The Night of the Call pt. 2: The Little Girl's Shield by Rachel Gonzalez
My father came back a week or two later. He looked devastated and heart broken. My little sister's birthday came and went. She turned 5. As a present, our father sent us to the Dominican Republic. When we arrived, we visited an old place that had stones with pictures inside of them. As she and I were looking around we saw our mother’s beautiful face in one of the stones. My little sister ran up to hug the picture. She started asking around to see if anyone had seen our mother, because our father told her she was on vacation and she really wanted to see her. I knew something my little sister didn’t. I knew because I’m older. She doesn’t know that our beautiful mother had passed away a year ago on that cold Christmas Eve night. I didn’t want to tell her because she would be devastated and heart broken just like my father and I. How could I, her older brother and protector, tell her that our mother is gone?
It was a cold Christmas Eve. The year was 2006, and my little sister wasn't that little anymore. She’s 6 now. She still didn’t know why people cried to pictures of our mother. I thought it was time I told her, because I’m suppose to protect her. I just needed to find the perfect time. My mom's side of the family always went to my older sister's house every Christmas Eve. We all got together as a family, listened to music, told old stories, and we all wore red just like every year for 2 years now. I Don’t think we wore red because it was Christmas. We wore red because it was my mom's favorite color.
As my little sister and I got ready, I looked at her and she was smiling because she came across a picture of our mother in the kitchen. I thought to tell her. "This is the time, this is when I tell her", I'd whisper to myself. But, when I opened my mouth the words couldn't come out. “Are you ready?” I asked. In her small, innocent, almost cheesy voice, she responded “Yea, don’t you see?” I didn’t know why I couldn’t tell her right there. I guess it wasn’t time yet, so I looked at her and said, “Let’s walk to Steph’s before it gets too late.” She looked at me and smiled her bright smile with her missing tooth as she got her jacket. As we’re walking to my sister's house I said to her “Let’s have a race!” I knew she loved a competition, but she looked at me and said “I can’t! I have heels on what’s wrong with you?!” I laughed--for the first time in so long.
We got to my sister's house, took off our jackets and headed up the stairs. We heard music playing and saw our sister looking at the computer screen which had a picture of our mother. I heard sniffling. My little sister blurted out a loud and sudden “Hi sis", letting my sister know we were in the room. She wiped her tears hoping that our little sister didn’t see her. My sister Steph gave us a hug and sent us downstairs to watch TV right before I heard my little sister ask why she was looking at a picture of Mami and crying as if she were never coming back. That’s when I had to be her protector. I had to shield her from the pain of hoping. I looked down at her unsuspecting eyes as I held my tears back and said, “Mami died 2 years ago today when you were 4, but you can’t tell anyone I told you.” That's all I could say. All I could do after telling her was walk down the stairs and not look back. Even though I was her protector, I had just shattered her world and nobody was there to help me pick up the pieces. There was nobody there to protect me.