Two Sisters, One Thinner, One Better Dressed

By Beth Ann Fennelly

When my sister and I would meet at her apartment before heading out to bars, I would choose my clothes with care. I knew that when I walked through her door, she would study me, especially if a few weeks or more had passed since we’d seen each other. Sisters are envious, sure, but we were also information gathering. We looked a bit alike, so it was a way to test how we’d fare in a different outfit, haircut. She was often thinner than I was, but I had better style. Younger by two years, I was her leader only in fashion; I would often be wearing something she hadn’t considered yet. She would ask me where I got it, and I would tell her, maybe showing off a little. Sometimes she’d want to try it on and I would accessorize her, cuff her jeans or angle the belt correctly on her hips. If she asked, we’d swap outfits for the night. It was worth being the frumpier one to make her happy.

I’m still aware of how I look when I visit her. I live in a different state now, so it’s not as often, but when I’m back in Illinois at our mom’s house, I always end my run by visiting her. I stand panting in the grass at my sister’s feet. I’m aware of how she sees me, huffing clouds from my lungs, my legs strong, my skin bright with sweat in my new running clothes. Still showing off, I suppose, as she’s stuck wearing the navy suit I chose the last time I styled her, a suit now thirteen years outdated, though fashionable enough when they closed the casket.

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