Sadly, the only vivid memories I have of my real sister Valeria have been erased and obstructed by the new and more current memories of my fake sister Valeria: The Double. My real sister Valeria will remain a character trapped forever in the past, a character abandoned and left to dry in some corner only to be replaced by an improved and more mature version of that same being.
Real sister Val was sixteen when I was six and would take me to play in the fields of Arizona, where we would fly kites until nighttime, she had blond curls and frizzy tangled hair specially adapted to fit the eighties style,and would read “Seventeen” magazine and paint her nails in tacky colors, and smell like expensive perfume and leather and cigarette all the time. The sister I remember having, shared the same room as Diana and me when we were young, but would always leave the house in taxicabs at 2 AM as soon as Mom and Dad were asleep, to spend the night in someone else’s bed.
My sister Valeria locked herself inside the bathroom with me one summer when I was ten, and managed to murder whatever was left of my sweet ignorance by revealing the meaning of sex and the reasons why girls would bleed every month. She was in love with an Italian guy named Fernando, who broke her heart but always came back for more of her, and she would always run to him, again and again, whenever he called her. My sister; my big sister, would spend hours criticizing Mom in front of me, so that I would be on her side when the time to pass judgment arrived. She also tried to convince me that bands such as “Queen” or “Genesis” were really good bands when the truth of the matter is that they have always sucked.
The real Valeria would yell at mom for hours only because she could get away with it, and because “she didn’t have a Dad”. She would hide a yellowish picture album under her bed with photographs of her biological father, the one that died a sudden, unexplainable death one night during the dictatorship years in Argentina. My real sister Val found out she was pregnant one evening, and decided to go ahead and get an abortion by herself the very next morning, without telling anyone but me, and afterwards decided to go to work right from the abortion clinic as to not appear suspicious, pretending nothing had happened, nothing.
My big sister used to be a woman I looked up to, something like an example of what I should be in life, and someone I used to count on. But Val grew up one day, as it happens to everybody, and decided to stop being like the rest of us. She used her charm, and married a banker. Now there are only the remains of her former self and the birth of “The Double.”
The new version of my sister Valeria blow-dries her blond hair every morning until it is so straight and thin, it shimmers in static and sticks to her cheeks. She is obsessed with tidiness and loves the color white. My sister Val has money and a new life based on her new social class. My sister Val is “very, very happy” and brags about her summer house and her vacations all over the world, and her two maids and her beautiful china sets she has tea in.
She doesn’t scream any more either, and is never mad. My sister Val has a husband ten years older than her who never speaks to any of us and is the dullest person I have ever encountered. My sister Val is always very bored but has a talent for inventing pointless activities to keep her busy (like toning her abs, or remodeling her kitchen and buying art for her living room, or having kids.)
I have this big problem you see, I have the tendency to want to desperately rescue the people I love, and protect them from the terrible things life puts in front of us. And, with Val, it seems like she decided to mess inside a strange, tricky territory of wealth and pleasant surprises, and I know that she could be happier, deep down I just know. But my big sister does not want to be rescued.
So the point of this long entry is that I will see her again in two days, and we will probably “go shopping” together and there will be a lot of awkwardness and silence between each other, just like there is between strangers. I will have to chat and fill up the silence maybe, and lie to her by inventing some passionate story about how much I like guys.I will have to put on a mask and pretend I cannot see through her. But she will realize that I am making this effort, she will realize that, yes, I CAN see through her.
She will know that I know, and that I have only shared with her a quarter of my life, and that I am entitled to see through her because I know her. She will know that I was awake and looking from the window that gave view to the avenue, on those summer nights in Buenos Ayres, when she waited for the bus to come on a deserted street at 2 AM, and that I could see her solitary figure, her arm stretching to stop the bus, from the thirteenth floor. She will realize.
Oh, but let us leave the past alone, leave it to drown in the depths of a dark blue sea and not mention it: It is still there. Sadly, I will always look for that older sister who was so alive it scared me, and I will still yell at her every now and then from the insides of my mind and from the balcony that is no more: “Please Val, tell me it is you! tell me it is still you and not that other woman.”
But there will be no more response from her, I know this, except silence and the bland smile of that Double who has replaced her.