Daze

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The evening starts the same as the morning: with a pounding headache, and the comfort of three cats lying across my stomach.

The heaviest, my former best bro-now-sister, Rin, stifles a snort, watching me wade around in the pool of blankets and fluff. She finally moves when I start swatting her and her right-hand men with my thick noodle arms, and rolls off the bed, a cat tucked under each armpit, before I’m conscious enough to weaponise my thunder thighs.

Of course, Rin being Miss I’ve-broken-all-my-limbs-at-least-five-times – an achievement which she announced, very loudly, when we first met in person at 14, and proved to be true the moment she flew down a flight of stairs and began laughing her head off afterwards - then falls off the edge off my bed as quickly as Marshmallow and Marzipan scamper out the door, ignoring their boss’ yelps as she falls to the clutches of the hard and un-vacuumed carpet floor.

“Traitors…” Rin murmurs, groaning. Joints crack.

If lying in bed didn’t promise me sleep, it’d be my turn to try not to laugh at her dying cat noises as she’s floundering through piles of week-old laundry and scrunched-up homework. As her mewls die down, there’s a biting itch at the back of my mind begging for me to check on her, but it’s thrown out the window the moment she shouts, “I’LL BE BACK”, and slithers out the door like a villain from an old superhero comic.

At this point, I wonder if she knows that I know she’s only running to kitchen to get me food and water to down with medicine. Which is funny, since just yesterday we nearly flooded the house fighting over who got to shower because we were both late for choir.

I guess that’s how it’s always been with us, though. Even before Dad remarried and we moved in, someone had to be the fastest, strongest, loudest, craziest, funniest, or any of the other -ests between us. It wouldn’t be much fun otherwise.

But Rin being the antagonist of this epic rivalry wouldn’t make much sense: she’s obviously the hero. Neither of us would make very good villains (unless it involved accidental murder), but Rin’s usually the one taking time out of her day to drag her stepbrother’s butt out bed twice just to help him do the things he need to do because he’s been getting “sick” every few weeks, even though she’s got her own metaphorical mountains to climb over.

Sure, me returning to Australia after being uprooted to live fifty-five hundred kilometres from home for who-knows-how-long with a two-year-old’s fluency in Indonesian wasn’t all nice and breezy, but it’s hard to imagine what it’d be like for a ten-year-old Rin not knowing that struggling to hold back lashing out at people who picked on you had more to do with chemical imbalances in your brain than your moral compass.

Which is not to say she doesn’t genuinely screw up from time to time. I mean, just last month we actually did flood the house. Well… the kitchen floor.

It’s really stupid, now that I look back on it. Rin forgot it was her turn to do the dishes again, so I, being the sour butt I was, did them in front of her after dinner with the biggest I’m-totally-fine grin I could manage. Seeing as I was being very subtle about it, it was only natural that Rin immediately took matters into her own hands by placing Marshmallow and Marzipan on nearby chairs and set a timer for who-can-do-the-dishes-the-fastest.

Flash forward to 20 minutes later, and we’d be jumping over screaming cats skidding across the wet floor just to screw the cold tap piece back on, praying it would be enough to stop water from the sink from leaking through to the bottom floor where the book café was, and trusted that everything could be fixed soon. Eventually.

I guess we should’ve known that Dad and Yuki would’ve come home before we finished mopping everything up.

Eventually, after paying for the damage ourselves and being banned from our weekly karaoke until we learnt how to have competitions without potentially depleting the house’s water supply, me and Rin settled with doing most of our chores together (well, we try to) and save our death matches for community theatre. It seemed, after that day, Rin would try to make up for all the times she’d completely forget her chores by doing my share on top of hers – which is nice, but isn’t a good trade off since my good and bad days are as predictable as the weather.

But there was one good thing that, I guess, actually did come out of that disaster. While, at the time, it probably wasn’t the best idea to crack a joke about not having to clean the kitchen for a while, after spending the last hour or so exchanging glares and biting comments, catching Rin almost brake into giggles made having to clean down the book café floor by myself so worth it.

Maybe the next time we accidentally destroy the house, I’d be able to tell Rin that’s she doing more than enough to help me settle in, without having to tease each other for going soft.

But for now, as Supersister Rin returns with a bowl of apples slices, two fuzzy rascals and a family-sized thermos, and I pretend to doze off, I’m good with saving the tears for telling her why it kills me inside on days I can’t run around smiling like an idiot for everyone else.

Nadya Labiba is a first-year Journalism/International Studies student. While her future remains one giant question mark, she can typically be found expanding a never-ending fictional universe, drawing fanart, and making origami and other miscellaneous arts and crafts.