by Sydney Lane
When I was a little girl, my big sister loved to read. She always had a book in her hands, and I just wanted to play outside. We lived on a farm with rolling fields and beautiful horses. The trees were great for climbing, and the lake was perfect for afternoon swimming. At dusk, we caught fireflies, and after dark, the neighborhood kids crowded around a campfire and told ghost stories. I was enchanted by one particular boy who never wore a shirt and told the best stories. With all of that going on, I just couldn’t understand why anyone would want to lay in bed all day with their nose stuck in a book.
The summer I turned thirteen, all of that changed. My sister checked a book out from the library called Walk Through Cold Fire by Cin Forshay Lunsford. By this time, my sister was seventeen and we were allowed to stay home alone. Playing hide-and-seek and catching fireflies wasn’t as fun as it used to be, and the boy who told good ghost stories had a girlfriend. I was listless, searching everyday for something to keep me occupied. When my sister recommended that book to me… she forever changed my world.
First, the book! That book was like a modern day Beautiful Disaster. Forbidden teen romance, hot guys in a gang, and poignant revelations… what more could you ask for? Interestingly, this author never wrote another book under that name, and Walk Through Cold Fire became a piece of cult fiction. Years later, I would search and search for a hardback copy and purchase it at unmentionable price.
But what really changed that summer was my relationship with my sister. She was four years older than me, and we had very little in common. She had long since outgrown Barbies and tag, and I wasn’t yet able to do the things she was allowed to do. We never liked the same things, and we had differing opinions on every subject known to man. But that summer, we found a common ground, a place where we met in the middle and shared these beautiful stories that I never knew existed. We often lay in the same hammock, reading the days away under the hot summer skies. It was a whole new world, and we were in it together.
Even as we both grew up and moved away, we shared books, trading them back and forth. I remember picking up and dropping off boxes of books at each other’s houses. There were many late night phone calls when we couldn’t wait until the next day to discuss our latest reads, and we had to talk quietly so as not to wake our roommates. Lots of laughter and lots of tears were shed as we bonded over the miles that separated us.
When my sister was thirty-six years old, she took her own life. As you can imagine, it was devastating. It was so completely heartbreaking that no words exist to describe it. I was angry and hurt and broken. No matter the sentiments everyone offered, I felt in my heart that they could never really understand. Often, my only solace was a good book, a beautiful story that could take me away from the reality that was now mine.
To this day, when I read a really awesome book, I want to call my sister. I think to myself, “She would’ve really loved this one.” And as the rest of the world lies sleeping, I sit in the dark and share those quiet moments with my sister.
Books, to me, are not a luxury. They aren’t a hobby. They are words someone put on a piece of paper that sometimes reach right into your chest and make you live that moment. They briefly take me to another time and place, one where I lie in a hammock, drinking Dr. Pepper and eating Doritos, beside my sister. I can feel her leg brush against mine and hear her voice… and the breeze blows while we read the day away.
Sydney Lane lives in Nashville, TN with her husband and children. Growing up in Smalltown, USA, Sydney dreamed of being a writer. After spending an outrageous amount of money to go to college, Sydney finally decided to follow her heart. With her babies in bed and husband neglected, she worked by the light of her laptop and wrote Choices. Sydney is very active in charity work for anti-bullying and depression awareness groups.