posted May 6, 2008

When my sister’s friends call her, they worry, by the sound of her voice, that they’ve woken her from a deep sleep. Really, she has been awake for hours, teaching the cat a name it will never answer to or singing lustily as she chops a bulb of garlic. When my sister cuts her hair short, her co-workers compliment the fetching shade that they’re sure she's just dyed it; and when she sports a new dress, they exclaim, “You wear that all the time! That must be your favorite!” Last month, on the street, my sister was arrested for slapping a small child. When I came to pay her bail, she explained that the mother had misunderstood. She’'d caressed the child’s face, delicately, with only the tips of her fingers. When my sister tells me about her nightmares, I whisper, “What a lovely dreamer you are.” And when she rages, dragging her nails through the skin of her cheeks and slamming her shoulder into walls, I sometimes mistake it for laughter. “What's so funny?” I shout joyously as the tears drip off her chin and slip beneath the collar of her favorite dress.

Katie Williams earned her MFA at the University of Texas in Austin under a Michener Fellowship. Her short stories have appeared in such journals as Subtropics, Prairie Schooner, and The Indiana Review.  She teaches writing at Academy of Art University in San Francisco.