Hermanita, I will always sit next to you. I will always follow you with my hands outstretched, knowing that our fingers are threaded through with strings and knotted together in the middle. We always follow each other, hands flying up over things, minding the delicate thread and never tearing it. Our strings catch little things in the air like strangers’ social cues and the damp remnants of a thunderstorm. We sit on old benches and pass food between us, making patterns of crescent moons with our teeth. We share elusive scraps of colored paper and fresh ticket stubs, sticking them into our journals and leaving the glue stick uncapped for one another.
When we board the bus to Mazamitla, we weave through the aisle and collapsed, shoulders pressing and knees bumping. I'll let you take the window. I always let you take the window, and I’m happy to sit there next to you and think about what it means to be an older sister. We sink into ourselves, split a pair of earbuds, and I teach you to braid with the strings coiled in our palms. French. Dutch. A braid with four pieces. Five. I’d teach you one with twelve if you asked.
When you fall asleep, I tuck my sweater between your neck and your shoulder. I gaze over your hair and out the window, wishing my slow blinks could capture the deep green in the hills, wishing my slow breaths could ease the pain of knowing you’ll never be this little again. And when the bus pulls into the station at Mazamitla, I’ll wake you. We’ll walk every inch of the plaza, leaving a part of ourselves in the lilting cobblestone and mid-July rain, and you’ll give me the window seat on the ride back home.