My mad sister and I go back a long way. It’s hard to say just where, why or when my sister appeared. Sometimes it feels as if she was always with me, my mad sister, like twins who shared the same life in each and every way until something happened. That’s it I suppose, something happened to my poor sister.

My sister’s tale is large and confused, it’s difficult both to understand and narrate, so I guess the only place to begin is right there.

She lives in a fantasy world, it’s all her stage, and things were large, bright and wonderful in my sister’s World once upon a time. Our mother remembers her earlier than I.

“Such a happy little girl!” she says. I find this hard to believe, for me my sister was always troubled. 

My earliest memory of my mad sister was-I guess- when she was nine. Perhaps I never noticed her before, but around nine my sister started to pray and stopped talking. Not that she didn’t pray before but now all she asked God for was death. She had a strong faith in those days and honestly believed that if she prayed long enough and doubtlessly her prayers would be answered. But God betrayed her. 

As my sister could not die she became larger than life. Her mouth became her tormentor; always open, ever ready, insatiable. In the end my sister ate raw sugar to appease it. She ate until she could eat no more and woke to find herself gross.

Nobody seemed to notice she had stopped talking but I noticed, and from then on my sister’s voice was forever in my head. The rantings, the ravings, compulsions, obsessions. I hang my head, is it me or she who cries:

“SHUT UP!”?

I do not know, but it is her who answers, screaming in her mania

“Talk to me, please talk to me. Talk to me about anything.”

“Can’t you think of anything but yourself?” I reproach.

“To the contrary” she replies, “I would give anything to be thinking of anything but myself. So talk to me, please talk to me…“. My poor sister.

Sometimes my sister cries every day, sometimes not at all for months, even years. Everyone thinks she is at her sickest when she cries but I know better. When she goes numb, and she can’t feel the things she’s feeling, and she can’t hear her own voice or thoughts over the noise in our head, can’t sleep, can’t eat, can’t stop eating-this is when I fear for my sister. My poor, lonely, looney, crackpot sister. 

My sister thinks she needs a man in her life to make her special-whole. It’s the last thing she needs. Sometimes she’s like a little puppy-dog,

“Love me, love me, love me!” she begs, as she clings to men who cannot love. I don’t pretend to fully understand her. 

My sister is not always sad, thank God! But still she lives inside her head, where distant islands shine like pearls within a sapphire sea. Where mountains perch amongst clouds, where countless stars sparkle and shooting they fall. Oh my sister, my sister. 

I love my crazy sister; sometimes you wouldn’t think she had a care in the world. She sees things differently than most people, and through her eyes sometimes all is new and wondrous. And sometimes all is darkness and despair. 

Sometimes my sister voice sounds the same as mine. As time goes on it gets harder to tell. Sometimes. 

Is it she who put heroin up our nose and pickles my liver with alcohol? Is it she who puts razors to our arms and, so slowly, so calmly slides them through our skin? Watches beads of blood change suddenly to tear drops she should be shedding but somehow cannot? Comforted by pains distraction, is it she who cries out in anguish and despair:

“Stop doing this to us!” or me to her? 

 I look in the mirror and see myself and she laughs as she says to me:

“But don’t you see? I’m OK; it's you not me!” 

My mad sister and I go back a long way. 



 


Fallen

 oil on canvas 30"x 54"