If it was possible, I would have screamed.
The water rushing into my mouth, however, made it impossible to do anything of the sort. I was already holding a bit of water in my cheeks from my weak attempt to chug, which made it take even less time for me to reach capacity when Kate squeezed the bottle. Not only did I simultaneously sputter and spit a little bit out when I couldn’t swallow at the rate the ice water passed my lips, but my brat of a sister also pulled the bottle away to ‘help’ with the problem that she created in the first place. And, since the bottle was still tilted downwards, all the remaining water landed squarely on my chest.
“Mmm!” It’s the only sound I could make at the moment. Wincing not only at the cold, but also the fact that I could feel the water seeping into my bra, I instinctively slapped the bottle away. It was way too late for that, as the plastic was more or less empty when it fell from Kate’s hand and hit the floor.
Aside from half-heartedly stifling a giggle, Kate didn’t even try to appear sorry. She dramatically pouted for a second, before the expression morphed into a tiny smirk. “Annie, you’re so clumsy!” she said. Picking up her phone and snapping a quick picture, she added, “And accident-prone.”
The double meaning would obviously be lost on our parents if they happened to overhear, but I immediately understood. Simultaneously glaring and blushing, I had to force down the anger that was welling up. If I went off on her, I’d once again look like the bad guy. The older sister, berating the younger one, when it would be so easy for her to feign innocence and act like I must have spilled because of a bump in the road or something.
“Delete that.” I said. Settling on something that was perhaps a little more under my control, I urged her to get rid of the embarrassing photo. It was way less about the fact that my top was now wet, and more about the freckles and pigtails that added layers of immaturity to my look.
We were old enough that Kate wouldn’t just post it on social media for the fun of it, but letting her hold onto it would still be a bad idea. I could already envision her showing friends when I was one room over, or even just showing it to me in a ‘Remember this?’ kind of way. All the young features I normally tried to hide, easily on display.
“Hmm . . .” Kate mused. It didn’t take long for her little smile to return, “Okay. But only if you use your pull-ups.”
Of all the-
She was unbelievable. I was nineteen years old. How could she even suggest something like that with a straight face? It was ridiculous.
And yet, she still seemed determined to take things further than just yellow Gatorade. “What? They’re already wet. I’ll delete the photo AND you can have your phone back.”
“You’re giving my phone back the second I finish that second bottle.”
“But, Annie, you didn’t technically finish the first one. Soooo, that means you still have two to go.”
It took another conscious effort to not raise my voice. “No. That was your fault, Kate. Not mine. You have to give it back.”
“I don’t have to do anything,” Kate said with a tiny eye roll, “I don’t take orders from little sisters in wet pull-ups. As far as I’m concerned, you lost your phone privileges, and you just made a total mess. Now, I can help out with a thing or two if you ask nicely, but you’re on your own if you keep acting like a brat.”
After a nervous glance towards the front to make sure no one overheard Kate mentioning the underwear I definitely shouldn’t have her to convince me into, I got back into things.
Arguing with Kate never went well. She never fought fair, and it was always impossible to win against a girl who never seemed to take the conversation seriously to begin with. Since I was starting from a place of weakness, and wanting something from her, there was no easy way to convince her to do anything; not even as her older sister.
She had my phone and an embarrassing picture of me. I had pull-ups and wet clothes. No matter how much we circled around, Kate more or less was saying the same thing. By the end of it, she had even added a condition that wasn’t even part of the conversation to begin with. I had two choices–use my pull-ups, or chug two more water bottles and take off my bra as well. According to her, it was important to let my undergarment dry instead of keeping it against my skin for the rest of the drive after spilling water all over my chest.
My duffel bag was too buried in the trunk for me to reach back and grab myself a change of clothes and, despite my discomfort, I couldn’t bring myself to ask our parents to pull over again. It had barely been thirty minutes since the last rest stop, and my sister and I already took long enough the first time around. There were so many lesser evils, it was difficult to figure out what the best move was.
And, of course, there was one other little detail–
I stuffed my bras.
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