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Happy birthday baby sister

german chocolate muffin

“Did you decide what you wanted to do for your birthday, Mom?”

Haley was curled up in a recliner in the living room, eating a bowl of cereal. Her mother, Debbie, was folding clothes, stacking neat piles along the back of the couch.

“Having all of you together for dinner would be great,” Debbie said, turning one of her husband’s T-shirts right-side out. “Some place where I don’t have to cook or clean up would be even better.”

While they discussed possible restaurants, Leland, Debbie’s teenage son, grumbled his way down the hallway, still not completely awake. Without a “good morning,” he stomped out the front door, to return a minute later with a fist full of mail.

“A couple of cards came for you,” he said, tossing two oversized envelopes on the cushions in front of his mother.

The smaller of the two was from a local bookstore. Debbie opened it first, knowing it was a coupon in recognition of her pending birthday. Tucking it into her purse, she started a mental list of which books to buy.

On the front of the second envelope, familiar block lettering spelled out Debbie’s name and address. Turning it over to pry open the flap, she notice an unfamiliar return address. Only then did she remember that both her engineer father and architect brother wrote in all caps, as if they were shouting everything they penned.

Seeing her sibling’s name on what appeared to be a birthday card was unsettling. She had to sit down before opening the card – the first contact between them in nearly five years.

“What’s wrong Mom,” Haley said. Concerned, she took the card from her mother. “Wow, that’s weird. Do you want me to open it for you?”

“No, I’ll do it, it’s just a card.” Debbie tore open the envelope, and read the message inside, then re-read it.


“Yeah.” Debbie shook the card, as if it would change the celebratory words inside. “I bet your grams is behind this.”

One phone call to her parents later, and Debbie had the whole story. The card was the first olive branch in a carefully planned cease-fire in the siblings’ unending feud. She had something her brother, Frank, wanted and he was trying to soften the blow before asking for a bold favor.

After a life-long effort to distance himself from Debbie, Frank was in the unbelievable position of needing her to save his life.

The choice should be simple. Frank needed a kidney, she had a spare one. He’s her only sibling, and without her donor organ, he could die. The irony was staggering. Frank went out of his way to avoid interaction with his sister, and now she may be a critical element to his very survival.

The only question for Debbie was whether to unceremoniously call Frank,  and offer to be tested for compatibility, or wait for him to formally ask her.

lightandshade logo
Light and Shade Challenge: Poetic Justice
This week’s Studio30 Plus: inspired by Kirsten, “The choice should be simple.”
To my FB friends: Yes, I did recently receive a birthday card from my brother. Yes, it has been more than 4 years since we’ve spoke. NO… it was not a precursor to him asking me to donate a kidney to him. As far as I know, he is in perfect health. The card was actually from him and his wife, but it was still odd to hear from him after so long. This bit of fiction was merely the result of my non compos mentis brain wondering, “what if…”

7 thoughts on “Happy birthday baby sister Leave a comment

  1. your writing is seamless, like we’re all just sitting in the room with you; folding clothes, hearing crunchy cereal be eaten but then you add the twists and turns and it’s your signature…to throw the line and then…hook us.


  2. Pingback: A Fool for the Man
  3. I like how it’s clear that she’s already decided what she’s going to do, she’s just waiting on whether or not she’ll wait for him to ask or if she’ll call first. The main decision is already made.


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