Half past nine at night and I dared to answer the phone. “Hello,” I said. “I’m surprised you picked up,” she said. “You never do.” I didn’t recognize her voice. “Ever wonder what you’re afraid of?” she asked. “I thought I’d call and tell you how I’m doing. You want to know? I’m not doing well, partly because I’m sick of being ignored by you. What kind of brother pretends his sisters don’t exist?” I have no sisters, but I didn’t interrupt. “Years have passed without a word from you. You don’t know if I’m sick or have been sick or if I’ve died. All you care about is yourself, your comfort and interests. You can’t reveal your hostility and sarcasm so you isolate to hide your true face and what’s inside you. You can’t let anyone in and can’t let yourself out. Do you imagine that if you don’t answer me what I’m saying won’t exist? What have you ever done to help anyone? You’ve done nothing to help anyone in our family, and you don’t have the respect or the nerve to address a single word I’m saying. Do you call anyone, write anyone a letter, wish anyone a happy birthday, ask how anyone is doing and mean it? If someone invited you over would you shrink from the invitation? You occupy your mind with superior observations and your internal smart mouth keeps people at bay. Why should you see yourself as better than anyone else? The presumption is pathetic. You’re a tiny person who wants to see others as smaller—” I hung up, resisting her words yet assessing how they applied to me. Why hadn’t I interrupted? Did she seem to be speaking from my conscience? Did I hesitate to claim she had a wrong number? The phone rang again. She called over and over, daring me to answer, and I imagined her anger growing each time she hit redial. I told myself I deserved it as the phone kept ringing.

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