The one that got away

We were enjoying each other's smiles, each other's laughter. Across from me was my father, sitting strongly. The way he sits was always coinciding with the way he was thinking. Campbell, my younger sister was next to me. We always sat abnormally close. Having grown up together in the way we did, a natural closeness always existed in our relations. On this particular day, we had pursued our existing starvation to a restaurant nearby. We were hungry enough to where distance mattered. We chose somewhere called Texas Roadhouse. He shared his love of this place with us. He always chose a booth, a great way to sit comfortably together. In some way, everything he said always felt justifiable.

The sun was beaming, outdoor air was clean, clouds were light and fluffy. As we had ordered our meal and were waiting for our food to arrive, we shared laughs and insightful conversation, unstoppable in having a good time together. I was 13 at the time and my sister was 10. Our food had arrived at this point, Campbell had ordered what seemed to be an appetizing roasted chicken melt. It was typical for any sandwich to come alongside a juicy pickle. My dad and I exchanged pleasant looks as we all were digging in for a satisfying first bite. There was no question I was also about to enjoy the perfectly pieced together BLT in front of me. In the middle of eating, I noticed I had already eaten my pickle. Campbell had yet to find satisfaction in her pickle. Not engaging in a second thought, I reached over to grab it. That pickle was meant for me. As I grabbed the pickle, mouth-watering, in comparison to the heightened moment you realize you are on a roller coaster in the air about to plummet however many feet, I experienced a rushed adrenaline feeling.

As I slowly put the pickle closer to my mouth, my lips became wet. My eyes became enlarged like the moment you realize you have caught a stuffed plush toy with your 75 cents out of a claw machine. I took one large bite, “Crunch”. I heard the pickle yell in that fast moment between my teeth biting and the pickle crumbling. In that same moment, I locked eyes with my father across the table. He glanced over at Campbell as she was just finishing chewing a bite. She looks at me, with a sorrowful look on her face. As if I had just taken her world and shook it with my bare hands. I realized she had witnessed me taking her pickle. I didn’t feel one bit of regret. That pickle had engulfed my mouth with contentment.

I quickly showed her an innocent smile composing of only love. She shook her head at me and looked at my father for him to have a reaction. Watching the two of them exchange looks, I immediately came to the conclusion that our relationship would never be the same. My dad glanced back at me, and for short of a minute, his eyes filled with frustration. It was much more than just anger in his eyes, he was disappointed. One feeling between parent and child that I was deathly afraid of. He was disappointed and was about to change the way I perceived life. I slowly but surely took the rest of the pickle out of my mouth. Still hoping to be able to eat the rest. My brain had constructed my environment in such a case of “what's yours is mine too.” A feeling of regret washed over my entire body. My dad looks at me and says: “ You’re grounded Savannah. For two weeks. We do not take things that aren’t ours without asking first.” My brain had gone through a half-broken washing machine. What went in, wasn’t what came out. My sister, only feeling sadness says to me “I would have given it to you if you asked”. My dad said: “Hug your sister and make sure you always ask before taking something that you know isn’t yours”. As I reached over to hug my sister, her loving smile consumed my heart. We shared a hug and love was conspiring in the space between us.

After having moved on, I noticed how easy it was to be kind. That pickle was given to her and it wasn’t fair for me to take it. The feeling divided between my heart and head formed a new perspective. I spent the two weeks in my room, without much to do other than engaging in conversations with myself. My sister would come to my room, our laughs being shared, our hugs tight and warm. The moment at the restaurant and the two weeks spent after, I will never forget. My sister being nothing but kind and loving and my father being straightforward and easy to understand. That pickle got away from me but the love I have for my sister and father never did. I thank that half-eaten pickle for teaching me one of life’s lessons. When you want something, just ask. Taking something that isn’t yours only leaves you with a dry mouth and feelings of regret.

I am an undergraduate student with a strong passion for exercising the creative intelligence of the human mind. This submission will be a first time publication for me. I believe my work upholds the richness of diverse thinking you are looking for.

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