Sister to Sister
Hanging up the phone Amy made her way to Ashley's room and knocked. Ashley looked up and merely nodded her head when she saw Amy, giving her permission to enter. Amy closed the door and walked over to Ashley's desk, turning the chair around to face the bed which Ashley was currently laying on sideways, still in her pajamas. She raised an eyebrow as Amy sat down. Finally, some answers.
"I need to talk to you Ashley and this will go a whole lot faster if you skip the wise cracks and give me straight answers. I'll do my best to do the same."
"Okay…" Ashley replied, indicating that she agreed and was now waiting for Amy to start.
"When did you first realize you hated me?" Ashley looked at Amy like she was the biggest idiot on the planet.
"I don't hate you. You just irritate me."
"You really wanna know?" Amy nodded her head
"Because you're ridiculous." At Amy's look of confusion she continued. "Amy, you never fight back, you're always trying to make everybody else happy, you have little if any self-esteem and you can't see what's right in front of your face."
"What do you mean I never fight back?"
"The instant someone says something that hurts your feelings or does something that makes you cry, instead of standing up and saying how you feel, you back down or just walk away, crying. It's frustrating to try to fight with someone who won't fight back."
"But why do you want to fight with me? What exactly have I done that makes you wanna hurt me?" Ashley sighed in frustration.
"And there's that 'can't see what's in front of your face' issue. Amy, you had a baby in high school. Not only did you keep it but you got a job and kept going to school. You have every right to be proud of yourself for being a good mom but you keep letting people make you feel bad about it instead of telling them to take their opinions and attitude and shove it. I've been trying to get you to fight back by picking at you from time to time but all you do is cry and walk away. You've got a serious problem with confrontation."
"Why didn't you just tell me all of that instead of picking at me?"
"Because it's not my job to make you feel good about yourself Amy. That's why it's called self-esteem. Until you learn how to stand up to your sibling, someone who's lived with you for years, you're always gonna be a cry baby pushover."
"Okay. If you're not out to hurt me for the heck of it with your words, why do you try to hurt me with your actions?" Now Ashley was confused.
"What do you mean?"
"Stealing the adoption CD out of my jewelry box, telling dad I was a bad mother for considering adoption…" Ashley couldn't think of an answer right away. As she thought about it, Amy asked her another question.
"If you aren't out to hurt me then why haven't you treated me like a sister?"
"What does that even mean Amy?"
"If you're my sister, my family, someone I'm supposed to be able to trust and rely on, why did you not tell me you knew my boyfriend had cheated on me? Why did you kiss my son's father? Why did you tell me you had kissed my son's father? Why didn't you send me a text or call me for my birthday?"
"So this is all really about me kissing Ricky and forgetting your birthday?"
"No, Ash. It's about me trying to figure out why my sister dislikes me so much and why she would rather hurt and backstab me than talk to me and have my back. Ash, it feels like you hate me profusely for getting pregnant. I told you everything about that night. You know it wasn't planned and that I was terrified I was gonna be a bad mom if I kept my baby. You encouraged and supported me then so what changed?" Ashley just stared at her sister. It wasn't that she didn't love Amy or that they didn't have sisterly moments, it was just that they were two very different people.
"Amy, our approaches to life are just different so parts of your personality annoy me. Sure I get an occasional kick out of messing with you, I mean, what younger sibling doesn't, but that doesn't mean I ever want you to be hurt. I've even tried to help you without you knowing it."
"What do you mean?" That was news to Amy.
"Remember when you were supposed to talk to Ricky about adoption and Ben showed up unexpectedly?"
"That's because I told him to show up."
"Because I could see that while Ricky may have been the dad that was best for the baby, Ben was the guy that was best for the baby's mom. I told him he needed to be there for moral support for you. You needed someone in your corner who cared about you and at the time that someone wasn't Ricky." Amy started to tear up and Ashley rolled her eyes.
"Please don't tell me you're gonna start crying now." She looked at Amy and saw her smiling.
"Probably." They shared a sisterly look before they both laughed. Amy wiped her eyes and continued talking. "Ash, I'm grateful that you've always been on my side and in my corner when I really needed it and I wished I'd known. There have been a lot of times that I've wondered if I mattered to you at all as anything more than a source of amusement or someone to mess with emotionally. I even felt torn for worrying so much about you when it seemed like you couldn't care less about me." That last comment got Ashley's attention.
"Why would you be worried about me?"
"Ash, you were going to be going to Grant the next school year after I'd had John. I was worried that kids might pick on you or make high school uncomfortable because your older sister had been 'that pregnant girl.' I didn't want people picking on my little sister to begin with and I felt even worse knowing that my one night at band camp might cause problems for you." Ashley suddenly found herself tearing up.
"I know I said that I don't hate you hate you but right now I hate you," Ashley said with a giggle. Amy looked at Ashley like she was having a mental breakdown.
"Amy, even when you had the weight of single teenaged motherhood weighing down on you, you found time to worry about someone else. You really are a saint sometimes you know that?" She said it with a smile so Amy knew she wasn't being sarcastic. Suddenly Ashley's laughter dried up.
"I'm sorry for kissing Ricky, Amy."
"Why did you?" Ashley had thought about this very question since it had happened.
"Remember when Ricky took me garage sale shopping?"
"We'll, we talked as we were driving around and I could see that he wasn't such a bad guy. I also got this sense that he and I had similar personalities and senses of humor and that maybe we could be friends. That was when I started having a bit of a crush on him." Amy nodded, letting Ashley know she should continue. Ashley sighed, knowing Amy would probably hate her for the rest of this but maybe it was time to clear the air completely.
"After you left for New York, we spent a lot of time together simply because we were living in the same house and he gave me rides to and from school and so my crush on him, and our friendship, grew. I realized he and I might have been a couple if he hadn't gotten you pregnant. The two of you never made an effort to get involved romantically and I knew he was only around you because of John. I figured without him Ricky might not want anything to do with you since you weren't interested in sleeping with him, and I was, at the time." She'd been looking at her hands for the last few minutes and finally looked up at Amy with worry in her eyes, only to find Amy smiling, sadly. That's not the reaction I was expecting.
"You're wondering why I'm not mad at you right?"
"The thought crossed my mind."
"Because I've already had and accepted those thoughts, Ash." Ashley, usually the one with the poker face, was stunned. Huh?
"When Ricky acted like I didn't exist after that night, I knew I meant nothing to him. When he decided he wanted to be involved in deciding what happened to our unborn child, I knew it was out of some sense of duty or whatever, not because I mattered to him. After John was born and I found out that he was still sleeping around and Adrian was going to possibly be a permanent part of the picture, I knew for sure that he loved only his son, not the idiot he'd gotten pregnant who'd carried his child inside her. I know Ricky only talks to me because he has to and I'd still be invisible to him if it weren't for John. Ash, finding out about the kiss hurt because my sister was trying to build a relationship with someone I was forced to interact with who couldn't care less if I were dead or alive. And knowing my child's father feels that way about me still hurts a little, even now."
"He cares about you, Amy. I just didn't realize how deeply until after I'd kissed him and he decided to go to New York." Now Amy was confused. Is she actually defending Ricky right now? Seeing Amy's expression Ashley explained.
"Do you know why I called and told you about that kiss?"
"He and I were talking and I said I didn't know why everyone was so concerned about your reaction to the news that Ben got Adrian pregnant and she was keeping the baby. Do you know what he said?" Amy shook her head. Of course she didn't know; she hadn't been there.
"He said he didn't know either. All he knew was why he was concerned about your reaction. When I asked him why he was he told me it was because you were the mother of his son, and the person he cared about most next to John." This was the first time Amy had ever heard that Ricky genuinely cared about her feelings or wellbeing. I'm not sure what to do with that information. She didn't have time to process it because Ashley wasn't finished.
"I was angry, Amy. I thought Ricky and I had a connection. I thought he was actually interested in me, that my flirting had been reciprocated. Turns out the flirting and witty banter was just creating sexual tension that culminated in a kiss. He may have wanted me momentarily but he didn't love me. I blamed you, instead of me for being naïve, and lashed out by telling you about our kiss, even though it had happened several days ago."
"Trust me, Ash, I know all about lashing out at other people instead of taking responsibility for your actions and naivety. I was the queen of lashing the first few months after John was born. I was so angry at myself and when combined with the stress of teenaged motherhood and our circus of a family, I lashed out at any and everybody." Amy's face showed that she was taking a trip down memory lane, remembering her bad attitude. Ashley watched her, trying to process what Amy had just told her and what she'd learned since Amy had been in New York. Ashley knew there was always more to people than meets the eye, you just have to take the time to get to know them. She also knew that even though her sister could become a basket case rather easily, she was growing up, maybe a little faster than expected, but she had accepted the reasonability of motherhood and was doing her best. I need to be a better sister, a better person for that matter.
"What do you say we make an agreement that from here on out we try to be better sisters? I don't know how we'll do it exactly but I promise to start by not keeping secrets from you or doing things behind your back that might hurt you." Amy smiled. That sounded like a great idea to her.
"Deal. I'll work on getting better at speaking up for myself for my own sake and so I won't irritate you as much."
"Deal." The two sisters stood up and hugged each other, both smiling. Maybe, just maybe, they could have a normal sibling relationship and both finally begin moving forward in their lives. Ashley felt that if they were really going to move forward though, she needed to come clean about a few things.
"In the interest of this pledge to be honest, I should tell you a few things."
"Ok. Like what?"
"Well….I knew dad lied about his vasectomy before he told you and mom and I didn't say anything right away. It was only after we found out mom thought Robbie might be David's that I told dad he had to come clean so mom wouldn't be hurt by marrying someone she wasn't in love with. I'm sorry for making you think the rumors at school about dad were just rumors, even though I knew they were true. I'm also sorry for telling dad about you and Ricky kissing. Adrian had called me saying Ricky was coming over, even though John was asleep already, and asked me to spy on you two. I saw you standing with your arms around his neck and your eyes closed. Ricky saw me but I didn't say anything, just walked away in disgust, and told dad. I know I shouldn't have but at the time I honestly believed Ben was the better guy for you. I'm sorry for spying on you for Adrian." Amy was momentarily upset with Ashley but quickly got over it.
"While I wish dad had come clean about his vasectomy earlier, it really wasn't your secret to tell so I can understand why you didn't say anything right away. As for the kiss, that was a bad call on my part due to low self-esteem but it would've been nice if you'd come talked to me about it before blabbing to dad."
"Why did you kiss Ricky? You said it wasn't because you were planning to sleep with him again so what was it?"
"Say what?" Amy chuckled at Ashley's look of disbelief.
"You heard me, kissing practice. Jimmy hadn't called me back after our date, a date I thought had gone pretty well since it ended with a make out session. I talked to Lauren and Madison about reasons he hadn't called me back. I told them about the date and Madison suggested it was because I was a bad kisser. I didn't wanna believe her at first but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed possible. I was in the band room putting away my French horn later and trying to hide my tears, yes I was crying about it, when Ricky came in. He saw that my eyes were red and asked me what was wrong. I asked him if he thought I was a bad kisser and he said no, but everything gets better with practice and, if I wanted, he would practice with me."
"And you bought that?!"
"Not at first."
"What changed your mind?"
"Jimmy still hadn't called me by that night and I was feeling bad about myself so I took Ricky up on his suggestion. The problem was that I felt awkward about it at first."
"So why'd you keep going." Amy shook her head
"Not that actual kissing, the thought of going through with it." Amy could tell that Ashley wasn't following her.
"I stood there, with my arms around Ricky's neck, and told him I felt awkward just kissing him again out of the blue. He told me I was overthinking it and that it was just a kiss between friends, it didn't mean anything to either of us. When I still looked doubtful he told me to just close my eyes and he'd do all the hard stuff."
"What hard stuff?"
Amy chuckled and said, with a smile, "Honestly? I have no idea what he meant by that."
"So that must've been the moment I saw you guys."
"Yeah. I should've listened to that awkward feeling but at the time I really wanted to be a better kisser for the next time I made out with Jimmy. It was only after that 'practice session' that I realized the whole thing had been selfish and basically pointless."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, even though Ricky's a good kisser and the kisses were nice, I felt bad about hurting Adrian. She had been trying to become my friend and I hadn't even thought about how hurt and angry she'd be when I told her I'd kissed her boyfriend, and I knew I needed to be the one to tell her. I also realized that I would never be able to trust Ricky completely because he was so willing to cheat on his girlfriend and kiss someone else. Ironically kissing Ricky also gave me a slight self-esteem boost, but not for the reason you'd might think."
"Okay, so why did your self-esteem go up?"
"I realized that there was nothing wrong with me. Ricky blew me off after that night at band camp and Jimmy blew me off after our first date, and thankfully we never got past first base. Some guys just aren't interested in having a relationship with me and that's their problem, not mine. I still wanted an answer for exactly why Jimmy blew me off, but I decided I was done waiting for him to call me back."
"But did you like kissing Ricky again?"
"Yes and no." Ashley raised an eyebrow in question.
"Like I said, Ricky's a good kisser and it felt nice, but there was no emotion behind it. When Ben kissed me I could tell that he genuinely wanted to be kissing me and that he was attracted to me. When Ricky kissed me, it was just a kiss."
"But what about now, now that you know he actually does care about you?"
"I don't know, Ash. I don't know if he cares about me or just has moments when he feels like being nice to the mother of his son, but eventually I'll sit down with him and we'll hash it out."
"Do you think you'd even consider being in a real relationship with him?"
"I don't know yet, Ash. I've still got too many unanswered questions about our 'relationship' to be able to answer that."