Baby Sister

05/09/23

Maddie didn’t do it.

No, don’t look at her. Look at me. I did it so you can look at me, Officer.

Why? You wanna know why?

You look surprised. Surprised I’m laughing, like you didn’t grow up right here in this same town with us. Like you didn’t know how ol’ Frank was. Like you didn’t know about how he hollered and carried on and how he was worse when it was just him and her? Like you didn’t see Maddie wearing big ol’ bug-eye sunglasses in the Save More, limping and wincing while she pushed the cart around.

And you wanna ask me why?

No, don’t look at her. Look at me.

You wanna know what happened?

I pulled up outside and heard him raging and knew what was going on. Once, she came over to our mamma’s house, tears leaking through two swollen slits. Her eyes so puffy, they were like two shiny plums and she hissed to touch a tissue to ‘em.

Today, I heard something sounded like a baseball bat smacking wet meat and then I heard little Frank Junior crying and screaming. I heard Maddie blubbering, weeping.

Well, I took the flower pot off the front stoop. The one with the aloe plant in it. And I came right on in through the front door and I smashed it over Frank’s head. The pot shattered. That’s what all those pieces are there, with the soil, and that poor, thirsty plant.

No, don’t you look at her. Maddie didn’t do this. I did.

You can talk to me if you wanna know why she’s the one covered in blood. That’s easy.

See, Frank turned around when I hit him with the pot. I guess he was dazed. Well, I grabbed a steak knife off the table. And, yes, Maddie’s prints’ll be on that knife same as mine because it was a family knife, wasn’t it? So don’t even bother asking her about that. Of course her prints are on there too.

But I did the stabbing. I did it.

Oh, I stabbed him a bunch of times. You count yet?

Eight? That’s a lot.

Yes, that is how many times I stabbed ol’ Frank. Eight. I wasn’t counting but I know it was a lot. I did it real fast. I was mad so I was going fast, you know how that is. Going too fast to count. Anyway he didn’t start bleeding too much till he fell over and that’s when Maddie got so bloody. She got down on her knees to see how bad off he was.

No, Officer. No, he was real bad off.

No, I know it’s not nice to laugh but how hale do you think a man can be when he’s been stabbed eight times with his very own steak knife?

No, don’t look at her.

Don’t look at Maddie.

You look at me and listen. You listen good.

Maddie is the first girl in my family to go to college. Maddie has a little boy about to start school next week. Maddie has two new job interviews lined up. Maddie’s got a future.

And, listen. Listen, here.

Maddie is my littlest baby sister.

She may be grown and she may have horrible-bad taste in husbands but she’s always gonna be my littlest baby sister and she has a future.

You understand?

Maddie is going to be okay.

Now. Now, you look at her.

Look at her, Officer. Got her whole life ahead of her now ol’ Frank is gone, don’t she? She’s gonna be alright.

Look at her.

Maddie didn’t do this.

I did.

~ fin ~

Archer Sullivan Author Photo

A ninth generation Appalachian, Archer Sullivan now lives in Los Angeles where she is a real life Beverly Hillbilly. Her fiction can be found in Ellery Queen Mystery MagazineTough, and Rock and a Hard Place Magazine.