I Saw Mama Burn The Letters

I stood in the kitchen one cold winter evening in a shimmering pink dress. In my eyes, that was all it was, a pink gown of some sort, but it was clear to me that my mother saw it as much more. She stood next to me fussing with a few loose threads on it so that it would be absolutely perfect. Because of our mother, my little sister Sherryl and I had been competing in pageants for a long time, ever since she divorced our father. I didn’t mind it so much; I actually thought it was fun sometimes. Sherryl thought differently.
In all truthfulness, we were competing for our mother. She wasn’t fit to compete in pageants, she was too old or something like that, but whenever we were at a pageant she was totally invested in it. Through us she could live them, breathe them, feel them, win them.
Once my mother had finally stopped fussing with the sewing needle, she pulled all my hair to one side and looked at me like I was some kind of sparkling jewel. I happily took a few steps in a pageant walk, turned and returned to my oroginal spot. Truthfully, it was nothing spectacular, but it looked like my mother thought it was some fantastic moment, so I played along just like I always did.
“Oh, honey, you look perfect,” she said to me as her eyes glittered, “I just know that you’re a lock for winning the pageant tomorrow.”
“I know, Mama. I am fabulous,” I told her and struck a pose with my hands on my hips.
“Alright, Sherryl, c’mon out, it’s your turn.”
My little sister had placed herself in the corner of the kitchen as far away from us as she could possibly get, sitting in a chair at the table. The overhead lights in that corner of the kitchen didn’t actually work...

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...wn and curled up into a little ball on the floor. My tears did not cease. They came quick and fast and when they almost stopped they didn’t because she knew and it was my fault. Not all the letters were burned, but now she would be watching us more closely, making sure she was the one who got the mail, and with how I knew my mother could get it was going to be impossible to get around. I hated crying, I hated her, I hated myself, and I especially hated that lighter.
Suddenly, a gentle hand brushed my shoulder. It was Sherryl. She had one hand behind her back and also had tears running down her face. It was painful to see her look so defeated, but she seemed a little better than I was. Then her lips twisted into a big smile, a smile like you would have if you just saved the world. She took her hand out from behind her back and held out one beautiful, undamaged letter.

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