I Don’t Let It Bother Me by Jason Lucarelli

The night he told her he wished she would stop wearing her hair the way her sister wore her hair, she cried, and said, “But I wore my hair this way first.” He did not want to see her cry. He hated the way they—the sisters—cried.

The first night they went out he could feel other peoples’ eyes on them, eyes that said, “What’s he doing with someone so young?”

He was used to this.

He had been through all this with the other sister, who was older, only slightly.

A week or two weeks after he took the other sister out for the first time, they were kissing on her bed, and she took off her jeans so that he did not have to.

Soon after he took the younger sister out for the first time, she called to ask for his help with some yard work, and when he arrived, she was already raking leaves in the front yard.

He treated the raking like a race.

He treated the pile of leaves like a bed, and she came down on top of him.

“You’re not like your brother,” she said. “You don’t take things so seriously.”

“How do I take them?” he said.

“You just do.”

Another afternoon she wanted to know if he liked her better than he liked her sister.

“Wouldn’t I be with her right now if I did?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “Would you?”

Later that night she pinned him to the bed, and he slipped his fingers inside the waistband of her jeans, felt along the edge. He thought he could get himself to search a little deeper, but he could not find the courage, so he made excuses.

The night he told her about the way she wore her hair, they were kissing quite intensely, and he thought about how he compared to his brother as a kisser, and how she compared to her sister as a kisser.

He must have stopped kissing her so intensely because she wanted to know what was wrong.

He said sometimes he would be doing something with someone, and he would be reminded of a time when he had done something similar with someone else.

“I see your brother in you sometimes,” she said. “But I don’t let it bother me.”

A different night she said, “I feel like I’m stealing.”

She wanted to know who was pursuing who.

“I’m not sure I understand the question,” he said.

“A little courage is all,” she said. “That’s all I’m asking.”

Home, he looked at old pictures of her sister and thought about the overlapping features between the sisters. He thought the overlapping features might be getting in the way.

He did not see her for a week or two weeks.

Then he saw her in the lawn and garden section of the department store. He did not recognize her at first. Her hair seemed shorter or maybe she was wearing it in a way he had not seen before.

She said she was shopping for supplies to put her garden to bed.

“Something always needs getting done,” she said.

“Whatever you need,” he said.

In her backyard garden he helped her weed.

They took the bags of leaves they had raked weeks earlier, and spread the leaves out over the garden.

That evening they sat on her bed, and she came down on top of him. They started kissing intensely. He was nervous, but he did not make excuses, and she took off her jeans so that he did not have to.

He found the courage to search a little deeper, and everything felt familiar.

Jason Lucarelli is a recent graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Numéro Cinq, the Literarian, and NANO Fiction. He lives in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and blogs occasionally at loudsoundsaccumulated.com.