The night before the last step in their training the sisters gather in the rec center. Melissa’s playing pinball while Tara sits in a nearby chair, her face stuck in a book of military strategy.
“Stupid ball.” Melissa tries to shake the machine to avoid losing her final ball but she doesn’t bump it hard enough. The machine starts to flash her final score. “I was so close to the high score.”
Looking up from her book, Tara smirks at her sister. “I don’t think the ball’s the problem.”
Sticking her tongue out, Melissa walks up and stands in the light Tara’s reading by. “If you think it’s so easy, why don’t you try?”
Tara laughs and returns to her book, ignoring the shadow blocking her light. “I don’t have time for pinball Melissa.” Turning the page, she gets a slight grin on her face. “Besides, if you could come close we both know I’d destroy that score.”
Melissa’s jaw drops and she grabs Tara’s hand, pulling her to her feet. “If you want to act big, you’re going to need to prove it. Get up.”
Fighting to free her hand, Tara laughs and sets her book down. “Alright, maybe one game. Then I need to get back to studying.”
Moving to the machine, Tara’s hands slowly find the flipper buttons. She tests them to make sure both are responsive. Melissa inserts a few quarters and they’re under way. The ball bounces back and forth and Tara manages to avoid losing it for several minutes. The score goes higher and the lights flash. Melissa’s constantly leaning in, her eyes wide. She tries to nudge the table at one point to avoid a scratch. Tara takes her eyes away just long enough to give her a stern look. “Nobody likes a back seat player. This is my game.”
Rolling her eyes, Melissa says, “Yes mom.”
The narrowing of Tara’s eyes is immediate. She’d likely chase her sister down and tackle her if it weren’t for the game.
Tara blows past her sister’s score and then the game’s high score in no time. She keeps going and before she runs out of balls she’s doubled the record. Melissa has a goofy grin as she watches. “The other soldiers are going to hate you. Nobody’s touching this score.”
Shaking her head, Tara walks back to her book. “They already do, so who really cares?”
“That’s not true.” Melissa walks up behind her sister and wraps her arms around her neck, lightly hugging her from behind. She rests her cheek on Tara’s shoulder. “You’re just kind of stand offish.”
Tara grabs Melissa’s hands, pulling herself free. “I’m not stand offish, I just don’t waste time making everyone around me comfortable.” She plops back into her seat, immediately pouring herself into her book.
Grabbing a chair to pull up next to her, Melissa sits backwards, resting her arms on the back. “I get that but maybe you could make a little more effort? People like you when they get to know you. They just need a chance to get that far.”
With her face fully back in her book, Tara ignores her. Melissa wants to push further but she knows where this is leading and doesn’t want a huge fight. Instead she walks up behind her sister and hugs her. “For what it’s worth, I love you no matter what.”
Reaching behind her, Tara pats her sister on the hand a few times. “I know. That’s all I really need.”