We are moving to a house, leaving the old apartment where I love the garden in back and my brown carpet and peach-painted walls. There is not enough room here, with the dining nook serving as my sister’s room, because she is getting older and needs a real bedroom of her own.
The new place is much bigger, in a nicer part of town, on a street with other nice houses. It has a bigger backyard, and two floors plus a basement with a crawl space. My dad and I go downstairs and crawl inside the crawl space, which seems like another world, made for short people like me. There is a small window in the side of the wall inside the crawl space, and when we open it, there is only blackness beyond. My dad closes the window; we cannot see anything on the other side. We go back upstairs, covered in dust but happy.
My room is bigger. I can have any color carpet I want, so I choose green, which clashes with the faux wood paneling on my walls, but I don’t care. I have green shades covering a window that looks out over the garden, where my mom and I will plant more sunflowers and watch them grow taller than either of us. My sister gets the smaller room, which is redone in pinks with flowered wallpaper and white furniture.
I celebrate my fifth birthday. I have cupcakes with pink and chocolate frosting. There are still boxes piled on the screened-in porch. We are not unpacked yet.
There is a playroom on the first floor. It is marvelous. We have many toys by now, and they all are here — a plastic refrigerator, a cupcake oven that really works, a globe, board games, records and a record player, Legos, and a huge pile of wooden blocks and foam rubber. I build magnificent towers and cities out of blocks, then open the door. “Trish!” I yell, and she screams happily, then comes running from the living room toward the playroom, straight toward the tower of blocks. She crashes into them and they scatter everywhere, and she laughs. She loves this more than anything. I build, she knocks down. We are a team. I am starting to love her.
I cut her hair. It seems like a good idea at the time. I grab the scissors, imagine that I will make her glamorous. But as I snip her blonde curls with a blunt-tipped scissor, I am seized by jealousy. My hair is mousy brown and stringy straight. She is always getting the attention. I continue snipping. Her bangs fall to the floor, a little pile of golden fluff. There is a hole in her hair. Her forehead looks large. The edges of the hole are kind of squarish. I feel bad for a moment, then smile. “There,” I say. She smiles at me, brilliantly, brightly, with love, then traipses off to show my mom.
I am in trouble shortly thereafter. My sister visits her first hairstylist, but she still looks strange for a few weeks. I feel a twinge of glee every time I see her. I am a bad sister.