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My Sister Leilani
by T. Hudson Roberts

One warm afternoon when I was eight-years-old, I had nodded off in my sister Leilani's station wagon, while she drove on Highway 1, a long sinuous stretch of road that ran juxtaposed to the California coastline. Beautiful sceneries of daunting cliffs and the expansive Pacific ocean, followed us like the eyes of the Mona Lisa. As I was sleeping, evidently missing Mona's stalking eyes, Leilani slowed the car and then came to a stop at a fireworks display. After I woke up to my sister's flicking finger to my forehead, she sent me out to purchase some fireworks.  

I soon found myself in front of a blue-wooded structure, cut out like a massive shoe box lying on its side. In that box were two women and a man selling tiny explosives that were celebrated the world over. I proceeded to jockey for position among the queue of fire hunters and waited for my turn in line. When my turn finally came, I stood before the male hawker whose haunting, swarthy eyes seared through me as if I wasn't there. I promptly cleared my throat to get his attention. A minute passed—no help. Two minutes and an impatient sigh then passed—still no help. He was helping people who were standing behind me. I’d been slighted! No he didn’t! 

I suddenly heard my sister's thundering voice behind me, asking what was taking so long. I then slithered my way back a few steps past the tiny crowd and came upon Leilani's restless posture of folded fists on hips. I had explained to her the man's inability to vend his wares properly to the next available customer: Me. Or, maybe I'd said to her, “he don't wanna help me,” I forget. My sister boiled. Wavy lines of vaporous heat began to waft visibly above her forehead. Within seconds, a volcano of expletives bursted out from her mouth and into the once unsullied air.

I wanted to cover my innocent ears. Was it the English language? Was she speaking in tongues? Then it happened. A threat to the male hawker that I wouldn't wish on Hitler himself. “I will hang him upside down by his balls!” I'd never heard of such a thing. I wanted to take a minute to picture that scenario, but it only took a second for me to cringe and throw up. Surely, even ole Satan would kick himself for not thinking of that one. 

My shock eventually subsided when my sister exorcised herself from the evil spirits that took over her body. Relief couldn't had come any sooner, for my virgin ears had certainly been violated and had heard enough of the Sailors' language for a lifetime. As for that male hawker—fortunate was he that the shadow of my sister doth not cometh hither. 

What I'd learned that day was that my older sister Leilani would always have my back. She was truly a brother's sister.