A Price To Pay

My sister once asked me how I still have five fingers on each hand, because when I chopped vegetables I did it way faster than anyone she knew. Faster than mom had, when she was still around. And I loved it when she complimented my skills. I loved having that connection with mom. Livy loved it, too. As if mom wasn’t gone after all.

Now, after so many years, I find myself chopping up my own vegetables with my own knife in my own house bought with my very own money. It’s more than Livy and I could ever have dreamed for back in our childhood days. More than we could afford for sure. I chop silently, thinking of her. Livy. My sister. I loved her so much.

To clear my head I thrust the cabbage into the boiling stew and set the temperature on the stove. I take a few carrots and cut them up into even circles, which I also throw into the pot. I mix, I add spices, I smell my masterpiece. It was almost done. Carrots, onions, cabbage, vegetable broth, potatoes, ginger, salt and peppers all creating a mixture of goodness that smelled like the old days. Just how mom had made it. This was the first time I made it after she passed. After she passed, Livy and I couldn’t even hope for it. Or anything else, for that matter.

Because whereas we chose grieving, dad chose alcohol. Livy and I were scared to cross his path. He usually came home drunk and stressed, and lashed out his anger on the two of us. I remember. Not pretty.

Stop. Focus on the stew. I need more garlic. I open the fridge and take out the tiny pieces of garlic, clean my knife on a cloth and begin cutting it into satisfying squares. I remember whenever l used to cook, Livy would be so eager to help. So excited to watch me do something she used to watching mom do. So enthusiastic to learn more and be like me someday. What example have I set, leaving my home like that?

Cut. Just cut.

Livy. Poor Livy. Leaving her behind like that, alone with dad. Without a mother. A sister. She loved me. I betrayed her. Or had I? She would’ve wanted me to live a better life. We couldn’t both escape. She knew that. She gets it. Dad must’ve stopped drinking by now. Right?

The spices smell amazing, and the steam from the stew rises up my nostrils as I mix the garlic in. Perfect.

Something drops into my pot. A drop. A tear.

I have been ignorant for my own sake, and I do know it. The price I payed for leaving my home, my sister - was seeing her sad teary eyes every night in my dreams back when she begged me to stay. But she needs to understand. She has to. I had no choice.

The stew tastes great. Livy would’ve loved it.

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