From Chicken Soup for the Sister's Soul

The Importance of Conscience

When there’s a sibling there’s a quibbling.

Selma Saskin

I was faced with a decision. While delivering laundry into the appropriate bedrooms, I stumbled upon my thirteen-year-old sister’s diary, a modern-day Pandora’s box, suffused with temptation. What was I to do? I had always been jealous of my little sister. Her charming smile, endearing personality and many talents threatened my place as leading lady. I competed with her tacitly and grew to resent her natural abilities. I felt it necessary to shatter her shadow with achievements of my own. As a result, we seldom spoke. I sought opportunities to criticize her and relished surpassing her achievements. Her diary lay at my feet, and I didn’t think of the result of opening it. I considered not her privacy, the morality of my actions, nor her consequential pain. I merely savored the possibility of digging up enough dirt to soil my competitor’s spotless record. I reasoned my iniquity as sisterly duty. It was my responsibility to keep a check on her activities. It would be wrong of me not to.

I tentatively plucked the book from the floor and opened it, fanning through the pages, searching for my name, convinced that I would discover scheming and slander. As I read, the blood ran from my face. It was worse than I suspected. I felt faint and slouched to the floor. There was neither conspiracy nor defamation. There was a succinct description of herself, her goals and her dreams followed by a short portrayal of the person who has inspired her most. I started to cry.

I was her hero. She admired me for my personality, my achievements and, ironically, my integrity. She wanted to be like me. She had been watching me for years, quietly marveling over my choices and actions. I ceased reading, struck with the crime I had committed. I had expended so much energy into pushing her away that I had missed out on her.

I had wasted years resenting someone capable of magic—and now I had violated her trust. It was I who had lost something beautiful, and it was I who would never allow myself to do such a thing again.

Reading the earnest words my sister had written seemed to melt an icy barrier around my heart, and I longed to know her again. I was finally able to put aside the petty insecurity that kept me from her. On that fateful afternoon, as I put aside the laundry and rose to my feet, I decided to go to her—this time to experience instead of to judge, to embrace instead of to fight. After all, she was my sister.

Elisha M. Webster

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