Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Slice of Life: 'Twas the Night Before Leaving...

 On Tuesdays, I write slices of stories from my week! All are welcome! Join us at Two Writing Teachers!

It had been a nearly perfect week. Family meals, evening games, conversations... we'd had a lot of people in the house, and sisters, notorious for snapping and overreacting, had laughed and related. Everyone felt like friends instead of people I had to manage. 


On the almost last night, the dog got into a container of vitamins. (Winnie has been known to do that. She loves to chew the crotches of underpants, leggings, and even jeans, and she is a canine magician when it comes to getting tops off of anything. Fortunately, she seems to have a stomach of steel and a highly functional digestive system.)

"They weren't mine," Larkin snapped when Garth came down with the bottle. 
"No one accused you," I said. 
"Yes, you were," she said. 

We continued with a dysfunctional conversation that mattered much less than how worried we should be about Winnie (who, spoiler-alert, was fine). Finally, we stopped, but tension fogged the air. 

Then, at dinner, the comment between the sisters about driving. 
"I'll go with you," Clare said to Larkin, "but as long as I drive."

Background info: Clare is younger than Larkin, but has always regarded herself as the better driver. At 16 and 19, that probably wasn't the case. Now, at 22 and 25, I get more work done in the passenger seat when Clare is driving. Please don't tell Larkin. 

With the boyfriends in the audience, Clare's comment lit a fuse. Garth and I worked to change the topic. Quickly. For the moment, the fuse fizzled, but didn't go out. I don't even remember what set it off again later that night during a card game, but something did-- this time between Larkin and me. 

"It's the night before you're leaving," I said. "Can we just let it go?"
Neither of us could. Neither of us did. 

"Why do we always have to end my visits in a fight?" Larkin asked once we settled back down. "It's such a pattern."

At least this time, it wasn't exactly her last night with us since we were all together again for a night in Rhode Island at our house near the beach. And, as it turned out, that night was great. 

Maybe the fighting makes it easier for her to leave. Maybe it helps me miss her less. Maybe it helps both of us handle being a half a country away for most of the time. 

Maybe next time I'll make sure this doesn't happen. 

Happy Slicing, 


  1. So glad you broke the pattern. Some women in my family have a quick cleaning binge before leaving. That is not in my genes. But patterns are hard to break if they are not identified and named out loud!

  2. It's hard to live MILES apart like you and Larkin do.
    My grandmother and mom used to argue before we'd depart my Grandma's house. She always provoked my mom in some way and they'd get into it with each other just before leaving. It was a terrible capstone to what was otherwise a good visit. I remember it as a teenager and a 20-something. Thankfully, my mom and I have broken the pre-departure fight history that her mom and her had. YET, we live 150 miles apart rather than 1,000+ miles away from one another.

  3. Ah, I love this! So readable and relatable too. My sister and I used to squabble about driving too. It's so hard to be apart from those we love. Maybe the fighting is the way to make that pain channeled into a different place....

  4. I often feel those predeparture fights are to make the loss less painful…Hard to break those unconscious patterns, but now that you have identified and named it maybe you can all go for it.