Flash Fiction: A Tale of Two Sisters
by Sinmisola Ogúnyinka
“I hate my mother!” Rita burst out. “I can’t help it.”
Pastor Winner arched an eyebrow. “It’s Mother’s Day month. I least expected you to say that.”
Rita rolled her eyes. “I can’t celebrate her.”
Winner sat forward. “Do you want to talk about it?” She clasped her hands around the hot cup of coffee Lisa served her before she left to her job. As the new female leader of the young adults’ church, she had started visiting all the ladies, and had hoped she could visit with both sisters, when she called a week earlier to fix the appointment, and didn’t know Lisa had a new job, which took her out all night.
Rita sighed. “She’s so partial. She loves Lisa more than she loves me, and she can’t even pretend. I thought the older sister should be closer to the mom, not the other way.”
“I always thought so, too,” Winner said softly. “Growing up, my sister was close to Mother. It made me so jealous. But I was much younger and couldn’t really enjoy what they did together.”
Rita frowned. “Like what?”
“Well, shopping for groceries. Cooking. You know, things like that. But then my sister left home for college, and never returned. She got married. I went on to seminary years later.” Winner shrugged. “I did become close to my mother but never like my sister Mary. They were like twins.”
“My mother is like that with Lisa. They giggle like teenagers. They never let me into their jokes.”
Winner involuntarily looked around. “Your mom. Does she live with you two?”
“No. She lives and works on the west side. Lisa visits her every day.” Rita shook her head. “Just to glean favor.”
“Is that what you think?”
“Why else? Mom expects me to suck up to her like Lisa, and I won’t.” Rita pressed her lips together. “I won’t.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way, Rita.” Winner sipped her coffee. “Hmm, great blend.”
“Very expensive too. Lisa buys it. Says it’s Mom’s favorite.”
Winner nodded. “I like it.” She inhaled. “Tell me about your mom. What does she do?”
Rita rolled her eyes again. “She’s a janitor. Ever since Dad passed, she’s been mentally unstable, so we decided it was better for her to live close to her job. At a home with caregivers. The service is part of the rent.” She slouched. “The alternative was to live with Lisa and me. She wanted to!”
“But you and Lisa agreed it was best to have her at the home?”
“Lisa fought me over it, but I was working round the clock. Lisa had a job too.” Rita groaned. “Who would be here to attend to Mom?”
“What was Lisa’s theory? I mean, how did she plan to care for your Mom?”
“She was going to leave her job at first. But then there are bills. So, she started looking for another job. This one she got.” Rita gesticulated. “It’s a permanent night job. Mom works night too. Lisa’d be able to be home with her during the day when I’m working. It’s so selfish.”
Winner stared at the coffee a tad longer than necessary. She could feel the pain in Rita’s voice, more than the anger. A child crying out for acceptance, justification, but not ready to sacrifice. Only that Rita was no longer a child but a single woman with a corporate finance job earning more money than she could spend.
Winner did not want to ask, but she had to. “When last did you see your mom?”
“Mother’s Day. I got there with a bunch of red roses and couldn’t find space for it. Lisa had the whole house decorated with flowers and pictures.” Rita cried. “Mom didn’t even give me a smile.”
Winner took a sip of her coffee to wet her dry throat. “You had no clue Lisa was going to be there early?”
“She left here the day before and told me she’d not be back until after work Tuesday morning.” Rita shook her head. “I thought dinner with Mom would be fine. It wasn’t. It was not enough for my mother. Twice she wanted to thank me for the roses I brought and called me Lisa.” Rita clenched her fist. “I’m not going there again.”
Winner glared at Rita. “She probably won’t miss you.”
About the Author
Sinmisola Ogúnyinka is a pastor’s wife, mother, writer and movie producer, and the published author of Under a Red Delta Sun and Blue Dawn. She has a bachelor’s in Economics, an MFA in Creative Writing and is a Craftsman of Jerry B. Jenkins’ former Christian Writers’ Guild. She lives with her family in Philadelphia, PA.
You can read Sinmisola’s “Flash Fiction” column on the 4th Tuesday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.