‘Sisters’ by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Sisters by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, 2015

The magic trick:

Showing how social constrictions can affect a sibling relationship

This week’s look at the Sabrina And Corina story collection is fun to do because the stories really flow well into each other, linked by theme and setting if not specific characters.

Yesterday’s SSMT feature, “Sabrina And Corina,” featured two cousins, close but different. Today’s story gives us two sisters with a similarly split relationship.

Tina has heeded her mother’s advice to use marriage – particularly seeking out a white man – as her best bet for securing improved status and comfort. Dolores, meanwhile, rejects that idea. Or at least strongly resents that her options may be that limited.

That’s one heck of a conflict, and one that not many writers are capable of outlining so clearly.

The way this sisterly conflict plays out – even turning violent – makes for a gripping story.

And that’s quite a trick on Fajardo-Anstine’s part.

The selection:

Tina and Doty had lived together for two years, since they left southern Colorado at sixteen and seventeen years old. Their mother had stayed in a town called Durango. She’d taken up with an older Anglo rancher named Weiss. In the beginning, he seemed a comfortable choice for their mother after her first husband drank himself to death. But Weiss began showing Tina and Doty attention neither wanted, hovering over their beds as they slept, placing his fat, callused palms across their cheeks as they dreamed. Though they pleaded with their mother to leave him, she was too broken inside. What did they expect, she had said. Weiss had a taste for pretty Indian and Spanish girls. As a parting gift, their mother gave the sisters twenty-seven dollars and some advice, “You girls get married sooner rather than later. You’re good-looking enough.”

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