STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES
READING JANE AUSTEN WITH MY YOUNGER SISTER
We put our books down and rifle through the game drawer. Sorry is missing the red and blue men, Monopoly is ridiculous. Let’s play marbles, my younger sister says. Inside the leather pouch is a stick of chalk probably fifty years old, yellow-white, and a lot of pearls, bluish-white. They skitter out of the bag like mice. My sister picks one up to shoot. Maybe we shouldn’t, I say, These are pearls, not marbles. What do you mean, she asks, positioning herself lower to the ground, on her belly, a sniper on the slope of a ditch. They’re pearls, I say. I grab some from the undrawn ring. You’re cheating, she says. What if they were Mom’s? I say, hoping she won’t shoot. These are marbles, she says, They’re glass, They weren’t Mom’s. I snatch the pearl she’s about to shoot with and smash it with Jane Austen’s anthology. There is a sound of breaking teeth. I lift the book slowly and both of us, on all fours, stare at the powdered white. It’s glittering because it was glass, my sister says. I say, it’s glittering because it was worth so much.