My sister has always been an angel. Her skin was dark and blemish free, the color of the smoothest blend of chocolate. Her legs were long and firm, soft as a leafling. My eyes were a deep brown, darker than my own and sharp like a knife’s edge glinting in the firelight. Our parents were overjoyed when they had Radia – they still talk about how she was born with a head full of luscious hair that never quite curled in the heat. Straight black hair flowed in the wind as she gave them a steady smile, her plump lips curling up softly.
In contrast, I was born a frail thing, fresh out of the womb and pink in the cheek. No luscious locks crowned my head, my skin was sickly and dark, and my tongue lolled out of my tiny mouth any chance it got. The only extraordinary thing about me was the color of my eyes– a light hazel brown, with speckles of violet and gold. It’s the only thing that made me stand out in the crowd. The only thing that got me bullied in school too.
What are you looking at, you think you’re special cause you got freaky eyes?
Yeah! Who do you think you are?
Bitch! Slut! Freak!
My parents considered me a weak, spineless creature, for I could not handle the bullies on my own. Though my mother cried for me, I knew those tears were fake. She never loved me, hah, those tears are nothing but chains she threw around my body to keep me in place, to anchor me at the docks of her wrath. I should be grateful that the wrath of those in school is nothing compared to what I suffer at home. Radia would often turn a blind eye to the violent tendencies of everyone around me. She knew what happened to me in school; the girls pulled me away to the janitor’s room to punch and kick me in the stomach, and the boys would taunt and jeer me, even going as far as yanking my hair.
And through all that I had to endure, Radia was a constant, always lurking in the shadows, watching over me in unperturbed silence, like a guardian angel, one of God’s devices, warned not to interfere with the affairs of mere mortals. But when the name-calling and abuse got too much to handle, I saw Radia come out of the shadows, her eyes as bright and hot as a live wire, shooting daggers at the perpetrators that surrounded me. No one dared to look at me then. I was lesser than dirt in front of my sister, my God. Radia pulled at the hair of the girls who tortured me with an iron grip until she ripped out clumps of their limp strands, throwing them like flowers we throw at God’s feet. She cut down their ego with her serpentine tongue, piercing their ears and hearts with the deathly lithium venom of her rage.
“I’ve been watching you all these days and your audacity astounds me. How dare you hurt what’s mine?” My sister bellowed as she beat a girl with a broomstick nearby, ravishing even in her frenzied attempt at protection.
“W-we didn’t know! Radia- please, please, let us go-”
“No. Mark my words now, you wretched bitches. If any of you so much as touch a hair on my sister’s scalp, I will skin you alive.”
“We’re s-sorry! Sorry, Lily- please tell her to stop.”
My sister, my God, in her merciful cruelty, stopped her beating and turned to me, face flushed red from her righteous exertion. She looked at me with pleading eyes. They whispered to me in hushed urgency. Let me be your sword and shield. The girls couldn’t handle the looming silence as I lay limp, propped against a wall facing them as my sister exacted justice. The tension was palpable, like a living breathing thing, heavy in the air, and the final thread of their patience snapped.
“L-Lily, say something, you disgusting bitch!”
“Yeah, freak! Have some mercy-”
Mercy? ‘I’ should have mercy? I looked at Radia, who was shaking from holding back a punch, still waiting for my word. She had tears running down the supple curve of her cheeks, she looked torn between fighting and fleeing, like she didn’t want to hurt anyone. Oh, my poor sister, my angel, I’m sorry for making you do this, but I can’t do this alone.
“Don’t stop, Radia. Make them bleed.”
Radia smiled so wide upon my command, her fiery eyes burned in her thirst to avenge me. She turned to the girls and started laughing like a mad thing, picking up the fire extinguisher and making her way to my bullies. They’d scurried into a corner like rats, screeching at the top of their lungs in fear.
That’s right, I’m the monster.
“Don’t you have a heart?”
How could I, when you ripped it out yourself?
“Have mercy, you bitch!”
Why should I have mercy for those who hurt me?
“W-we’re sorry, Lily! Please save us!”
I smiled as my Savior avenged me.
Their cries melded into a beautiful symphony, charging the air with rage and torment.
My blood boiled at the sight. Radia was my guardian angel, she was my God, but she was also my sister. She shouldn’t have to protect a weakling like me. Radia made each one of those girls bleed and scream that day, and no one dared to open the closet doors. They knew that Judgement Day was here and that Radia was the one overseeing their punishment. She spared their lives that day, as a lesson to all who hurt me.
Everyone said Radia was born lucky, and I was lucky to be born. But we sisters know the real truth. That Radia was born to rule the lands, but I was born to rule Radia’s heart, her body, her soul. She was mine just as I was hers. Two halves of a whole.
She was merciful in her cruelty, but cruel in her mercy. If she was going to protect me, she should’ve protected me earlier on! She could’ve prevented me from ever being hurt again..so why was she doing this now..? I mused over this question for hours on end, turning it this way and that in my mind in an attempt to reveal her ulterior motive. But what motive would a God need to protect her child? I shelved the thought, for now. I’d get to the bottom of this later.
Nobody touched me at school after that, everyone revered me instead. They sang my praises and asked to have lunch together, but I refused them all, choosing to visit Radia in her classroom instead. Radia was surrounded by her friends, boisterous and loud in their happiness, a stark contrast to the silence and dismissive gazes I received every day. And yet, with all this light and joy around her, Radia looked sickly and tired, she trembled in her seat as one of her friends fed her, not caring to ask what was wrong. Guilt pooled in my gut the more I stared at her. This was my doing, what she did to those girls must be taking a toll on her. I took a deep breath, filling my lungs with air and courage.
“Raddy! Look here!” I yelled, the childhood nickname I gave her still startled my sister, it was funny. Radia looked around the room with her newfound energy, her friend got off of her lap and let her stand to search for my voice. That’s when she noticed me, hiding behind the door. Radia grinned at me as she parted ways with her many lovers and made her way to me. She ruffled the hair on my head and took me to the staircase leading up to the piano room, I silently walked behind her, listening to her chatter with a refreshed spring in her step.
We entered the room and shut the door behind us, tip-toeing our way to the cushioned piano seat lest the floorboards creak. She turned to me and pressed her hand against my forehead, her eyes scanned my face, asking me what was wrong. I shook my head sideways, silently letting her know that I was okay.
“Are you okay?” I murmured, afraid she might get mad at me for fussing over her. I have the right to fuss over her though, she’s my flesh and blood. The only one that mattered.
“Why do you ask?” She asked coolly. Ask her now. Ask her what her real intentions are.
“Why did you save me back then?”
“Why? What kind of question is that- Why wouldn’t I-”
“You never helped me before,” I asserted, fed up with her constant deflection. The look on Radia’s face gave away what she was thinking: Ah, I’ve been caught. She straightened her back and looked forward silently, honesty and reason warred behind those kind eyes.
Finally, she turned to me and looked me in the eye, searching for any ill intentions she thought I had behind my line of questioning. Finding none, she turned around and started stripping. I was speechless, the absurdity of the situation sinking in.
“What the hell are you doing? Put your shirt back on-”
“You wanted to know, right?” Radia whisper-shouted. The dim light of the room turned her brown skin gold, but nothing could’ve prepared me for what Radia showed me. There were bloody welts on her back, treated with a yellow ointment and roughly covered by cotton gauze. Dark palm prints covered the soft skin of her arms and back, they were almost too painful to look at. That’s when it hit me: I’d never seen Radia in our summer uniform. She always wore a winter jacket, no matter the heat of the summer days. I could feel my eyes tear up, tasting bile in my mouth.
“Who did this to you?” I begged, reaching out to touch her wounds. She flicked my hand away, holding herself tighter, her palms digging into her sides.
“Who do you think?” She chuckled, slipping her shirt back on. No one dared touch Radia, so who could it have been- Oh. Oh, Radia. I threw my arms around Radia, pulling her into a tight embrace.
“How dare they touch you? Whatever for?” I growled, tightening my grasp around her.
“They’re my parents after all. If not them, then who?”
“That doesn’t answer my question, Radia, and you know it.” I pulled away from her, crossing my arms over my chest. “You can trust me, I’m your sister. You’re the only one I have..”
Radia tossed the words she wanted to spew like coins on her tongue, tasting each word, each feeling to find the sweetest way to convey her truth. Upon finding none, she hung her head low and broke down in front of me, her sweet voice muddled and torn as she sobbed into her palms.
My heart broke for Radia, my broken God. Oh, how much you have endured. I rubbed her head, coaxing her to speak. The words she said next shattered my soul.
“Dad beat me whenever I asked them why they did nothing to defend you. I- I called them horrible parents, for not caring for you better-” She paused to take a shuddering breath, and let the truth gush out of her.
“They beat me till I couldn’t move. They called me ungrateful and cruel to question them. All I did was for you, Lily. I’m sorry I couldn’t step in and help you earlier.” Radia wrapped her arms around me and cried into my shoulder for what felt like days. Any doubts I had about Radia’s allegiance dissipated with each tear that fell on my skin. This explains why she was torn to hurt the others, she was afraid of what our parents would do to her for taking my matters into her own hands.
“Raddy, I will always be here for you. I’m sorry I doubted you. Don’t worry, I’ll protect you from Mum and Dad-”
“You know it.”
They say parents are akin to God. So tell me, why were our Gods so cruel? Word had spread of what she’d done to my bullies. What she’d done to defend me. Our parents beat Radia black and blue, the resounding crack of their rough hand across her swollen cheek was too much to bear. She had protected me thus far, it’s time I returned the favor.
I stepped in front of her before my father could deal the final blow, this act of defiance enraging my mother, who came at me with the knife she was using to cut vegetables in the corner. A shrill cry ripped through her vocal cords.
“You pathetic bitch, you should’ve just died in my womb.” My mother’s words bore no surprise, they were just as sharp and painful as the knife in her hand, cutting a deep line up my arm. The scent of blood triggered my sister into rageful delirium. She pushed our drunk father onto his back and beat his head in with a ladle hanging over the kitchen drawers. My mother turned to face Radia, her eyes bloodshot in a murderous haze. Our mother shortly fell victim to Radia’s quick wrath and lay still by our father.
The people who were supposed to love us unconditionally, now lay unmoving on the hard wooden floor, like sacrifices to a furious God that demanded satisfaction. Radia and I stared at each other and back at the monsters who lay unmoving. We might have killed our parents; does that make us monsters too? But they were the ones who tried to kill us in their drunken state. All we did was defend ourselves, right? Radia seemed to have the same questions rushing through her mind, her sore face tear stricken and bloody. I can’t take this anymore. I stood up and slowly edged towards where my parents lay, kneeling to press a finger against their necks to check for a pulse. There was a faint beat. They were still alive.
I scrambled to Radia and prostrated myself at her feet, like a desperate soul before her Broken God. “They’re alive, but they’ll kill us when they wake up, Raddy,” I said, almost begging my sister, my God, to read between the lines.
“What are you suggesting, sister?” Radia just looked at our parents’ bodies solemnly, unmoving where she lay limp and broken.
“Run away with me! We can start over elsewhere. Please Radia, I want to live. And I need you to live, please.”
“Even if I am the monster that I am? A monster that can hurt other people, one that almost killed our parents?”
“They deserved it, Radia! Pull yourself together. Come.”
We packed and scurried away, the first taste of true freedom and the weightless bird thrumming in our chest intoxicated us with its euphoria as we sat in a train heading South. We didn’t know where we were going or who we’d run into. All we knew was that as long as we were together, no one could hurt us anymore.
My sister was a monster, my Broken God, but I was a monster too, for turning her into one.