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If Today Was the Day They Took Away Our Parents, It Would Be My Sister’s Responsibility to Keep Her and Our Brother Alive

Before I was born—when my sister was six—she would walk home and pick up my brother, who was two, and they would sit in an empty house and lock the doors and draw the curtains and wait for my parents to come home. Every day on my sister’s walk home, she would think about contingency plans. If today was the day they took away her parents, what would she do for dinner tomorrow? Where was the spare cash? Could she leave her brother alone to go to the grocery store to buy or steal food? Who would she call—which family, what order? Because it would be on my sister for her and my brother to both survive.

It would be my sister’s responsibility to keep her and our brother alive.

I think of all the children, who are too young to understand what has happened but do. Children who not only understand, but are thinking of and acting out their own contingency plans.

Everything aches.