My bare feet slap against the cold asphalt. The streets are lined with slowly melting snow, turned brown by the passing cars. Mom says we can't afford shoes anymore. I don't really know what a depression is, but the way my parents keep talking about it, it must be bad. Dad hasn't been to work in weeks and mom has been sewing a lot more clothes in our small living room lately. My stomach feels hollow, I can't remember the last time we had a full dinner.

I'm supposed to be picking up my younger sister from school, but the trip is almost unbearable. I rub my cold hands up and down my arms, trying to warm the uncovered pale skin. What I would give for a,wool coat, or even an extra shirt right now. The small school house comes into my vision in the distance and I immediately start to run. It feels like my ice cold skin will surely crack against the frozen road.

“Hey, Greta.” My younger sister is standing outside of the building, her blonde hair tied in long pigtails down her back. I stop in front of her and bend over. The frigid air burns as I pull gulping breaths into my lungs.
“Why were you running?” My sister asks with a smile.

“Just wanted to see how fast I could get here.” I look down at my sisters simple canvas shoes with a twinge of pain. I shouldn’t be jealous. My sister is five years younger than me and my mom already explained everything to me. Casey is too young to understand the depression. “You're the big sister, it's your job to take care of her.” I can almost hear my mothers soft voice in the howling wind.

“You ready?” I ask my sister. She has freckles splashed across her nose, and her two front teeth are missing. She reaches a small hand out to me and I wrap my hand around hers.

The walk home is much shorter, maybe because I'm listening to my sister talk about her day at school. She doesn't notice the sad faces looking at us as we walk down the street. My feet are numb now. I couldn't feel it if the passing cars ran them over.

“And then, I pushed that mean ole Jack right into the snow.” My sister finishes her story and looks at me with apprehension. Maybe she thinks I will be upset that she pushed a boy, but Jack is mean and he probably deserved it, so I return the smile.

“Good for you, Casey.”

Now Casey, looks even happier. She pulls my hand and begins to skip down the street. I wince in pain and follow her lead. It's all about putting on a show. If Casey sees me upset, she will be upset. It's my job to shield her from the bad things. Soon enough we are in front of our small house. The windows are dark, but a slow steady stream of smoke is coming from the chimney. My stomach growls as we walk into the house.

My mother is standing in the kitchen over a small pot on the stove. She looks at me and I can see the pain in her eyes. It's going to be another long night. She ladles a spoonful of clear broth into two bowls and sets them on the table. Casey sits at her bowl and immediately begins slurping the soup from the chipped ceramic. I slowly bring my spoon to my lips, watching Casey the whole time. Halfway through my soup, Casey looks at me. Her soup is gone, but she stares at my half eaten dinner with hunger in her eyes.

I sigh and pass the bowl to her, which she greedily scarfs down. I look at my mother, who stands at the stove with tears in her eyes. She mouths the words “thank you” and then turns her back to me.

Now dinner is over and I'm laying in bed. My sister is sleeping next to me, her warm body snuggled against my side. Her eyelids are closed and soft snores pass between her lips. My stomach growls, but I squeeze my eyes shut tight, and pray for sleep to come. Maybe this depression will end soon, being a big sister is hard.

The next morning I wake and shiver in bed a few moments while rubbing the sleep out of my eyes. I peel the covers away and press my bare feet into the cold wooden floor. Sitting next to the bed is a hand stitched pair of leather sneakers, just for me.


  1. Beautiful. Maybe I should appreciate my sister a little more today.

  2. This is so precious - and sad! Great story Hollie. ❤️



Monster Dear David, Why did you do this to me? You left me broken and incomplete and I'll never be the same. You took the one...