Gossip: My sister’s gotten weird .
My name’s Tory . I’m six years old . I have a little sister, Maine . She’s five .
Maine has straight, dark blue hair, like the color of the night sky, and golden eyes that shine like the moon . I think she’s really adorable, but I am her older sister .
She’s always really sick and always has a fever, so she doesn’t eat much, so she hasn’t grown very much . She also can’t go outside very much, so her skin is pale white . She’s really adorable, but I can’t play with her very much, which is a little disappointing . The other kids get to play with their brothers and sisters, and I get kinda jealous .
The other day, Maine had a really bad fever . It was so bad that everyone in the family was worried, wondering if she would live or die . For three days, she didn’t eat anything, and she even got so weak that she couldn’t drink any water .
The fever might have made her a little strange in the head .
When she was sick, she started using words I didn’t really understand and getting really mad all of a sudden . She always used to do what she was told, but when I went to go wash the dishes, she snuck out of bed and I found her crying and I don’t know why . She spent the whole day crying…
I though that maybe Maine was still suffering because of her fever, but when her fever went down, she got even weirder .
Seriously, she started saying that her body felt gross and that she wanted to wipe herself off . When we boil water to cook our food, she asks if she could have some warm water for a bath . Every day!
Every day, she wets a cloth and wipes her body off . “Help me with the parts I can’t reach,” she says, so I help her out . On the first day, the bath water got really dirty, but by the third day, it was still pretty clean .
“You’re not really dirty, so isn’t taking a bath kind of a waste?” I asked, but she just said, “It’s not a waste, I am dirty!”
Every day, she obsesses over making sure she washes herself off . Before I knew it, one of the corners of the bedroom had turned into her bathing space .
Then, for some reason, she decided that I should start washing myself as well when I was helping her . “Sure, why not,” I said, and started scrubbing my face . “You go outside a lot,” she said, “so you get dirtier than me . ”
When I washed myself off, the water that Maine had left clean got really dirty and muddy . When I stared at all of the dirt that had been on me, I started feeling a little bit gross . Maine, though, was beaming . “If there’s two of us, it’s not a waste, right?” she said .
What will it take to make her see that it really is a waste? I have to bring all of that water up from the well, and it’s really hard! Doesn’t she know that?
After that, she suddenly started wearing her hair up . Her hair is really straight, so no matter how tightly we tie it back, it unties itself and comes down immediately, so we haven’t really been tying it back . After trying and failing to tie it back several times, Maine started to sulk . Suddenly, she got up and started rummaging around in our toy basket . She pulled out a doll that Dad had whittled out of wood and Mom had made clothes for… my most precious possession!
“Tory, can I break this off?” she asked .
“That’s my doll’s leg! Maine, that’s awful!!”
It was terrifying that my little sister could so calmly ask to break off my doll’s leg . It was too cruel . When I got mad, she hung her head and mumbled “sorry” . Sighing, she ran her fingers through her hair, pushing her bangs back . Seeing a five-year-old do something so strangely sensual made my breath stop for a moment .
“Tory, if I wanted a stick like this, what should I do?”
What Maine really wanted wasn’t my doll’s leg, it was a wooden rod . So, I got a stick from the kindling pile . Instead of letting her break my doll, I used a knife to whittle the stick down into a little rod . She had a lot of requests, like “make this part a little skinnier” or “could you round the ends off to make them less sharp”, but eventually she was satisfied .
With a big smile, Maine took the rod from me, then suddenly jammed it through her own head .
“Maine?!” I yelled, startled .
Maine started to turn the rod, which she had actually stuck through her hair, winding her hair tightly around it . Somehow, she put all of her hair up, with just that one little rod . I was surprised how firmly it stayed in place . It was like the magic the nobility uses! However, her hairstyle looked very adult .
“Maine,” I say, “you can’t put all of your hair up! Only grown-ups do that . ”
With wide eyes, like she really didn’t know, she reached up and pulled the rod out of her hair . Immediately, her hair came undone and fell around her shoulders . Then, she grabs just the top part of her hair, and wraps it up like she did before .
“Is this okay?” she asks .
“I think so, yeah!”
After that, Maine started to always wear her hair up like that . She looks like she has a stick through her head if you look at her from the front, but she seems happy with it .
A little while later, Mom was able to take a day off from work, and I was finally able to go out into the forest with everyone else . I gathered a lot of firewood, and was also able to find a lot of forest mushrooms, as well as some herbs that we can use to season the meat . We need to be preparing for the winter, so all of the kids are working hard to gather things .
“I’m home,” I say, as I walk through the door . “Welcome back, Tory,” replies Mom .
“What did you get? Show me, show me!” says Maine, digging around in my basket like this was a rare and unusual thing . I did this just the other day, but Maine… yeah, when I think about it, Maine’s being weird lately .
“Aha, this! Can I have this!”
With gleaming eyes, she pulls a melia fruit out of my basket . Maine doesn’t ask for things very often, so I thought it would be okay to give her two of them .
“Thanks, Tory!” she says, beaming like an angel . She runs off into the storage room, then comes back out, looking like everything in the world is absolutely perfect .
“Maine, why are y…”
As soon as I started to speak, Maine suddenly swung a hammer and, with a thud, smashed the melia . It splits apart with a squish, and the juice inside splatters all over my face .
When you smash it with a hammer, of course the juices are going to splatter everywhere, you know? Surely you know that without having to think about it, right?
“So, Maine . What are you doing?” I ask, trying to put on a smile as I wipe the splattered juice from my face . With a weird sort of “whee!” noise, she jumps up with a start .
“…Ummmm, so, yeah . I wanted some oil,” she says, with a oh-no-now-I’ve-done-it sort of facial expression . She looks up at me, as if asking for help . This is definitely the face of a girl that absolutely didn’t realize that smashing something with a hammer would send pieces flying everywhere .
“If you wanted oil, you know there’s better ways to make it, right?! What are you doing?!”
“Oh, I see…” she says, dejectedly .
Is she really okay? Does she really not remember back when we pressed vais oil together? Oh no, maybe she had a fever for too long and she’s gone funny in the head! …I should ask Mom about this, shouldn’t I?
Afterwards, when we were in the middle of cleaning up, Mom came back inside, carrying water from the well for our dinner . Of course, she got mad . This was all Maine’s fault, but she got mad at both of us, because I wasn’t a very good older sister . Right then, Maine didn’t seem very adorable at all .
“Tory, Tory,” she asked, “How do you make oil? Teach me?”
Since Mom was in such a huff, Maine stealthily made her way over to me to ask her question . Her sneaking was completely visible . Look, Mom’s watching us right now .
“Mom,” I ask, “Can I teach Maine?”
Mom sighs . “If we don’t teach her, she’s probably going to do something awful like this again . ” She points at the storage room . “Please, show her how to do it . ”
All of the tools we need to make oil are in the storage room, so I get a cloth and take Maine in there with me .
“…A wooden table like the one in the kitchen is just going to soak up the oils and juices, so we can’t use that one . The metal table like here is better . First thing we need to do is spread a cloth out on the table . Then, we need to wrap the fruit in a cloth like this so that the pieces don’t fly everywhere . ”
Melia fruit are edible, so we usually get the oil out of the seeds after we’ve finished eating . Maine, however, was very insistent that there’s oil in the fruit, too .
She brought the hammer down with glee, over and over, but her aim wasn’t very good, she wasn’t very strong, and her posture was all wrong . She smashed up the fruit pretty well, but she wasn’t able to smash any of the seeds . To make things worse, when we were done smashing up the seeds, we would need to wring the cloth out, and Maine doesn’t have nearly enough strength to do that .
“Maine, that’s not working . You’re not smashing the seeds, you know?”
She looked up at me with such a pitiful expression that I decided to help out . I took the hammer from her, but it was so sticky and slippery with juice already that it nearly slipped from my hands . Sighing, I wiped off the handle, and gripped it tightly .
“This is how we do it…”
If Dad were doing this, he wouldn’t be using a hammer . He’d get something really heavy to put on top of it and press the oil out of it without doing a whole lot of work . Boys are expected to do manual labor as they grow up, so they can lift heavy weights like that . I can’t, though, so I had to smash those seeds one by one with a hammer .
“And now, we wring out the cloth…”
“Whoa! Tory, you’re amazing!”
The oil drips into a small dish as I wring out the cloth . As Maine watches, the look of pure joy on her face is extremely adorable . My arms, however, extremely hurt .
“Thanks, Tory!” she says .
“Hey, don’t run off, help me clean up!”
Maine seemed confused, like she didn’t quite know what to do to help, so I helped show her how to clean up all of the tools we used .
Maine has a weak constitution and is much shorter than other kids her age, so it’s easy to forget that she’s already five . When she turns seven, she’ll be baptized at the temple, and she’ll have to find someplace to start an apprenticeship .
Not only that, but next year I’m going to be turning seven . I’m going to start my apprenticeship, so Maine’s going to have to be able to do half of the housework by then . She doesn’t even know where the tools go or how to clean them right now, so I don’t know if she’s going to be okay .
We’re going to keep an eye on her health, but we have to gradually start making her help out with the housework . Otherwise, Maine as she is right now isn’t really going to be able to find work . Mom’s going to have to stop pampering her, and I, her big sister, am going to have to teach her everything she needs to know .
“Tory,” said Maine, “Can I have some herbs too?”
“Just a little?”
With a serious face, Maine went through the herbs she took from my basket, sniffing them each and adding a few of them to her oil . She’s probably trying to change the scent of it, but some of the herbs she’s using are used to keep bugs away, and they’ll make it too smelly to eat .
Whoa… shouldn’t I get this into our food before that finishes happening?
I immediately started to try to add the melia oil to the pot, but Maine cut me off with a frantic expression .
“Tory, no! What are you doing?!”
“If we don’t eat this soon,” I said, “we won’t be able to use it at all! These herbs are going to change the flavor so much that we’re not going to be able to eat it, you know?”
“No, don’t eat it!”
No matter what I said, Maine just kept shaking her head and trying to hide the bowl the oil was in . Eventually, Mom got bothered enough that she looked over at what we were doing, and she started getting angry as well .
“Maine!” she yelled . “Those are things that Tory went and gathered! Don’t be selfish!”
“I’m not selfish! Tory gave these to me!”
No matter how mad Mom got, Maine still wouldn’t listen . When even the two of us couldn’t make her change her mind, we finally gave up, and Maine went off to wash herself off as usual .
Then, she suddenly dumped about half of the oil into her bath water and started mixing it up! Now we really couldn’t eat it . And I’d spent so much trouble finding those, too!
“Maine! What are you doing!” “Eh? I’m washing, you know?”
I couldn’t understand what Maine was doing, even when she tried to tell me . Lately, this has been happening more and more . As I watched, dumbfounded, Maine soaked her hair in the bucket and started to wash it . She splashed the part soaking in the water around, then started repeatedly scrubbing at the top of her head . When she seemed satisfied, she tightly wrung out all of the excess water out of her hair, then used a cloth to start drying it . When she was finished, she combed it out straight .
Her deep blue hair was suddenly so much smoother and silkier that it was positively radiant .
“…What… is this?” I ask .
“Ummm, a “simple 2-in-1 shampoo” . “1
“Do you want to use it to, Tory? If both of us use it, it won’t be a waste!”
After seeing how beautiful Maine had suddenly become, I kind of wanted to try it . I wanted to try being that beautiful .
However, I had been so mad at her just a little while ago that I felt awkward using it . Though, when Maine reminded me that I was the one who’d found the melia and pressed it for oil, the awkwardness blew away .
When you think about it like that, didn’t I do literally all of the preparation work?
Hesitantly, I undid my braid, then lowered my hair into the bucket and washed it like Maine had done . Maine helped too, and her tiny hands helped to wash the parts I missed .
“I think it’s good now?”
After drying it a bunch and combing it out, my hair was as glossy as Maine’s . Although it had always been really poofy and frizzy and impossible to comb out, now it was gentle and wavy . It’s almost like magic .
“You’re so beautiful!” says Maine . “Tory, you smell nice . ”
She seems pleased, for some reason, as she combs out my hair . I was delighted that I’d become so beautiful… but, how did Maine learn how to do this?
Maine really has gotten weird . If she gets weirder like this every time she has a fever… that’s a terrifying thought .
…Although, when Mom freaked out when she saw us as we cleaned up Maine’s bucket, I started wondering what Maine would get up to next . I might be looking forward to it, just a little .