What You Don't Know | Teen Ink

What You Don't Know

February 18, 2019
By jl637 DIAMOND, Livingston, New Jersey
jl637 DIAMOND, Livingston, New Jersey
72 articles 0 photos 16 comments

April 24th, 2015

What you know:  My name is Amelia. Yours is Harold. We are twins. Today is our birthday, April 24th. We are turning 39.

What you don’t know:  How to sing the Happy Birthday Song when mom and dad come over. What blowing out the candles of your cake is. Why you’re supposed to blow out the candles of your cake. What a present is. Why you’re receiving a present. When mom and dad leave, you always say, bye mom, bye dad. See you next time. When they left today, you said, bye.


July 22nd, 2015.

What you know: My name is Amelia. Yours is Harold. We are siblings.

What I know: Today we went to Forest Grove Park. Our childhood park, filled with lost memories of swings and see-saws and freeze tag. I used to call you a monkey because you could hang upside-down from the monkey bars for hours on end. You’d laugh at me with your mischievous toothy grin, and I laughed, even though I felt bitter and nauseous from defeat and from hanging upside-down. When we were children, you said that Forest Grove Park was your favorite place ever in the entire universe. You whispered to me that you wanted to live there when you grew up. Joked that when you died, you’d be buried there.

What you don’t know: The name of the park we went to. What a robin is, or what a sparrow is. What a bird is. Why I’m scattering seeds and bread crumbs on  the ground where the birds are. What the monkey-bars are. You frowned and asked me why toddlers were hanging upside-down like that. Too dangerous, you mumbled.

What I know: A woman and her daughter strolled past us. A street vendor called out, ice cream! as they passed by. The daughter, no older than five, squealed and clapped her hands in delight as her mother handed the vendor a five dollar bill. I love you, the daughter said as she licked her mint-chocolate-chip cone. The mother smiled.

What you don’t know: what ‘I love you’ means. You rolled the word ‘love’ off your tongue and murmured it nine times. Love, you muttered. I smiled thinly and grabbed your hand. Sounds odd.


October 31st, 2015

What you think: My name is Amy. Your name is Hank.

What you know: We are related. Today is Halloween, your favorite holiday.

What you don’t know: What ‘trick-or-treat’ means, or why children are holding jack-o-lanterns and pillowcases and plastic bags. Why strange random children are at your house. Why they’re dressed as ghosts and pirates and princesses and wizards. Call the police… call animal control… call… you screeched hoarsely. Your hands trembled at the sight of a four-year-old ghoul, and I gently took the phone from your hand and sat you down on the sofa. It’s okay, everything’s okay, I whispered. I’m here for you.


January 16th, 2016

What you know: I am a woman. You are a man.

What you think: We know each other. You look so familiar, you said. Are you a friend from college?

What you don’t know: What the white fluff outside your window is. Why it’s so cold. What hot cocoa is. This is your favorite drink, I said. Your eyes narrowed. What’s a drink?

What you don’t know: It’s winter. Your favorite season. Why kids are outside when it’s so cold. What a snowman is. Why children are throwing balls of white fluff at each other. You used to love snowball fights, I whispered. Used to.


March 3rd, 2016

What you know: We are people.

What you don’t know: Who I am. Who you are. When I woke up this morning, your face peered into mine. Your eyes furrowed widely into dark holes. Who are you? You stuttered. You looked at your hands, at the blue veins pulsing through your skin. Who am I? You started to cry, and I rubbed your shoulder. You buried your face into the fold of my neck. What is this? You muttered as a tear fell from your cheek.

What I know: That afternoon, I found a four-leaf clover while gardening in your lawn. Make a wish, I said. What’s that? You asked. I thought for a moment. Anything you want it to be, I replied. I squeezed your hand. Your mouth tugged upwards into a half-hearted smile. Make a wish. You closed your eyes, and I did the same. My wish fluttered in the wind, and I rolled the four-leaf clover through my fingertips, as if by rubbing it my wish would come true. Your eyes were glassy, staring into the blue sky above. I wonder what you wished for.


April 24th, 2016

What you know:

What you don’t know: Today we are turning 40. You used to joke about turning 40, said that you wondered if you’d be alive to see it. Back then, 40 seemed so far away.

Are you… you looked down at a card. A...rnold?

I nodded. That’s me.

Two strangers with gray hair stopped by my house and asked me to give you this. You handed me a card, wrinkled and dusted with age. In it was the messy handwriting of a child. You’re my sister, and I’ll always love you, it said. Happy Birthday!

I looked up to meet your tired face. I’ll-always-love-you, you sounded out. What does that mean?

It means…I started, but before I could finish, you shrugged and left the room. I'm not sure what those words mean anymore.

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