It was an unusually warm Saturday morning for it to be February, but I was still excited to take the bus ride to my sister's house to see my nephew Carter. He was only two weeks old, but I had plans of spoiling him as much as I could possibly get away with. My sister Cassandra was a new mother and she was nervous about every little thing concerning the baby, so I thought I'd lend a hand and do whatever I could to help her out. Our mother had yet to see her grandson because she was still angry about my sister getting pregnant so soon after graduating from high school. I thought that my mom's anger would subside once Carter was born, but she was adamant about not supporting my sister in anyway since she had no immediate plans of attending college. The fact that Carter's father never kept steady employment only added fuel to the already volatile relationship my mom and sister had. My mom also suspected that Cassandra was being physically abused, but she had no solid proof of her suspicions. I knew though. I knew a lot of things about my sister and her boyfriend Frankie that I never spoke to my mom about.
After I got off of the bus, I walked up the steep hill to get to my sister's house. I walked passed some kids playing hopscotch and jumping rope on the side walk. I smiled because I was brought back to pleasant memories of me and my sister playing kick ball until the sun set and playing freeze tag until the street lights came on. We would be sweaty and sticky from playing outside all day during the summer breaks from school. Our bellies ached from all of the soda, chips and koolaid freeze cups we consumed from the neighborhood candy lady. Though my sister and I were still pretty close, watching those kids play took me back to a place and time when we were inseparable. Back to a place and time when my sister was my protector and my best friend.
"I don't care Frankie! Just leave!" I jumped as the front door to my sister's house swung open and Frankie stormed passed me spewing obscenities. I walked inside and saw Cassandra sitting in the middle of the living room floor crying. I asked her what was wrong and why was she screaming at Frankie. She jumped up and wiped her face with her hands. "Nothing, I'm alright" I knew she was lying but I didn't push it because she was only going to continue to lie and plus, I was more concerned about my nephew Carter. I walked down the hall to his room to see if he was asleep in his crib. I didn't know if he was crying from being startled by the commotion that had just taken place right before I had arrived. I leaned over his crib and watched him as he slept. He was perfect and adorable. I touched his jet black straight hair and I softly touched his ear. I leaned in closer and saw that he had his mother's cleft chin and her thin nose. I wanted to wake him up so I could hold him but I resisted the temptation and quietly left his room. I went back to the living room to see if my sister had stopped crying. She was sitting on the sofa folding clothes from a laundry basket. Her eyes were puffy and red. It was obvious she and Frankie had been arguing again, but I wasn't going to press the issue because I knew she had grown tired of talking about the same old thing and going through the motions with Frankie when deep down she knew he was not going to change.
Two hours had passed and my sister was a tad bit more upbeat. She was smiling and laughing from the stories I was telling her about what was happening at school. She was only 20, so she was familiar with the students and the teachers that I spoke about. She'd went and checked on Carter before making us a quick lunch to eat while we continued reminiscing about fun times at school and our old neighborhood. I was in my senior year and I was more than excited about graduating and going off to college in June. I wanted to ask Cassandra when did she plan on getting back in school and when was she going to make things right with our mom, but I didn't want to spoil the moment because I had not seen my sister genuinely smile in months. Her pregnancy was a difficult one, coupled with the constant arguments she had with Frankie. For the moment I just wanted to enjoy our time together. I would eventually ease into what I really felt needed to be addressed. I would eventually get around to talking about the things I was keeping from our mom. I would eventually break my promise to my sister and tell her secrets.
It was 3:20 when I looked up at the clock in the kitchen. I was sitting at the dining room table holding Carter as my sister hung some decor on the walls. She stepped down off the step ladder and looked at her work. She plopped down on the living room sofa and took a breather before asking me to give her Carter so she could check his diaper. He smelled so good and he was so cute, I just wanted to keep holding him. I placed him in her arms and sat beside her. I heard the door knob turn and the front door opened. It was Frankie. He quietly came in and went straight to my sister's bedroom. I became nervous because I didn't know what was about to happen. "Baby, let me talk to you for a minute" Frankie said in a low voice as he stepped in the hallway. My sister got up, still holding Carter and walked to her room. They were quiet at first, but then Frankie was yelling and my sister became to yell, and it was soon a shouting match. Just as I was about to go to her room, Cassandra came out screaming "I'm not giving you no gottdamn money for you to smoke up!" I went to reach for Carter but my sister pulled away and went and sat back down on the sofa. She began to console and rock Carter because he was crying. I sat on the sofa feeling helpless.
Frankie came out of the bedroom as if nothing happened. He calmly walked over to where we were sitting and asked my sister once more was she going to give him the money. She defiantly said "NO!". Then without warning Frankie pulled out a gun and fired. I gasped and then I screamed. He had shot my sister point blank in the head. I snatched Carter and bolted for the door. I held him close to me and I started to run. I was running as fast as I could. As I was running, I heard another shot. I ran to a complete stranger house and began beating on their door. A middle aged woman opened the door and I ran in screaming that my sister had been shot. Carter was crying so loud. The woman took the baby from my arms and went to call the police. I was crying, screaming and jumping up and down. I looked down at my pink sweater and I saw blood. I dropped to my knees and holding my head in my hands still screaming. The woman whose house I had ran into came back in the doorway and tried to pull me from the floor while holding my nephew. She was trying to get me to calm down but I was beyond hysterical. My sister was dead. If only I had told our mom about Frankie's crack addiction. If only I had told our mom about how he had beaten Cassandra during her pregnancy. If only I had told her that Cassandra had began smoking weed and consuming pills just to cope with the verbal and physical abuse. I had even witnessed my sister snort cocaine and I said nothing. Maybe had I said something, our mom would have broken her silence and helped Cassandra get away from Frankie. Cassandra was drawn to Frankie because she felt he was the only one that loved her and she thought our mom didn't care about her. Now because I didn't tell our mom about what was going on, my one and only sister was dead!
I sat in the hospital emergency room numb. My mother had to be sedated when she was told about her daughter being murdered. My sister was alive when she arrived to the hospital, but the doctors could not save her. She died on the table. Frankie shot himself and was dead on the scene. The police no longer questioned me because I stopped talking. Family and friends who showed up at the hospital tried to comfort me, but I was inconsolable. All I kept repeating in my head over and over and over again was I should have said something....I should have told someone that could have saved her. She sworn me to secrecy and like a fool I held her secrets because she told me she would get out. She told me that she would leave Frankie. I was a fool for believing her. I was a damn fool for keeping her secrets that eventually killed her. Carter no longer had a mother. I thought that I had no more tears to shed, but all I could do was drop my head and cry.