My sister woke up early every morning before us all – tending to the garden, fixing mama’s breakfast and coffee in some fleeting reach for affection, stealing cherries from the neighbor’s bushes before they came to. Odd one, my little sister.
I never liked her.
One morning I have to pee something serious and hear her tiptoeing around the kitchen – I’ve always had good hearing – and peer my eyes around the corner. She doesn’t notice me, which is usual.
She stands humming some made up melody, her pale feed beneath a stool so she can reach the sugar jar. Her curly good hair is pulled back in two messy French braids, frizzy with her refusal to wrap them up the night before. She hums and hums, swaying – for a second it looks as though she’ll slip, and I almost hope she does, but she hops down from the stool with a light thud and returns her attention to the coffee mug.
One, two, three scoops of sugar she dumps into the mug, stirring each with another sigh of her fabricated tune.
She reaches for the unpasteurized cream – mama only drinks the raw shit – and carefully pours with her left hand while stirring with her right. Humming, stirring, humming, stirring...
She pauses – and here’s the part I love – holds her stirring hand up next to the coffee for comparison beneath the stove light. She stares at the steaming coffee, then her skin, back at the steaming coffee, then back at her skin, and then nods, satisfied with herself.
Just enough cream to make it taste good, I reckon.