The Ridiculous leaves a club before midnight.

Pink and blue neon lights cut through the smoky haze at MJQ. The underground club was relatively calm for a Friday night, but Andrea and I arrived when it opened at ten PM. We grabbed whiskey Diet Cokes at the bar and slid into an empty booth by the dance floor.

After observing the handful of people dancing, a thin mixed girl approached us.

“Hey, I’m Lizzie.”

We took turns shaking her proffered hand.

“I’m Samantha. This is Andrea.”

“Is anyone sitting here?” Lizzie gestured to the space next to Andrea.

“Nope!” Andrea replied.

Lizzie sat millimeters away from Andrea, who automatically  scooted closer to and rested her head on my shoulder.

Undeterred, Lizzie asked, “Do y’all wanna dance?”

“Sure!” Andrea jumped up and pulled me up after her.

Andrea shuffled and I twirled. Lizzie looped an arm around each of our waists, steering us so she would be the middle of a grinding sandwich. Quickly, I pulled Andrea to the bar. As we waited for our refills, Lizzie joined us.

“I’m cold.” Andrea shivered, hugging me.

Lizzie sized us up. “So how long have y’all been together?”

“Since we were fourteen!” Andrea sipped her freshened drink, still locked in a half-hug with me.

“Wow, so what, that’s like…ten years?”

“As of this summer, yep.”

“How ’bout y’all come back to my place? It’ll be quieter, so we can chill and get to know each other better.”

I finally spoke up. “No thank you! We’re going home.”

Lizzie frowned. “Y’all don’t want me to walk you there?”

I shook my head. “We’ll be fine — it’s just down the street.”

Andrea’s brow furrowed. “What about our drinks?”

“Chug it!”

“Aight, next time then!” Lizzie winked and walked back to the dance floor.

Once outside, I looped my arm through Andrea’s to prevent her from stumbling.

“Lizzie was trying to get us to go home with her.”

“Yeah, to hang out since it was smoky and loud in there.”

“No. She thought we were a couple. She wanted to hook up with us.”

“What?! How could she think that?!”

“You misunderstood her question when she asked how long we had been together.”

Oh, she meant, like — how long we were dating?”

“Yes.”

We exchanged looks and burst into raucous laughter.

“You love Ceddy and I love men too much.”

“It wouldn’t be an experiment in lesbianism — it would be incest.”

“Exactly! You’re not some random girl from the club. We’re sisters!”

“Only an event like this would make us leave a club before last call.”

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Reciprocal

Propped up on elbows, we face each other.
Whispering in the dark, though no one else can hear.
You press my lips shut to interrupt my babbling.

    “Sam — I love you.”
    “Really?”
    “Yes, really. Why else would I say it?”
    “I love you, too.”

Cradling my face in your hands,
you kiss me soundly
and brush my tears aside.

    “Why didn’t you say something before?”
    “Timing mostly.”
    “I’m really glad you said it.”
    “Me too. I mean it.”

This night isn’t the evening of Valentine’s Day.
It’s the first time you affirm
everything you demonstrate daily.

Unexpected

July 24, 1991: Matawan, New Jersey

Kicking off my sneakers, I sat cross-legged beside my mother on the hospital bed.

“Sammi, this is your sister Sabrina. Your dad and I decided that we’ll call her Brie.”

“Can I hold her?”

“Just be careful.” Mom warned as Brie squirmed in her swaddle.

I cradled my newborn sister. “Hi Brie. I’m your big sister Sammi.”

My little sister wrinkled her nose.

“When you grow up, both of us can make Raf play Barbies. When you come home, I’ll read you my favorite books — I know you’ll love them, too. And we can share clothes once you’re not a baby!”

Brie promptly fell asleep.

Summer 2004: Birmingham, Alabama

“Brie, no running!”

I sprinted after my thirteen-year-old sister through the Wal-Mart toys section. Brie grabbed a large bouncy ball and galloped toward the cashiers. I caught up to and linked arms with her. Once in line, two white elderly women clucked disapprovingly behind them.

The taller woman shook her head. “It’s a shame when foreigners let their kids run wild.”

Her shorter companion nodded. “Though, it’s not their fault. Where are their parents?”

I rolled her eyes and turned to face the women. “Being brown and speaking English aren’t mutually exclusive.”

The women gasped, poised to insincerely apologize.

“Our parents are at home. My autistic sister wanted to go to Wal-Mart to get a new ball. She has the mental capacity of a toddler. Don’t even think about saying bless her heart, because people like you are full of shit.”

Brie giggled and tugged my arm. “Sammi — play ball?”

“Yes, Brie. We’ll play when we get home.”

Fall 2012: Alpharetta, Georgia

“Sammi’s room!” Brie hugged me and gestured upstairs.

Once in my room, I asked, “Brie, are you okay?”

Brie’s brow furrowed. “Yeah — Sammi’s room is fun. No Mommy.”

I stifled a laugh as we sat beside each other on my bed. Brie turned on her iPad and pulled up a photo of her with a black boy a couple of years younger.

“Who is that, Brie?”

“Dylan from Speech. He is nice and cute.”

As my little sister showed me more photos of her crush, I couldn’t help but laugh. In spite of our differences, we’re sisters. We don’t just share the same DNA; we also share the same taste in men.

Dusk

Blankets crumpled at the foot of our bed,
overhead fan whirring,
almost tuning out the fighting drunks at El Bar.
Reflexively,
you reach for me and I curl into you.
The only instance when
I never complain
of being enveloped in heat.
It’s impossible to sleep
without your breath on my neck
and the safety of your arms.