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I Have a New Sister.

I have a new sister.

I already have two, didn’t think I’d need a third

But that was only the beginning,

Let's recount this story from the start.

A young man knocked on our door one evening,

He had travelled far, I guessed, due to his accent

Briefly at the door, then ushered to the parlour,

My two sisters, and I, were dismissed.

A couple of hours passed before the man left,

We, hopelessly in the dark as ever, sensed an atmosphere

Dad loved to play secret squirrel, so silence,

I could see he was deep in thought.

Later that night, after we had all gone to bed

I could hear through the mumbling walls,

Mum sobbing, shamefully he made her cry often,

I fell asleep that night also crying

Many weeks passed, and dad rented a small van

He packed out the back with a mattress

Some blankets and pillows

And a bag full of sweets and drinks

Then very early next morning

Before the dew had dried or the street had awoke

We set off quietly as secret squirrels

Unknowingly my life changed forever that day

As children, we didn’t realise the forthcoming landslide

How it would affect us in such a profound way

But eventually, we stopped, parked in front of a house

In a ghetto somewhere in Lancaster

Mum tried to tell us as we sat outside,

Just what was going on.

But as usual, Dad shut her up

Telling us this is all her fault

It turns out mum was not just our mum

She had been married before

We now needed to share her with someone else

That's what the young man at the door had said

Inside the house was a new sister

Her new husband

And their new baby, my nephew

My tranquil life disappeared in an instant.

Mum dampened a little white handkerchief with spit

Wiping chocolate from my mouth

Then with a wet hand, she smoothed

Any hair sticking up on my head

We lined up tallest to smallest at the front door

Dad knocked, entering as it opened,

We followed like sheep into a pen

Introduced as we walked in

The house was vile,

Soiled, washed or drying smelly nappies piled high

It was offensive to my senses,

I needed to return to our clean home

It transpires that mums first husband,

Was a man who beat her,

Scolded and belittled her,

How unfortunate to wed similar men twice

She had escaped her first relationship,

One night as he slept drunk in the dark,

Today's advice to abused wives is to escape,

Then, the advice was, it’s your bed, lie in it

So I met my new sibling,

I don’t think we hit it off,

Introduced to my new brother-in-law

Now can we go home?

The grass in both front and rear gardens

Grew higher than an elephant's eye

So there was no playing outside

Inside, the damp carpet smelled, so I stood

I learned, to my horror, that we were all staying

Travelling back the following morning

So, I slept on the van mattress

Laid on the floor of the box room

Overnight, creatures scurried in the darkness,

I don’t know what they were, nor was I interested,

But I think the stench made them go elsewhere,

I certainly wanted to be elsewhere.

We had biscuits and tea for breakfast that morning,

Whilst Dad reloaded the van,

I was happy to burn the mattress,

But it wasn’t my call.

We were ready to go, but suddenly

There was a knock on the door,

Standing there was a fourteen-year-old girl

A face sallow and thin with protruding teeth

Oh my God, Oh my God

I now have another sister

Oh my God, I also have an older brother

Will this nightmare never conclude

Over the next few years

Our lives become even more entwined

All siblings moved closer to us

Dad even adopted the minor sister

We had some happy moments,

We had many family rows

Dad ostracised them all, ultimately

And Mum suffered bitterly again at every loss.

A sister and my brother subsequently died,

I no longer communicate with any other,

There is a sadness in all that has happened,

Yet eight-year-old me would never understand.

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