I skipped home, glad that it was the weekend. Stopping at the mitaani, mtaa corner, I rang the kengele at the baby-sitter's house. The little old lady opened the door and smiled widely at me. "Oh hello dearie! Your sister is such a precious little thing! wewe know, she was asking for wewe all day," she gushed.
My face fell. I felt so guilty for leaving her alone in a day-care all siku long. If I didn't have to go to school, I would spend my every waking moment with little Natalie. "Thank wewe so much, Mrs. Jackson. Where is she now?"
"Oh, she's inside, playing with little Ashton. They're the two most adorable babies I have ever seen!" She invited me inside and bustled over to the kitchen, no doubt preparing a little doggy bag full of cookies.
I stepped into the familiar living room, lace and ribbons covering almost every surface and I saw the juu of Natalie’s head bobbing behind the couch. I smiled when I heard a quiet, high-pitched giggle and I joined her in her little game of hide-and-seek.
"Come out; come out, wherever wewe are!" I called quietly
Natalie jumped out from behind the kitanda and I tried my best to seem shocked.
"Oh my goodness, Natalie! wewe gave me such a fright!" I said, gasping with a hand placed over my heart. "Come here and give your sister a hug!"
She tinkled laugh and ran toward me, smacking a big wet kiss on my cheek.
"We gonna go to Mah-tin today?" she asked me. She loved Martin almost as much as I did and looked up to him with admiration only a two-year-old could manage. Martin and I pretended we were her parents most of the time and Natalie delighted in our game as we pampered her with kisses and sweets.
"Yes we are! And wewe can choose our movie again." I spoke into her soft brown curls.
I picked her up and slung her playfully over my shoulder as Mrs. Jackson waddled back out of the kitchen, carrying a brown paper bag.
"Thank wewe Mrs. Jackson. See wewe on Monday!" I told her as she handed me the paper bag.
"Yes, yes. See wewe on Monday Natalie! Give old Mrs. Jackson a kiss." Natalie obliged happily and smacked another wet one on Mrs. Jackson's face.
I returned nyumbani to the usual putrid smell of stale vomit that had permanently sunk into the fibres of the carpet and unpacked my bag before going upstairs to check on my father. He was lying in a mess of blankets on his bed, the shadow of stubble on his cheeks. He was asleep so I quietly closed the door behind me as I left the room.
Opening the refrigerator, I grabbed a tub of applesauce and a spoon for Natalie. I also put a few kuki, vidakuzi on a plate along with a glass of milk. Balancing these on my arm, I carefully made my way to the jikoni meza, jedwali where Natalie was already sitting expectantly. She dug in and I started to do my homework. Better get it done now so that I don't have to worry about it during the weekend.
As I struggled through a series of maths problems, I felt a shuddering cramp in my abdomen. Oh great. Getting your period on a weekend was the worst form of luck I could think of right now. I sighed and winced my way to the bathroom, popping a painkiller into my mouth as I went.
The first time I had gotten my period; my mother was off doing one of her crazy stunts under the influence of her schizophrenia. I literally thought I was dying until I told Martin about it, who promptly turned bright red in the face and told me I'd better talk to his mother about that. Martin's mother was a lovely woman. She was short and plump with frizzy chokoleti hair and big, dark eyes. My favourite part about her is that she spoke her mind all the time. wewe could never feel awkward around her because of this, and she always had something delicious cooking in the kitchen. Friday nights were the best nights of the whole week because I actually felt wanted. Apart from Natalie, I had no real family connections with anyone.
Finishing my history homework with a flourish of my pen, I got up heavily and Collected Natalie from where she had fallen asleep on the couch. She stirred and moaned in her sleep but she slept on in my arms. I smiled tenderly down at her smooth little face. "Natalie," I alisema quietly, "wakey-wakey. We're going to Martin's, remember?"
She smiled groggily back up at me and wrapped her arms around my neck. I pulled on my long brown trench kanzu, koti and wrapped it around us both to protect us from the chilly night air as I stepped onto the streets of Seattle.