ON SECOND THOUGHT features two half-sisters—Kate, ten years older, the cool, sophisticated sister, a photographer by trade, someone who wore ironic t-shirts before ironic t-shirts were quite so trendy; and Ainsley, the sweet, younger sister who tries so hard to be liked by everyone. The age gap and different moms make an awkward dynamic between the women, especially when Kate moves to Cambry-on-Hudson, the little city north of Manhattan where Ainsley’s been living for years.
I think I love to write about sisters because I have one—Hilary, or Hilly, as I call her. She’s younger than I am by 15 months and was a grade behind me in school. Even though she’s practically the same age as I am, I feel very protective of her, sometimes to a fault—she doesn’t really need as much advice as I might offer. If someone treats her poorly, I feel the Mafiosa side of me rising to the forefront— “Gimme her address and be outta town on the fifth,” kind of thing.
Unlike Kate and Ainsley, my sister and I were constant friends as kids. Blessed by not being raised in the computer age, we played such games as Gorillas Go RV-ing, in which we were gorilla friends who took our families on vacations. You could tell we were gorillas because we couldn’t touch the floor of the RV. Otherwise, we gorilla moms talked on the phone a lot and complained about our furry little children.
Another game my sister and I played was…well, there wasn’t really a name for it. We have a little pond at the back of our woods, and we’d go there and take sticks and float them, pretending they were boats. This was cause for much hilarity among a certain friend of mine who shall remain nameless (Heidi), who still calls me Stick Girl. But those days were idyllic, Hilly and me, sometimes our friend Beth, mucking around at the little pond, watching Guppy and Eel drift around while a red-tail hawks flew overhead and the chipmunks forgot to be afraid of us.
When Hilary was really small, she’d get tired on car trips, and because we didn’t believe in seatbelts back then, she’d lie with her head in my lap, and I’d stroke her bangs until she fell asleep. I still remember that sweet, intense love—she was my little sister, even if by just over a year, and I had to take care of her.
Kate and Ainsley find their way to a closer relationship over the summer where everything changed. I like to think they’re as close as Hilary and I are now.
Love you, sissy!