"That's where I was born. Tucumcari."
"Where is that?"
"New Mexico. I lived in the desert for fifteen years. Fifteen years."
"Wow. I've always wanted to see the desert. Did you—"
"But then my sister died, so we moved away."
"...I'm sorry to hear that."
"Yeah. My sister died and we moved to Indiana. H-Her name was Trina, but I called her Ti. Big Ti. She was great. Ti was always laughing and smiling. She had a big smile like—like the Alice cat."
"The Cheshire Cat?"
"Yeah. Yeah. I like to think about her hair a lot."
"What about her hair?"
"It was yellow like flowers. Like the yellow flowers in the yard that are bad."
"Yeah. S-sometimes I would pick the flowers for Ti and she'd put them in her hair and she was an angel."
"That's a lovely memory."
"She would always play with me and be nice to me and she was always patient 'cuz-'cuz-'cuz sometimes people aren't patient with me and they call me stupid and they walk away 'cuz I talk slow. But Ti always said that what I had to say was worth hearing. A-a-and when the boys in my class—when the boys in my class would call me names, Ti would always walk home with me and bring all her pretty friends. She'd say, 'Look at those l-losers walking home alone. You've got all these hot girls to go home with.' AH HA HA. Ti's friends were nice too, but not the same."
"You loved your big sister."
"Yeah. I love Ti so much. I love her so much."
"Can I ask how she died?"
"They don't know, but I know. They don't know, but I know. Ti had a boyfriend. She had a boyfriend and his name was Brandon and they were always smooching and touching. Brandon was big and played football and sometimes he would get mad and be mean to me, but Ti would yell at him."
"What would Brandon do to you?"
"He was just angry sometimes. He would yell really loud and lose his temper. Ti always told him to 'Calm down or go home.' AH HA HA. Calm down or go home. Calm down or go home."
"Did he hit you?"
"No. No. Ti didn't like mean people. Brandon wasn't mean like that, but I didn't like how he yelled sometimes."
"Did Brandon hurt Ti?"
"No. He just got mad at her. When they came in the house he was screaming so loud my ears hurt. So-so-so when I heard him come in, I hid. I hid good."
"Where did you hide?"
"In the closet. I hid in the closet. I was picking a book to read with Ti before bed 'cuz she always read to me before bed, but all her books were in her bedroom, so I was there a-a-and he was yelling at Ti real loud. He was following her through the whole house and I heard them coming toward her room."
"What was he saying?"
"I DON'T CARE! NO BABY! NO BABY! NO BABY!"
"Your sister was pregnant?
"NO BABY! NO BABY! NO BABY!"
"He went away and Ti cried. She cried and cried and cried and cried and cried. Then-then-then she made the red come on her arms like she did when she was sad sometimes. She said, um, she said that it makes the inside hurt come out. Like it comes out. S-she made the red come and then I came out of the closet and she was sad 'cuz she didn't know I was there. I was hiding and she didn't know I was there and she said, 'It's going to be okay Shel. I need to be alone now, but I'll see you when everything's all better.' See 'cuz she used to call me Shel 'cuz my name's Sheldon, but she used to read me Shel Silverstein a-a-and I liked listening to her read a lot 'cuz she had a pretty voice. She had a pretty voice and she loved to read and laugh and she used to laugh with me all the time. All the time. And she told me the red was something she needed for her. It was for her. Then she asked me to go to my room and read the book I picked, so I did and when I came back out my mom and dad were crying and the police were there and there were lots of flashing lights and I was scared. I was scared and there was lots of noise and I don't like noise. No. I don't like noise. And my mom was crying and hugging me too tight and she kept saying that everything was going to be all right, but I knew that. I knew that already. See 'cuz they don't know, but I know. They don't know, but I know. Ti's coming back for me. She's coming back for me."
BIO: Carolyn Moretti graduated from Hofstra University in 2009 with a bachelor's degree in English. Her senior thesis was a manuscript of poetry entitled Aria. It was terrible by all accounts.