d apologized, another moment I’d remember forever, the way she said “I love you, you know that.” But the thing she didn’t realize was I didn’t know that. I was too young to understand that you can be that mean to someone you love, and then just apologize it away like it never happened. That was the moment I felt the divide between us solidify. I went from having a big sister to being an only child. I gave up my efforts to persuade her to spend time with me, and instead learned to play by myself.


Our mother had comforted me and assured me, “This is normal, Cec. She’s just at a different stage in her life than you are right now. When you’re older, you two will pick up right where you left off.”


What my mother was trying to say was a high school girl striving for independence is no cause for concern. Normally, this is true. But in Callie’s case, we didn’t find out until later just how wrong we were. No one could have anticipated what was unfolding gradually and silently within my sister.


She never did come back to me to pick up where we left off, at least not really. I was still in Junior high school when she moved out of the house to live with her boyfriend. She was an adult, and I was a child. What could I offer her?


Once or twice, Callie had invited me out for a spa day to get our nails done together – having her nails manicured had become a priority in her life since her senior year in high school. She wanted to share this with me, to have some “sisterly time,” using her regular routine activity as a chance to bond, rather than inquiring about my interests and asking me what I wanted to do. She would have gone with or without me, but she’d said she wanted to make an effort to “get together” once a month to see me. It had felt like how I imagined a parent with only partial custody might make an effort to see their child. She’d asked me about boys and girlfriend drama, things that I was just being introduced to, but hadn’t quite grasped yet through personal experience. It wasn’t like she’d really known, or even cared to know, anything about my life. Her questions, her interests, seemed to further the divide between us, making her feel more estranged now than when we were still living, however silently, under the same roof. She’d seemed like such a different person than the one I grew up playing with.


I found out about my sister’s addiction through an email during my last year of high school. My father, in his rage and despair, sent it out to all of our family members, a public announcement, the night before my senior prom. Black tar heroin were the words underlined and bolded, the words that rang in my ears as I sped out of my school’s parking lot, unable to collect myself enough to get to third period Calculus. I’d driven myself to a park high on a cliff that overlooked the levee and sobbed. I cried as if my sister had died that day, because in my mind, she already had. It was not common, nor was it easy, to come back from an addiction like that. At least, that’s what I’d heard. Needless to say, I didn't go to prom.


The next decade of our lives my parents devoted all their resources to trying to get my sister back, to getting “Callie” back - because that is what heroin does to a person: it buries them deep down within the shell of their body until they are an unrecognizable soul within a familiar face. My mother offered rehab, putting all her faith in the miracle of professional intervention. My father, who'd once been obsessed with Kintsugi, the Japanese practice of fixing pottery with gold, begged my sister to come home, thinking the house she grew up in would run like gold through her broken pieces, making her more beautiful and whole once again, like the innocent infant who'd made him a father.


But Callie had excuses for turning down both of my parents' offerings. And when she was fired from her job and became homeless, pan-handling and ripping off street bikes and liquor stores, my parents wouldn't - or couldn't - let go. They still sent her money; they paid for her food; they waited for her at restaurants while she spent thirty minutes in the bathroom; they believed in her empty promises, every January my mother excitedly clapping at Callie’s New Year’s Resolution to “get clean”, as if the striking of midnight could heal the years of needle markings along her arms.


I was not as patient with Callie as my parents were. I’d cut ties with her completely. I couldn’t handle seeing her as someone she wasn’t. I was devastated and angry – angry at her for choosing a life like this; for not knowing any better and making horrible choices; for leaving me behind; for not being a big sister. I was still hurt that she’d grown so far apart from me as a child when I needed her guidance the most, and then just when we’d reached an age that my mother swore we would reconnect, she stole that from me by choosing this.


I moved on with my life, living as I’d grown accustomed to, as an only child, coming home for holidays to just my parents. Callie’s absence was the unspoken topic of every gathering, only realized by the soft mumblings between my parents and the hidden tears my mother left in the corner of the kitchen. By Easter, she’d sobbed, She said this would be the year, and by Thanksgiving, hopeful again, She’s excited for a fresh start next year!


I, on the hand, had never been convinced or hopeful of my sister’s worthless weaving of words every year. I saw Callie for what she was: gone. And I’d, righteously or not, accepted it.


She chose this, I think, looking around at the muddy river, the trash, the pesticides from the farm steaming up out of the water. I imagine Callie’s perfectly manicured fingernails packed with dirt, placing rocks along the stairs she’d made and adding a flower beside them to create a homey feel.


Home, the word rings in my ear.


“You almost done out here?” the officer asks, standing behind me with his hands on his hips. Being Callie’s only surviving kin, he’d driven me out here to collect any of her personal belongings that might be considered sentimental.


“Almost,” I say. “Give me five more minutes?” He nods and heads back up the hill, giving me space to sift through the piddling items my sister has left behind to the world. I bend down as I step into the small space within the tarp shelter my sister built, feeling an eerie and unpleasant sense of de’ja vu - our memories of building forts together as little girls now tarnished with dirt and scraps from a dump yard, with years of brokenness and estrangement in between. I recognize nothing as a thing of value, let alone sentiment, and I am about to step out when something catches my eye, an object squished up against the far side of the tarp-wall where a naked stain-covered twin mattress sits.


When I find the officer at the top of the slope, he asks, “You ready?”


I nod. “What happens to the rest of my sister’s stuff?”


Candidly and without a hint of sympathy, he says, “The city will send a crew out here to clean up all that stuff. This kind of thing happens pretty often.”


Down the dirt road, the drive back takes nearly twenty minutes. I sit in the back of the police car, thumbing through the one item I deemed worth saving, a battered and wet copy of the first Harry Potter book. I have never wanted to imagine my sister as she was before she died, but as I turn the pages of the book, I imagine her sitting beneath her tarps, the rain and wind threatening to rip it apart, and I wonder if she remembered my first efforts at reading as I do, with her by my side.


Suddenly, the pages of the book stop beneath my thumb, filleting open to a page separated by a rectangular piece of wilted cardstock. When I pull it out, I realize it is not a piece of cardstock, but a photograph, its gloss withered with age. It takes me a moment to realize who the people are in the photo, their faces beaming with youth and unblemished skin. Their arms are slung around each other in a tight hug, and their smiles are wide. Then, it becomes stunningly clear who I am looking at: I see my five-year old face, her cheeks squished up against the other person in the photo. I see myself. I see Callie.


It is the first time I cry since the officers called me.

January 01, 2023 00:28

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79 comments

Lindsay Flo
12:53 Jan 04, 2023

Ugh. This made me tear up. I think as a parent reading stuff like this is really harrowing, because often people who've made bad choices didn't start out that way. Lots of addicts were once a little girl named Callie reading under a fort with her sister :( Favorite part: My father, who'd once been obsessed with Kintsugi, the Japanese practice of fixing pottery with gold, begged my sister to come home, thinking the house she grew up in would run like gold through her broken pieces, making her more beautiful and whole once again, like the in...

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AnneMarie Miles
15:26 Jan 04, 2023

Hi Lindsay! Thanks for these kind words! It's so true about addiction and other poor choices made it adulthood. When you have a child yourself, it's hard not to see the child in everyone else, too. I'm really glad you like that big about Kintsugi. I just edited that into the story yesterday and I want sure if it was a necessary addition but I liked it. Glad you did too. I'll be heading over to your page at some point today :)

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Amanda Lieser
19:37 Jan 05, 2023

Anne, This piece was beautifully DEVASTATING. I loved the way you portrayed the pain of loving someone dealing with the illness of addiction. I loved that final paragraph. I have all my fingers and toes crossed that this story earns the recognition it deserves. All my love to you!

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AnneMarie Miles
21:22 Jan 05, 2023

Oh thank you, Amanda! I'm glad you found the beauty in the devastation. I like to keep my expectations low, but when you love a piece so much, it's hard not to want the world to see it. Thanks again and hugs to you!

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N.M. Stech
18:59 Jan 05, 2023

This is a phenomenal story, wonderfully told. I think this is the kind of story that embodies that quote from Kafka "I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound us." You capture so many difficult dynamics (sibling relationships, addiction, grief) so well in a short story. I know I'm echoing multiple comments below, but the parallel between the blanket fort and Callie's final camp was powerful and heartbreaking. For whatever reason, the detail that really got to me was the decorated border and the flower pot. Just that one...

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AnneMarie Miles
21:29 Jan 05, 2023

Thank you, N.M.! I have not heard that quote, but it speaks to me deeply. I always feel a little guilty for writing such sad stories.. this quote makes them feel more meaningful. I'm so happy that detail stuck with you, as it was one of my favorites. It felt like the most important piece of evidence against Cece's belief that Callie was completely gone because of her addiction. Thanks for reading! I really appreciate you taking the time to leave some feedback.

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Delbert Griffith
13:24 Jan 05, 2023

This is a crushingly sad story, and it rings true in so many ways. My sister works with the homeless and I often accompany her to a camp site. Your description is chillingly accurate. Their stories mirror yours: abandoned by family members after trying to help them, a gradual slide into mud and misery, and a feeble hope that they will 'clean up,' sooner or later. Great story, Anne. It hurt to read it, but it's a jewel.

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AnneMarie Miles
14:55 Jan 05, 2023

Hello again Delbert. Thank you again for taking the time with one of my pieces. We live in a place where homelessness is very prevalent, so I had a lot of references to draw from. It was definitely not an easy story to write but I'm glad I did. Thanks again for your time and feedback. I appreciate it. I'm still looking out for more Gail 👀

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Sav Lightwood
06:31 Jan 05, 2023

Addiction is such a quiet killer, not just for the addicted but really just everyone involved. I love the really crude, almost formulaic anger that the protagonist has throughout the story that shows no sign of forgiveness - and how it cracks open upon finding out that despite everything, Callie is still Callie. Heart-warming :) Also, adore the title. I don't know why but there's something about long, harrowing title names that just gets me.

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AnneMarie Miles
06:52 Jan 05, 2023

Thanks, Sav. "Formulaic anger" - so well-put for how I envisioned this character. Not every time, but sometimes the long titles are necessary. This one screamed for me to do it, as it was the question that birthed the story. Glad it worked for you. Thanks again for reading :)

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Michał Przywara
21:53 Jan 04, 2023

Great story! Very sad. Good take on the prompt. I like the cycle the parents fall into, particularly the mother. Celebration at a new New Year's resolution, misery around Easter at the realization it fell through, rising hope at Thanksgiving for a better new year. Endless cycle, banking on hope. It's very sad, but also completely understandable. What else could they do? Give up? The narrator does. She's hurting, and has been for a long time. She takes a more rational approach, which is curious, as she's rooted in a place of pain, of havi...

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AnneMarie Miles
22:55 Jan 04, 2023

Thank you so much for catching that! I've been rereading this over and over as to not have it approved with errors like my last story - ugh. So really, truly thank you for catching that 🙏 Addiction is terrifying, and it evokes so many convoluted emotions. You make good points about the narrator being stuck between abandonment and foolish hope. One might argue Cece's breakdown at the end is indicative of her own hope, and she's finally realizing that with Callie gone, she doesn't even have that anymore. A lot of people might think the narrat...

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Molly Kelash
18:40 Jan 04, 2023

A tough subject so well handled. You can see the narrator's bitterness-built walls come crumbling down in the end, when she sees her sister's humanity and love were still there underneath the addiction. Heart-wrenching in all the right places. Well done.

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AnneMarie Miles
18:47 Jan 04, 2023

Thank you for reading, Molly. I'm glad her bitterness came through but also the change in her perspective in the end. Addiction can tug on all of the strings of emotion. Certainly a tough piece to write. I appreciate your time and your feedback!

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Rebecca Miles
16:08 Jan 04, 2023

Beautiful moving work Sister Scribbler! What a way to launch into the New Year. This is your best "sad" piece by a long shot and although your funny stories always find my funnybone, for me this is in a league of its own. (Perhaps that is because I would always write to a "poignant" tag if one existed; I am trying to persuade my daughter of the joys of reading Ishiguro!) I know someone else got there first, but the parallel of fort to tent and the transformation yet joined bond along the way is really masterfully done. I love this sort of cl...

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AnneMarie Miles
16:47 Jan 04, 2023

Hello dear friend! Thank you for popping into this sorrowful story. I felt a bit hesitant and guilty for starting off the new year with such a depressing topic, but the story was screaming at me to be written; I literally couldn't focus until I got it out! It has a special space in my heart, as addiction has touched my family and with the winter storms going on, we are all silently sighing. I'm glad the reveal in the beginning didn't kill the suspense. I have a very linear mindset so it's hard for me to structure away from that without killi...

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Rebecca Miles
16:56 Jan 04, 2023

Flu bugs are ripping round the house. It's been one hell of a week with the other half out of action until about an hour ago. I was supposed to write on with my book this week but haven't found the headspace let alone the time so I sat down and wrote another twisted fairytale for Reedsy as they don't take me too long! I feel bad, as I really should give the time to writing on with Ludwig, but it is how it is! I'm glad you could dig into troubled times; writing Letting Go on my mother in law's passing helped me no end. Write out of the dark d...

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AnneMarie Miles
17:33 Jan 04, 2023

It is so tough when your partner goes down! Mine is still bedridden. Thank goodness for therapy and yoga and wine! 🍷I see your Cinderella story and I am beaming 😁 cannot wait to dive in when I have the time to simmer with it. Sometimes you have to just have to follow where your writings take you; hopefully you'll feel refreshed and rejuvenated to get back to Ludwig next time! And yes, writing is my source of catharsis. I feel better now that it's out. Hugs right back to you!! 💞

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Rebecca Miles
07:42 Jan 05, 2023

Take your time to simmer my dear. 😘

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Rebecca Miles
18:21 Jan 20, 2023

Missing you on the platform sister Scribbler; I hope all is ok with you dear, just busy start to the New Year xxx

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Suma Jayachandar
08:38 Jan 04, 2023

Oh, this is such a heartbreaking tale of addiction driving cracks through one's life and relations, Anne. You have brought alive the bonding between the sisters fall apart, bit by bit, so beautifully. The line - I was too young to understand that you can be that mean to someone you love, and then just apologize it away like it never happened.- rang so true. Another line I really liked was-I couldn’t handle seeing her as someone she- again, very visceral. A couple of typos you could fix-living as I’d grown accustom(ed), -Give me five me mi...

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AnneMarie Miles
15:19 Jan 04, 2023

Hi Suma! Thank you for this lovely comment. The lines you chose were some of my favorite as well. And thank you thank you for pointing out those typos 🙏 I have been scowering this for mistakes for days and I still missed those! I appreciate you catching them for me! Thanks for reading!

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Suma Jayachandar
07:49 Jan 05, 2023

No probs. I have a few talented people over here who help me improve my work. It's only fair I do the same😊

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S N
01:41 Jan 04, 2023

Sigh. This is so sad. It is so upsetting how you cannot choose for other people. . . . Even more unsettling that people with stories like this can in some ways lead you to thinking in such a controlling manner. Her parents were so patient, so hopeful . . . The younger sister, jaded from such a young age. I especially appreciated the line about children not understanding how to find love in meanness as apologies are too little too late, essentially. Impressions been made. Such a hard topic to talk about. I applaud your courage to write about ...

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AnneMarie Miles
03:13 Jan 04, 2023

Sasha, thank you for such an endearing comment. Addiction is such a convoluted topic. Whether you think it's a choice or not, an illness or not, it's consequences are damaging and hurtful for everyone around. Guilt just seeps from these situations. I'm glad you appreciated that line; it was one of the heavy hitters for me, I think. Thanks again for your comment and for reading. I appreciate it!

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Wendy Kaminski
00:56 Jan 01, 2023

Wow, Anne Marie. You can really take a theme and just find its soul where it lies within. This was incredible, and incredibly painful to read; excellent work on drawing the reader into the story. The parallels between the tents as a child and as an adult, and the contrasts of the environments around them, was powerfully moving and relatable. Overlaid with the understated pain of the narrator - because it is understated in that situation, I know - this so effectively shows that she never again found her own figurative tent for shelter and sol...

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AnneMarie Miles
03:29 Jan 01, 2023

Wendy, thank you so much! This was definitely a challenging piece to write with the heavy theme and trying to balance the past and present to give enough information without over sharing. In the end I was really happy with how it turned out. Bummer it had to be such a sad piece on new years but it was screaming to be written so I went for it. I don't see the comment anymore but thank you for pointing out that Harry Potter typo! How ironic that the word "happy" snuck into such a sad story. 😅

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Wendy Kaminski
03:38 Jan 01, 2023

Your brain was trying to overcorrect! (I removed it because I noticed you had fixed. :)

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AnneMarie Miles
03:42 Jan 01, 2023

You're so on top of things! Thanks again!

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Lei King
03:37 Feb 04, 2023

This is so crushingly sad, but phenomenal nonetheless. I haven't been on Reedsy in a while and I decided to come to one of your stories to get an inspiring start back on the Web. Throughout my short lifetime, I've encountered and experienced drug addicts. Unfortunately, not many can turn their lives around. But there are those few percentages that fix their lives for the better. In my opinion, addicts are still humans, no matter what. So, when the protagonist (Golly I already forgot her name), found Callie's Harry Potter book, it still re...

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AnneMarie Miles
03:05 Feb 06, 2023

Thanks for reading, Lei, and for your kind comments, as always. This was definitely a piece from the heart. I have also been away from Reedsy for a bit, but hope I can get back on here soon. Best wishes to you, and happy writing!

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Lei King
22:56 Feb 06, 2023

It's quite alright ! I've been away from Reedsy, just to take some time away, and I returned as soon as the new Prompt contest came out. I was super pumped and started writing right away. Unfortunately, it's not as good as I wanted it to be. But, have a great day, and happy writing ! Best regards, Lei Mendoza

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AnneMarie Miles
16:29 Feb 07, 2023

You gotta write the not so good stuff before you can write the great stuff. ;) Glad you are back writing. I am focusing on my poetry this spring, maybe I'll pop on here sometime.

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Lei King
00:59 Mar 29, 2023

Hey Anne ! I just returned from an agonizing school week. Just started spring break. Living the dream. Kind of missing your encouraging words, and your lovely stories. I hope to see you here again sometime! I've recently posted two new artworks of mine, and I was hoping for some feedback. - Lei Lawrence <3

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Sophia Gavasheli
12:45 Jan 18, 2023

Oh, my heart broke when I read about that photo. First off, I like how you sandwich the backstory between the present. The description of the riverbank at the beginning is a powerful way to set the tone of the story and mirror Cece's emotional state. The little details (Harry Potter, steps molded out of mud, wilted stem) are such potent images; I could clearly visualize the scene. It's so sad to see Callie's and Cece's relationship break over time. As a sister, I can really relate to Cece's struggles with accepting that she and her sister ha...

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AnneMarie Miles
15:43 Jan 18, 2023

Hi Sophia! Wow, thank you for such an engaging comment. Comments like these are so meaningful because I can see the thought you've invested in this. It seems like you got everything out of this that I wanted. Especially the realization that her sister never really left her behind. Sometimes we can trust our perceptions and sometimes they are blinding. I appreciate the critique about elaborating on the sisters' interactions. I agree it would add more of an emotional punch and bring us closer to the characters. Maybe in an alternative ver...

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Sophia Gavasheli
17:50 Jan 18, 2023

I definitely feel that. I've been super busy lately and haven't had as much time to write, which I feel really bad about, but hopefully my to-do list will decrease... I know you'll find your footing! You are a very talented writer, Anne Marie, and your stories always get me thinking. We all get into slumps, but creativity always wins out in the end. 😉

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Sophia Gavasheli
03:49 Jun 09, 2023

Hey Anne Marie! I haven't seen a story of yours on Reedsy for a while. Hope you're doing alright!

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Edward Latham
09:06 Jan 17, 2023

This story really makes you think about how tragedy can befall anyone and any family, regardless who you are. And you wrote it beautifully too, Anne Marie! Despite it all the love for her sister remained and that was heart wrenching yet also gave some solace. Hope the new year is treating you well!

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AnneMarie Miles
15:36 Jan 18, 2023

Hey Edward, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Tragedy hardly ever makes sense. I was hoping to reflect that here. The new year has been a bit chaotic but I'm finding my footing slowly. Hope you're having a great new year! Looking forward to reading and writing more soon!

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Daniel Allen
15:36 Jan 11, 2023

This is such a beautifully written piece. It's obviously an emotional topic by its very nature, but all the little details you added really made everything come alive. The book and the picture were such beautiful symbols of how somebody's life can completely turn around in such a heart-breaking way.

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AnneMarie Miles
16:05 Jan 11, 2023

Thank you Daniel! It was definitely an emotional piece to write. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment 😊

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V. S. Rose
02:12 Jan 11, 2023

What a beautifully written story. You had me tearing up! One of the best parts of writing is being able to pull people into the pages and take them on an emotional journey and I could feel your characters come to life. The bond and connection between siblings is something that is hard to capture and losing that sibling to anything, whether it be traveling down the wrong path, addiction or death is heart-breaking. Well done and thanks for teaching me what Kintsugi is. Go Harry Potter!

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AnneMarie Miles
16:03 Jan 11, 2023

Hi V.S.! Thank you so much for your kind words! This certainly was one of my more emotional stories and I'm really happy that you felt the characters come to life. It's not always easy to tell if it's coming across as the writer, so thanks for sharing that. Check out Kintsugi pieces - they're beautiful! And the philosophy is even more beautiful. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment I appreciate it 😊 HP forever 🤓🪄

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Nao Nao
20:59 Jan 10, 2023

i love this and i hope you continue writing masterpieces <333

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AnneMarie Miles
23:17 Jan 10, 2023

Thank you!!

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Helen A Smith
09:34 Jan 10, 2023

I thought this was a very honest piece of story-telling, Anne Marie. The love shared by the sisters and the way things changed with the passing of years, the younger sister’s hurt at her older sister’s distance was heart wrenching. Moving and beautifully written.

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AnneMarie Miles
14:56 Jan 10, 2023

Hello Helen, thank you so much for your kind words. I'm glad the beauty and honesty felt authentic and real. If you enjoyed it, would you mind clicking the thumbs up icon? I would really appreciate it. I'm off to your page to view your latest story. Thanks again for your time!

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Susan Catucci
01:34 Jan 10, 2023

Yep. You tell it as it is, Anne Marie. So many times we hear addiction is a disease, and maybe it is, but when it's close, when it infiltrates - and it does - it FEELS personal, like a choice. So the thought always lingers why wasn't I enough. This was an apt picture you have hung on the wall and I wish everyone could see it. Beautiful work.

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AnneMarie Miles
02:14 Jan 10, 2023

Whew this comment hits me in the heart, Susan. YOU GET IT. On an intellectual level I can understand that addiction is an illness. On an emotional level, it feels like a choice made over and over and over again. At the very least I think about the first step in that direction and it's crushing. Why was nothing enough. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I really appreciate your insight!

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Wally Schmidt
16:49 Jan 08, 2023

A sorrowful story that makes the rounds as non-fiction in too many families. The constant clinging to hope and an unbreakable cycle of despair circulate as freely as air in families that are touched by addiction. Even before the sisters are permanently estranged, the shot across the bow for me is "I was too young to understand that you can be that mean to someone you love, and then just apologize it away like it never happened." Because of course, you can't. Thank you for shining a light onto the darkness of addiction. Taking a moment to...

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AnneMarie Miles
06:57 Jan 09, 2023

Your comments are so insightful and kind, Wally. You always make so many connections and it tells me that you really engage with the text when you are reading, which is such a compliment to any writer. As always, a pleasure to hear your thoughts and I thank you for your time!

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