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Brooke’s eyes reflect sparkling water, while holding secrets of great things done or about to be done. It’s strange how regardless of what they are set on that Brookelyn’s eyes always seem to show the reflection of a stream. Maybe it’s an abundance of expression, compensation of her silence or her simple uniqueness. Regardless of why they shimmer like a mountain spring, the fact remains they do, giving her the ability to smile with them alone.

My father once told me that he was fascinated by my little sisters artwork, that ability to manipulate paper and ink or graphite. This was some time before she turned to pastels, watercolors, oils, chalk and charcoal. Now we all are captured by the creations of her hands. Possibly our amazement comes in part because she is the only one in the family with talent for such things. I don’t believe that’s entirely it, nor is it that she is talented. The admiration and astonishment of Brooke’s art is mostly do to her casualness about the work. She will give them away, paint over fine works and when praised, simply smile.

She truly believes her talent is just practice, comparing it to the likes of learning a song on guitar, casting a fly-line, ice skating, tying flies or riding a horse. Each of these too can be an art form. So of course I can see the resemblance. It’s not that she is not grateful for her talents. Brooke is completely aware of her gifts, humbly giving credit to almost anyone besides herself. The one exception is she will acknowledge the hours spent perfecting everything she does. Though again she sees it not as anything other than doing what comes natural.

Across the room Dad stands behind Brooke watching her apply oil to canvas. She is currently working on one of two paintings in progress on the twin easels in the corner of our family room, that sit next to the oak table where flies are tied. Two paintings are almost always in progress, allowing for work to be done on one if the linseed oils of the other require time to dry. Plus there are the sketches, pastel works and charcoal drawings that lay scattered across what once was our bedroom but now feels more like Brooke’s alone. I assure you this doesn’t bother me, it’s part of growing up and the art is so beautiful I wouldn’t care even if all my time was spent here.

Brooke looking over her shoulder at Dad smiles pausing for a moment before returning to her piece. During this moment it occurs to me that what I’ve thought was a reflection of running water in her eyes is in fact love. Love so strong and powerful that it can be seen. Love so amazing that it pours out into everything she attempts. Love beyond words spoken by poets or told by play writes from long ago. There is so much love within her that Brookelyn’s small frame and stature can not contain it, resulting in this love overflowing from every aspect of her. This love fills the room, the sights and hearts of everyone she encounters. Leaving me today with a thought. Somewhere out there, a boy who doesn’t yet know it, will someday look into the rivers of my sisters eyes and without saying or hearing a word become the luckiest man to have ever lived.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Brooke once asked me if it was “disheartening to need to ask forgiveness for the same thing over and over again”. Reading her words I was initially confused, I didn’t see my sister as needing forgiveness for anything. Brooke turned back to the work she was completing with oil pastels.

“What do you need forgiveness for?” I asked still completely clueless to her wrong doings.

Nose scrunched Brookelyn shakes her head, picking up yellow tablet and pen. As she writes, her eyes continually look up at me, either checking to make sure I’m waiting for her words, or more as if she wants to ensure I was serious about the question.

Looking down on ink with smudges from the pastels that passed from Brooke’s fingers to paper. For the first time it occurs to me, that being a perfectionist is not easy. All her talents that I’ve felt made her almost perfect, have been bought with hours of practice and more than a little angst. Truth be told, Brookelyn sees the world and life differently than I do. Those actions, thoughts and moments we all write off as being human, my baby sister holds to her heart. On a yellow sheet of paper, similar to the ones I’ve read her words on so many times before, I read, gaining insight to Brooke’s view of perfection.

“Forgiveness for things like, being sad about not having the ability to sing. About not thanking God for everything, even my silence. Also, for not giving more. I am not always sad about not being able to sing and I’m not always ungrateful. But when I am I have to ask forgiveness and it seems like too often.”

One thing for certain, Brooke is grateful for her gifts. She just holds herself to a higher standard than anyone else I know. What I learned was that it isn’t as easy as it appears, chasing perfection that is. She is a sweetie!

20130615-135146.jpgSpeaking of sweet! The wonderful author of Mummy Flying Solo awarded this blog “Super Sweet Blogging Award”.

The Award like many in the world of blogging comes with some rules. I’ll do my best to follow them, though Brooke is much better at the whole rules thing than myself. But here they are and my attempt to comply:

1. Thank the Super Sweet Blogger that nominated you. That’s Mummy Flying Solo

2. Answer 5 Super Sweet questions. That’s below…

3. Include the Super Sweet Blogging Award in your blog post. It’s the cupcake pic

4. Nominate a baker’s dozen (13) other deserving bloggers. This was difficult with so many great bloggers but I listed them below…

5. Notify your Super Sweet nominees on their blog. did this of course…

5 SUPER SWEET QUESTIONS

1. Cookies or Cake? Both? Cake for me, COOKIES for Brooke!

2. Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate without a doubt for both Brooke and me.

3. Favorite Sweet Treat? Choclate for me and Key Lime Pie for Brooke.

4. When Do You Crave Sweet Things The Most? After exercising! Brookie always loves and wants them.

5. Sweet Nick Name? we all often call Brookelyn, ‘Brookie Cookie’..

13 NOMINEES FOR THIS SUPER SWEET AWARD
In no particular order…

1. Megan at her wonderful blog of creativity! Creative Magic Her writing is brilliant on every subject she chooses.

2. Tony Williams is “Honest Puck” the author of, Tony’s Text. I have to say “Puck”, who’s name he adopted is one of my favorite characters of all time.

3. Jnana Hodson is the man from New England behind the wonderful Jnana’s Red Barn

4. Coach E. not to be confused with coachie pens words about his girls and life on his blog Coach Daddy Blog. As a daughter of a coach, I get it and love it. His girls seem precious by the way.

5. Dennis McHale shares his amazing poetry on his blog The Winter Bites My Bones. His poetry is absolutely amazing in every way.

6. Along with tips on parenting some laughs can be had at Taking My Monkeys Back To The Zoo.

7. Check out The Chatter Blog, for touching, witty posts on a ton of subjects. It’s part of my daily reading.

8. Doodlemum sketches her family and the events of their day. If you don’t follow this, you are missing out on one of WordPress’s treasures.

9. The Lovely T, writes about her life on Mess Of The Day Wreck Of The Year. Honest and open, strong writing can be found here.

10. Arlee, is raising six children and running a day care! How she finds times to write the amazingly insightful posts on Small Potatoes , I have no clue. I’m glad she does though.

11. Tyler McKenzie on his blog Cross Shaped Stuff shares his faith and tales about his love and so much more. It’s upbeat, and even if you don’t share his faith worth reading.

12. Growing up in a rural area and then moving to New York city would be culture shock to say the least. On her blog Girl of The Corn, the reader gets to go along for the ride. This blog inspires me to be a better me.

13. Beth teaches little ones and anyone willing to read her blog, I Didn’t Have My Glasses On. She writes about all sorts of adventures with kiddos at school. The rest of the blog is made up of other things she loves and cares about. It’s a great blog around written by a wonderful person.

Thanks again to Mummy Flying Solo
That’s my thirteen! I understand Brooke a little better now, selecting thirteen of the hundreds of blogs I follow and read leaves me feeling like I let people down.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Individual blades of grass sway in the breeze, turning the pasture behind our home into a sea. Brookelyn leads us away from the house, her pink kite trailing behind her. Since I can remember she has had an attraction to flight, or to things with a line. Of course, I too enjoy the brightly colored flying machines that Dad helped us build and Mom assisted us in decorating but Brooke loves them. She thinks they are magical, whereas I tend to take them for granted.

At the time I had no idea how special the home of my youth was. The small two story house much the same as all of our neighbors, with two bedrooms, a kitchen with attached dining space, a family room and not much more in structure. Where the rarity lies is in the hearts of the people who raised us girls in a way that time has left long ago. The more people I in counter in life, the clearer it is that things were unusual to say the least. From the origami toys we made, marbles we pitched, balls bounced in effort to capture jacks, strings pulled to send tops that were hand carved by father spinning across hard wood floors, and of course the homemade kites, our childhood toys were from generations passed.

Our parents could have purchased the newest toys, video games and items we played with when visiting friends if they had wished. Maybe it was influence from our Amish neighbors, or perhaps they wanted us to know an innocence many of our generation has not been granted. Regardless why, there we were making our way through grass kites floating behind us, waiting to be hoisted high into the sky by moving currents of air.

Brooke is the first to get her kite to take full flight and carry up into the heights of sky. Watching the bright pink creation rustle in the breeze, she keeps the line taunt to ensure flight. I watch a while, mostly my sisters smile and eyes before I begin lofting my own. Of course we encounter failures, tangled strings and at times even sorrows as our hours of hard work crash and crumble in the high grass, not on this day however.

We fly our kites without incident until interest fades, leaving us side by side on our backs staring up at moving clouds. Brooke listens as I tell the story the clouds paint, today it’s the typical princess in palace tale. As the story concludes with nights brave rescue, turning to younger sister I ask if she wished we had a video game consoul like our cousins do. Brooke turns to me, nose wrinkled and shakes her head no. Now smiling she signs, “I like building and flying kites and stories of princesses living in the clouds more.”

Now, after a year in a dorm room. Experiences that I never imagined, like traveling with teammates across the country, I understand what our parents gave us in our unusual, by today’s standards, home. In a way it was each other, time dreaming, imagining and playing together. Finishing this post I ask Brooke if she has a kite, and if we are too old to still fly them. Words are quickly scribbled on yellow pad, that is tossed my direction as she bounces up stairs.

“Yes., I made one not that long ago and that’s silly, you can’t get too old to fly kites! We are the perfect age!”

-Brooke’s Sister

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Small hands, the sort that belong to a child, with slightly rounded fingers, offer me a folded note. Brooke on one barefoot stands tilting first to left than right to find the balance required to go up on her toes. She is at that age of adventure, the time in life when we want to try new things and something deep inside has made her fearless. Only age and the rules of our parents keep her from being off on an adventure, traveling down rivers or scaling mountains. At eleven, though older than Brooke, I am cautious knowing the world has teeth. Teeth that can bite you, leaving scars like the one on my right hip, caused by stitches that pieced me back together after the nail in the barn post found its way into my flesh.

Unfolding the wrinkled note, Brookelyn’s yet to be perfected penmanship spells out a plan. The sort of plan that would have been conducted in private secret by my smaller companion had there not been a need for my size and strength. At the time I assume she is also in need of my engineering and wit to complete the adventurous plot of bravery. Time has taught me to know better of that. Reading over Brooke’s words a second time, my young mind searches for an alternative or a way to discourage this act laid out before me. The plan is much too dangerous for the more cautious sister to take serious. Maybe a distraction will do the trick I tell myself suggesting Brooke allow me to push her on the swing hanging in our front yard.

Long hair trails behind my sister, who’s toes grip the wooden plank of the swing dad constructed and hung from the lone tall tree in our front yard. In efforts to reach new heights and feel her need of quest, I push Brooke firmly each time she approaches me. When swing and young sister reach the greatest point in the sky we have accomplished, to my surprise she leans forward and stretches. I know before it happens what will come next. In a shout I request she remain on the swing, adding my concern that it’s too high to jump. My warning disregarded the ropes holding the platform are released and youthful toes push off. Flying through the air towards appealingly lush soft green grass is Brooke. If she could I’m certain my ears would have been filled with her squealing in excitement. Landing on one foot, then tumbling forward, left hand catching the ground, Brooke rolls across the yard.

Sitting in the starch white of a waiting area with dad, mom leads Brooke out by her right hand. Her left arm is wrapped in plaster and then a purple tape, intended to contain the broken bone of her arm to ensure it heals properly. Again I apologize to everyone, my parents ensure me that accidents happen and it’s not my fault. Brooke smiles huge and hands me the stickers she has received for her bravery form the doctor. This is her way of saying, “hey sis, I jumped! Chill out and have a sticker, it’s no big deal!”

Later that day holding one of my fathers hands and Brooke holding the other, looking out across the fields beyond our home, with the safety of fathers grip we complete Brooke’s earlier noted request. From the top of the barn I wonder how this is safer than the swing we used so many times. Dads hand ensures me that it is not dangerous, his words explain how we can never come up here without him and I have my answer. Dad holding Brooke’s pants by the top back, she stretches bravely on her toes, looking out as far as she can see, assuring anyone in doubt that unlike me, bravery can not be diminished by the teeth of our world.

Retelling the events today and hearing my sisters perspective made me laugh. Brooke while reliving it all with me simply wrote, “It was actually quite disappointing! I’d hoped you could see the ocean from the top of our barn.”

-Brooke’s Sister

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Melodies resonate in the living room of our comfortable home. Tones, that are strung together in harmony with love. Brooke’s fingers find the notes of a piece older than the farm house that my father with his loving hands has restored, giving us girls a place to grow, eat, sleep and feel our parents love. Like that love Brookelyn wrinkles her brow as small fingers fly across frets and the eight taunt strings of what was once grandfathers mandolin. In fascination I hear the familiarity of Robert Johnson’s work. Sure I too have learned to play the instrument, bluegrass and traditional songs. What has me memorized is my little sister taking the blues piece we both love and playing it first on her guitar, then on grandpa’s mandolin.

Keeping thoughts to myself, just being in the moment absorbing the sound, my eyes close. To astonishment my eyes snap open as Brooke suddenly swings the song into a jazz number I think I recognize but can’t name. Noticing my reaction, she smiles for less than a second before her eyes return to the instrument in her hands. Mom is now standing in the entryway smiling at her youngest who plays on. In her hands is a plate, the kind loving mothers present to those they most care about. On it’s surface is a nutritious mixture of sliced apples, with the less healthy but rewarding drizzle of honey across them. The plate being placed on small table beside the sofa I’m seated on brings the music to a halt.

Apples being one of Brooke’s favorite treats, I wait until she selects the first one. As the refreshing crisp fruit cools my mouth, Brookelyn’s hand gently grazes my cheek, while mom returns to the kitchen. Though unsuspected, the touch does not startle me, it’s simply normal. With the gentle touch Brooke has told me she loves me, thanked me for letting her chose the perfect bite of snack before selecting my own. A cool breeze can be felt through the window with it bringing in natures fresh scents, as we crunch the apple sliced in equals so it can be shared. Finishing my bite, I ask Brooke what the jazz song that she infused with Johnson’s piece is. Scrunching her nose she grabs a tablet from the floor and writes her response. Looking at the words, “nothing, I just made it up” I’m not really surprised but am impressed.

After a discussion of when she began writing melodies so advanced, I realize while away at college, it hasn’t been me that’s growing and finding education. Brooke explains that with me away, the music helps to ease those moments that she feels alone. There really is nothing I can do about this, college is important, plus I need the experience, friends and freedom. Yet, I feel the pangs of guilt for her being alone. By thinking of her almost nonstop, wondering what her thoughts would be, missing her laying on the floor drawing for hours on end, seeing the glow of light from the corner desk where she ties flies, have I once thought what it is like for her? Truthfully, I haven’t, me missing the soft notes on a guitar and all the rest was about me. For the first time, today home for the summer, I am aware that Brooke still needs me.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Paper when folded properly can become planes, swans or boats. Of course if one masters that art of folding pressing, refolding and bending it can be so much more. Those little boxes you can blow into to expand to a square, or the four sided question and answer machine we all played with in junior high, in order to find who we’d marry, where we’d live and how many kids would run through our house. Just as make believe as the lives we lived out by picking colors, numbers or whatever our peers chose to scribble on the folded finger puppet, was the other things we made.

In our house the origami items where tools to another world, taking us places far beyond the house, fields and streams that made up our reality. When made correctly a plane could fly us across the Atlantic ocean of our living room carpet to generally crash, though we always safely left the bent nosed wreckage, to see the beautiful Eiffel Tower that one of us had folded. There in our fancy hats, we would watch the swans swim on French ponds, in our boats, which strongly resembled the hats we wore on our heads. These wonderful folded adventure tools always had the elegant writing of Brooke on them, telling her part of our adventure I narrated. Whether trips to Rome, or into dangerous battles, some famous like Napoleons great defeat, or the ones with trolls and dragons, Brooke and I spent hours in our paper created worlds.

One day as I was lost in imagination folding and telling our adventure. Brooke tapped my leg to get my attention. Looking up from my work into the sparkling eyes of childhood companion and friend I was surprised to see her laughing. It’s always startling to me when she silently laughs and I’m clueless to the laugh and source of amusement. The feeling is a combination of awkwardly dancing to music you’ve never heard, being walked in on while changing and being the one in the group that really has no understanding of the joke being laughed at. Following Brookelyn’s slender arm leading to the hand with pointing finger, I too begin to laugh. There in the floor, our brown lab on her belly is stalking our paper creation. The work he approaches is a small boat carrying what was once the paper versions of ourselves but now just one remains. Leaving no doubt that one of us has fallen victim to his jowls already.

After some laughter, a note passed my way reads, “I saw him coming and being the smart one, swam for shore.”

Of course I know this isn’t true, our dog has ate one of our paper figures, but that’s not what gives away her false writing. Anyone who knows Brooke, is aware she isn’t the type to run from a battle, no she looks under the bed in those moments of fear, when a child is certain a monster resides there. Plus, I can’t say how I know but just like I’d never abandon her in danger, ever ounce of me is certain that she’d never leave me.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Slamming the door that keeps, the bedroom Brooke and I share, private from the rest of the world and mostly our parents, I shout at the people who love me the most. The words yelled are hateful, mean, the type intended to push others away. Of course my outburst is mostly a cover for the hurt I feel at the moment. That emotion I seldom let others see, and generally cover with a secondary one like anger or rage.

Through the white paint, wood and space my fathers voice comes. Telling me that he understands I am upset but expressing a need to discuss the issue of the hour in which I returned home. As his manner in all things with us girls, he is gentle and kind. Finally in tone that makes my now crying self move closer to the door that separates us, Dad suggests that I get some sleep and we converse over my disregard for curfew in the morning. Fathers hand gently pats the wood of the door jam, not unlike the way I’m certain he did Brooke’s head hours ago when she went off alone to bed. This is the moment I am completely aware, that of course Brookelyn is awake and sitting up, rubbing sleepy eyes, in the bed against the farthest wall. Turning towards her she smiles, ensuring me that a fight with dad has no impact on our relationship.

In the moments that follow I hit what for me is my all time worst behaviors as a human. Something about her sweet gentle smile, sleepy eyes and the knowledge that she does not rebel or create problems for mom and dad, infuriates me. My mind is racing, full of embarrassment for the ridiculous explosion, frustration over having the earliest curfew of all my friends, resentment that I disappoint Dad when Brooke doesn’t, and finally it’s too much, the anger wins out. I’ve often relived this incident but as I write it, fear fills my heart. I was ugly, imagine the spawn of Satan in all the movies containing such character, combine them into one ugly critter. With a heart of stone and rage, I attempt to share my misery. Yet, some are incapable of things like speech, hate, anger and ever being ugly.

“Brooke, don’t just stare at me!” I shout, as she complies laying down and turning toward the wall. She is doing the only thing that comes to mind, the natural response of following what she is told to do.

For reasons I can’t explain, my evil is not out, something inside me still begs to be released. Still in a shout I continue on. “What the fuck is wrong with you? Don’t just always do what people tell you! It’s dumb and makes you a wimp and nobody likes a wimp! That’s why you don’t have hardly any friends because you are lame!” I’m shaking because I’m yelling so loud, I haven’t noticed that Dad has violated our rule of entering our room without knocking. The rare experience of shouting and worst yet the f word in our home, possibly the last time it’s used, warrants concern.

He is standing in the doorway observing only, just making sure I don’t do anything too bad. But I have already gone too far, I’ve already said things I’ll regret, hurt the most beautiful person I’ll ever know. Seeing our father does not calm me but makes it worse, I am certain he is about to get on to me and rescue the daughter he loves the most. Of course I am wrong, he doesn’t have a favorite, he won’t rescue her, no he is just insuring we don’t physically fight, though I am certain Brooke would not fight.

All my built up guilt, pain and “troubles”, explode in a final outburst of extreme rage. “That’s right just lay there, don’t say anything at all. Oh, that’s right, I forget we all should feel sorry for you cause you can’t say anything at all!”

As if knowing what will come next, like a palm reader, Dad sighs, turning to exit closing our bedroom door behind him. With the click of the brass sound of door shutting my tears began falling as I’m filled with guilt and shame. Laying silently, the tremble of crying is evident in my sisters shoulders. They shake as her hands go up to cover her eyes, while I turn off the light and crawl into my bed feeling miserable but deserving of the emotion. Hours pass as I’m consumed by the silence of Brooke crying, out of shame I can’t cry myself, instead I wish myself dead, or for strength to tell her the truth. Just a little courage to stand and say, “Brooke, you are perfect, don’t change or worry about friends or anything.”

The silence of misery is broken by a rustling of blankets, followed by bare feet quietly crossing the floor and then Brooke is beside me in my bed. Her cheek is wet from tears, but feels good against mine. Arms wrapped tightly around me, I finally begin to cry once more. Together holding each other we cry until sleep finally takes us. Of course she didn’t but I like to imagine that she said, “It is okay, I forgive you and love you even when you forget to love yourself.”

As always actions speak louder than words. The morning light does not wake me. Instead it is a gentle kiss from Brooke on my cheek as she gets out of my bed. I apologize, to which I receive a smile and wink, putting the event to rest forever. Well not for me, I still consider it my rock bottom, the event that marks my last real act of high school, teenage rebellion.

-Brooke’s Sister

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Lovingly my father insisted both the Bayer girls learn the art of fly-fishing. With certainty a memory of Brooke barely coordinated enough to move a rod back in forth in a strait motion, standing in our yard as father clapped out the rhythm that would ensure a looping cast, is engraved in my mind. I don’t recall learning to handle a fly-rod at such a young age, but doubtlessly remember the efforts of my sister. Long after my own arm tired or my interest faded to other activities, Brookelyn would still be standing in spring dusk working the hookless line in our front yard.

Our mother questioned dad only once about if in fact he possibly was pushing the youngest daughter too hard, or if the length of these casting sessions bordered on the level of cruelty. The inquisition ended with Brooke in tears struggling to sign and scribble a legible, “please let’s me play fishing.” At this point it was apparent to all three of us that if anything the smallest member of our family was the one lengthening the fly-fishing lessons. This was also the first sign of my sister’s slightly unhealthy obsession for perfection at any activity which she undertakes.

Several years have passed since Brooke and I were even close on the water in ability to handle rod and line. As the art insists this also sets her several leagues above me in enticing, hooking and landing fish. It also must be written that though I attend most fishing expeditions with Brookelyn and father, I go more to be with them than to work line or catch anything. Truth be told I know a day may come when I step away from my fly-rod and never pick it up again. Brooke on the other hand, when not wondering local water ways alone or with anyone willing to venture with her, often spends her time planning an adventure to come, or tying flies that she has deemed for season and certain species of fish. Not unlike the work she does on paper with pencil, pen or pastels, Brooke is an artist with her fly-rod and the tying of furs, feathers and string on a hook. As is the case with most talented artist her passion and love shows in the beautiful handcrafted flies and even more so in the grace of her cast, be it a standard, roll or shadow cast.

After spending this morning on the water with Brooke, I’m simply amazed at who she is becoming. At thirteen, I chased boys, fought at times with mom and dad and made more than a few mistakes. Watching Brooke stop from tying a #12 fly to write out our adventure from the day in an effort to tell Dad, who just walked in from work, it occurs to me that though I am older, she may in some ways be the more grown up of the Bayer sisters.

-Brooke’s Sister

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The first snow of winter always brings excitement to my heart. It was no different years ago when with eagerness I’d rise each morning, leaping from my bed to look out the window hoping to see a world covered in white. Of course on many occasions the first falling snow did not come while I slept but instead during the waking hours. This always created a feeling as if cheated, the way one feels when the shell they select is lifted revealing nothing where they are certain a pea should have been. The snow was not better when it fell while I slept, just the rush of finding change added to the possibilities of snowmen, wars raged with the white powder packed into balls and my favorite of all sledding, was beyond perfect.

Watching my breath fog the window from my sister and mines room, looking out at the white field infront of our home, my heart was racing. It had happened while I slept, enough snow had been released from the clouds that rolled in the prior afternoon to leave a glistening pearl view. Joyously shouting in triumph as if the feat was my own, as if Mother Nature had simply done as I’d ordered I crossed the room. Brookelyn sitting on the edge of her bed struggling into the pink snow pants, the ones I’d loved and worn when they were new. For a moment I try to recall, were they a birthday or Christmas gift from Uncle Lars? Leaving thought behind I continue on in an extatic voice, explaining how the snow is surely enough to delay the start of school, or possibly if luck holds cancel it all together.

Hearing my delight from down the hall, mother assures that my dreams are answered. She confirms that at least for the Bayer girls there will be no school on this wondrous Friday. Brooke, in snow pants now is pulling on wool socks, glances up at me with a big grin revealing the tooth she lost several days prior. The smile tells me she has heard and is excited about the news mom has delivered from the kitchen, while the aromas insist she is readying breakfast. Closing my eyes taking in the mixture of frying eggs and bacon, a vision of what she has promised fills my mind. It’s dad in the small barn behind the house, bundled in his hunter green coat, standing over his work bench. Upon the bench is of course the wooden sled, it’s runners turned up cold and hard awaiting the wax he is about to offer them.

Four socked feet race almost silently down the hall, at the stairs mine slow for safety and caution. Those belonging to my sister race past me, like most mornings, gracefully on her toes she barely touches each step until at the bottom, where she slides round a corner on the smooth hardwood floor. I enter the kitchen second as mom turns from the stove beginning to announce the ever so common statement often directed at children in regards to running in the house. The words are stopped before completely out, when her eyes meet her youngest daughters face. Brooke stands beside the chair at the small table in our kitchen that is her usual place, a slight smile on her face. However, it is not the smile that keeps mothers words on her tongue. It’s the one eyebrow raised, causing a slight squint of the other eye, a sign of acknowledgement that our family recognizes on Brookelyn’s face that leads to the silence. It is not that Brooke is allowed to violate rules of order that I am held to. It is something much more complex altogether. My sisters inability to speak, tends to make those who know her well find themselves in her silence. All in the kitchen are aware that there is to be no running in the house, and offending parties have apologized without words being said.

The silence is broken by fathers laughter and the slight creak of the side kitchen door. The announcement of this entrance to our house is not the type that suggest neglect, but rather the sort showing a dad, who does his own repairs, whom also values time with his girls over silent doors. With the three girls of his world all turning their attention toward him, he explains the cause of his chuckle. Brooke and I in our youth do not see humor in his explanation that if not a day promising snow and fun we’d still be upstairs grumbling about the hour. Of course he is correct, we would surely, (especially myself, Brooke is more of a morning person) still be getting ready and not nearly as excited. What we don’t understand however is why this is amusing to him and mother, who has now joined in the laughter. After all why would anyone show the same eagerness to get off to another day of school as a morning spent sledding with one of their heroes?

Bacon, eggs, toast and milk is devoured at a rate which would impress a drill sergeant, for the snow awaits. There is chatter about who will sled first, where the sled should be pulled and ‘what about a snowman?’ Brooke adds in a note slid to my father.

Looking back it now occurs to me, on a day when I would step away from scholastics and never think of writing so much as my name, she was still thinking of spelling and writing. Of course, she was already fluent in signing but preferred to write. Our father once explained that since Brooke was mute but heard perfectly, she never liked using sign language because people tended to sign back. I can’t say with certainty if that is the whole case, but it is possibly one reason why she prefers writing her thoughts.

Completing this post I watch Brooke with her best friend laughing in our living room. The friends laughter fills the room and Brooke in silence as always, joins her. The source of the humor I’m oblivious to, for like all teen girls who have one they are texting on their phones. I’ve heard adults speak negatively about kids and texting but picking up my own phone as I shout, “Brooke, what’s so funny?” I am filled with anticipation awaiting the buzz that will shortly announce the reception of my sister’s response.

Of course I still love the hand written notes, yet text is a wonderful way for Brooke to just be like any other teenager talking to her friends… As for me, if she is in ear shot, I still speak my part of our convos, just in case dad was right and she wants me to hear my voice.

-Brooke’s Sister

The kitchen faucet, as often is the case in small homes, the kind filled with love but not expensive wares, drips. The rhythm of the water bouncing on the stainless sink always much like the beat one feels when casting a fly-line. That steady timing, subtle and ensuring the perfect looping cast; that’s always seemed to come more naturally for my sister than myself. Maybe the always present drip of the kitchen sink that stands out in all my memories of my youth, in some way engraved its way into the silence of my sisters life. Ensuring she would always have that necessary time to keep line just above water’s surface long enough to dry a fly and gentle enough to present it in a way pleasing to the most skittish and finicky of trout.

Snapping thoughts away from the present reminder that I am home, from college for the summer, Brookelyn slides a yellow tablet across the table. Looking at my baby sister, who appears to have grown a lot in the short months since I last saw her, I am aware before I read the words on the tablet of what they will say. Her eyes have told me what she has written. Reading Brooke’s eyes is a skill I’ve developed over the years. Our father in many cases, especially in the days when my sister was younger and less adequate at her preferred ways of communication, has called upon me to do just that; to understand her. This is not to say that I understand her anymore than any sibling understands another. It is more just an intensified observation of nonverbal communication. As to the deeper aspects of Brooke, things like hopes, dreams and desires, assuredly my insight is lacking at best.

From the slightly pink cheeks on the elegantly sculpted face of the prettier of the two Bayer daughters, my eyes make their way down a slender arm, to a gentle hand, that if turned palmed up would reveal calluses on finger tips from hours of compressing strings on a fretboard. There my attention is held for a while. On a hand much the same as my own, though a little smaller and in many ways more adept at the things hands are generally used for, and even more so at a few skills that only certain select people choose to master. Brooke’s nails are painted the color that is her favorite. That softest of blues, reserved for misty skies, babies clothes and on some occasions the prettiest of eyes. The type of eyes belonging to the very person’s hand being studied. Examined as if it may be needed sometime from now as a memory to serve as a point of happiness or contentment in life.

In handwriting as familare as my own, a blue gel pen, has scrolled letters that combined in current combination spell just what I’ve suspected. The looping clear beautiful writing seems to express so much more than if it had come from any source other than the very one it has. Taking a moment to locate the words somewhere in mind, to reply to a statement that seems possibly routine to others. Once again I am aware of the water faucet tapping out the seconds. Normally I tend to talk quite freely with friends and strangers alike, but at times it’s just not like that with Brooke. Seldom concerned about the deepest meaning of words chosen, taking for granted that what is said can be reworded if necessary or possibly that words spoken are such a common event that little consideration is needed in sharing them.

However, reading over the blue ink on yellow legal pad, I’m reminded that speaking can not be taken for granted. For a second I close my eyes desperately trying to imagine a voice. A voice of perfect pitch that would capture the attention of anyone within its range. The very type of voice that is surely more charming than the sirens that led many sailors to their doom on rocky shores. In my racing mind I search for the voice suitable for my angelic, mute little sister. When as always I’m filled with silence, my own voice fills the room.

“Brookelyn, I love you too and I am glad you are happy to have me home.”

-Brooke’s Sister