You were a middle child. Your older sister was a blazing star of a girl, intelligent, talented, beautiful, a Halley’s Comet of a woman. Your younger brother was autistic. In their own particular way, each of them demanded attention, and there is only so much of that that parents can give. You were smart. Good at what you did. You were pretty when young, plain as a teenager as your face and body filled out from an undiagnosed eating disorder. You believed you were alone. You always wanted to be more than your sister but also less, less because you loved her so much that you wanted nobody, not even you, to outshine her; less because you knew that nothing could ever outshine her.

You didn’t know her, really.

These last few months you have got to know her, a little, become closer than you ever were, perhaps. As little girls you were best friends. Later, in the dark years which you are only just beginning to emerge from, you were estranged; you were strangers. Had you passed each other in the street, you would not have recognised each other. There were times when you thought you didn’t love her. You were wrong. Gradually, she has crept back into your heart and ripped away the veneer of estrangement that had lately grown there: and then, in one blazing night of drugs and drink and dance, you grasped each other by the upper arms and said I love you, I love you. And then you know what it was to be a sister. You her only sister, and she yours. Permanent, unshakeable, more so than mere friends or lovers could ever hope to be.

Curiously, the closer you have grown, like two old trees intertwining their trunks and roots, the more you have come to see the knots and flaws in her bark. You always knew she was imperfect, but never the full extent of the rot. It goes deep. Too deep for comfort. She is cruel—not to you, not directly, but nevertheless the cruelty is there, in the way she turns up her large Egyptian nose and the way she fills silences with her almond-like eyes. With her boyfriend she is a bully, an out-and-out Machiavelli. When they split up and she leaves for Scotland, you and he become good friends. More like brother and sister than friend and friend. You suspect he wants more, but know that if you ever dared cross that line, you would always feel like a newer, cheaper, supermarket-own-brand of your sister. Which is not to say that you want to cross that line. He is better as a brother. Your sister always did attract wonderful people.

Your sister—what more can I say? She is an Ozymandias among women, a single mother who left school at 15 but, nonetheless, has made it to university. A natural and exotic beauty. When she dances, she dances with her eyes closed and her body moving like a pillar of golden syrup.

What more can I say? She is the one person you would die for, give up anything for. She is your sister. She is yours.