Paper-Thin: Part 1
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Paper-Thin: Part 1

An epistolary of letters from an older sister to her unborn sibling

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Paper-Thin: Part 1
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September 6

Dear Baby,

Our dad bought a new swing to add to the swing set today. It’s a baby swing, so you can swing before you’re big enough to do it by yourself.

When I was a kid, I would swing for hours. I loved the way the sky blurred as I rocketed back and forth, pumping my legs towards the clouds. It’s the closest thing to flying. My goal was to swing all the way around the pole of the swing set. Each time I was close, the chain would buckle backwards, and I’d fall back to the ground again. Even though I failed every time, I believed it was possible. But there’s this thing called gravity, Baby. It never forgets to pull you down.

I don’t swing anymore. I can’t fly. Maybe you’ll be able to fly, Baby. I hope so.

-Reagan


September 10

Dear Baby,

It’s one o’clock in the morning. I can hear Mom and Dad’s dreaming breaths softly rising and falling. Are you breathing with them? If so, I’m hearing your breaths through my wall, too.

I can still hear their hateful words piercing the air. They started speaking to each other again after they found out they were going to have you. But only their arguments count as talking. Everything else is just absent-minded words spoken because they have to… for you.

The walls of our house are paper-thin. All they need is a single spark to catch them on fire. If they do, I think I will sit on the edge of the street, where the pavement meets the grass and watch the smoke melt the walls away.

Sometimes, Baby, I fear that you’re going to be that spark. Parents that have babies fifteen years after their first child is born usually do not plan on having a second child. I’m sorry for being the one to tell you this, but you should know. But don’t worry because when the paper walls of our house start to blacken, I’ll be there.

I’ll take you with me on the smoke, and we’ll drift off into the night sky. We’ll escape this pressure cooker of words shot impulsively, and everything will be all right.

-Reagan


September 13

Dear Baby,

I caught Mom crying today. She was sitting next to the tall window in the dining room, the rays of sun turning her tears a glassy red. Her hands lingered on her belly. They were lying flat, yet white knuckled. Could you feel them?

Her lips were quivering, muttering. These days, every time I see her she’s mumbling words of encouragement to herself, although they do not seem to be working. She wants to keep you, Baby, but that means she has to stay here trapped in our paper-thin house.

When Dad saw her, she inhaled a shuttered breath and stood to face him, smoothing out her crinkled skirt with her sallow palms. “It’s okay,” he said, but she couldn’t see the way he wrung his hands behind his back uncomfortably. Mom sat back down, and Dad left the room. Neither of them comforted by the exchange.

I’m scared, Baby. I can see the coal starting to blacken where the grass meets the pavement.

-Reagan

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