It was the voices that woke me that night. I imagine they woke me the way a middle-of-the-night summer thunderstorm wakes. The voices—my parents’ and my sister’s—must have been spoken like light rain at first, barely audible to my six-year-old mind still sound asleep and full of dreams. The voices with words like light rain must’ve grown into words that bump against each other like hail pelting a rooftop and threatening to break through. But it was the words like thunder—angry and booming from our Tokyo expat kitchen—that jolted me fully awake and wide-eyed in my bed.
I slid slowly against the wall of our hallway towards the voices, as if my pace could slow down everything that was about to take place. Finally, at the doorway to our kitchen, I stood peering at my family with my little heart thumping; my senses tried to gather up all of the words and sort them like a puzzle with all the wrong pieces.
“I’m going to go back to Indiana to live with my dad!” my sister lashed out.
Thirty-one years later, it’s the only clear sentence I remember in the aftermath of all the words strewn about that night.
Up until that point, I didn’t know my sister and I had different dads. Up until that point, I didn’t know it was possible to have or be a half-sibling. I knew I was 100% American, because I lived in Japan and the first sentence I learned in Japanese was, “I am American.” And yet, I didn’t know where Indiana was.
Up until that point, I didn’t know a sister could leave or families could have layers of stories strong enough to make life-altering storms…
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