In class the first week of freshman year in college, we had to turn to the person next to us and describe our family.
I froze.

My older sister moved states away, and I had not prepared a lie to explain the reason.

I said the first thing that came to mind: she was living life.

Everyone had to report to the class what they had learned.
I listened to my lie roll off the tongue of the boy who was my partner in this exercise.
I did my best to avoid him for the next four years.

The first time I wrote the words, it was in the spring of that year: My sister is an addict.

I cried looking at them.

I cried when my professor read them and widened his eyes just a bit.

I cried almost every time we met to discuss my paper, where I took those words and tried to make meaning of them.

It got to the point where I could avoid telling people.
People began to look surprised when I mention I have sisters.

As often as I feel torn in the middle of fights between my older and
younger sister, I feel torn between telling people the truth and not saying anything at all.

I wonder how simple it must be for my older sister to describe us.
I used to identify myself as the middle child.
I stopped because I started avoiding talking about my older sister.
I’ve started again since I’ve begun writing the words again and again...
My sister is an addict.

Math makes it easy to describe my family.
I am one of three sisters.
My older sister and I lived together for seven years.
After my younger sister was born, the three of us lived together for
twelve years.
My younger sister and I lived together for five years, and still counting.
When talking about siblings, each of us will say we have two.

My sisters and I only have a few things in common.
We take longer getting ready than planned, every time.
We love to have pretzels with a bowl of ice cream.
We are stubborn.
If we are really laughing or when we’re laughing because we are surprised or when it’s the laugh that makes us curl over with tears, at a certain point, our laughs will sync and for those seconds, we will be in harmony.
Then we take a deep breath and become separate once more.

Sometimes, when I say the words or write them, I still cry.
Not from fear, or sadness, or regret.
It’s from knowing I’ve the strength to be able to say them at all.


ALEXA JOSAPHOUITCH is a graduating senior from the accelerated BA English/ MA in Publishing program. Try as she might, she has yet to leave South Philly. Luckily, she only has an accent when she gets angry. She is learning about her writing by acknowledging herself, and she’s learning about herself through her writing.