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When Sis Is Out
Written By: Tammy Ferebee

            “What exactly are we looking for, Jasmine?”

            “You’re not looking for anything,” I tell her. “Just keep watch. If anyone pulls up, let me know.”

            I search through her top drawer. My sister is far from tidy, so I don’t have to worry about her knowing I was in here.

            “She’s gonna kill you, Jazzy.”

            “Only if she finds out.”

            Mona sucks her teeth before turning back toward the window.

            “Damn! Where did she move it to?”

            “Oh,” Mona lets out slowly. “So you’re still reading big sis’s diary, huh?”

            I stand puzzled and frustrated. The room isn’t that big. Maybe she threw it out. Maybe she has it with her.

            “Check in between the mattresses, genius. That’s where my brother hides his condoms.”

            My eyes widen with hope. Other than ordering me around, or telling me what not to do, Journee sure as hell doesn’t talk to me about life. At least not the things I want to talk about. That’s why her diary comes in handy. She writes about what I wish she’d talk about with me.

            I struggle to move the top mattress, and as Mona predicted, this is where my sister keeps all of her secrets. Some of these secrets, I didn’t want to find.

            “Find it?”

            I pull out the diary and magazine. I reveal the cover to my friend.”

            “Why does Journee have that?”

            “I don’t know. She’s grown, though,” I remind her. “So it’s not exactly illegal.”

            “Playboy. Isn’t that for men?”

            I shrug once.

            “You wanna look at it.”

            “No,” I say hastily.

            “Come on, Jazzy.”

            “I don’t wanna see naked guys.”

            “It’s not naked guys, dumb ass. It’s a men’s magazine. It’s naked women. Look at the cover.”

            “And that’s better?”

            “What are you afraid of?”

            “I’m not afraid of anything. I just don’t wanna look.”

            She walks over and snatches the Playboy from my hand before taking a seat at the end of my sister’s bed. Silently, I sit on the floor as she flips through the pages.

            “These are just naked models.” She holds up the page for me to see. “And stories.”

            She moves to sit beside me and we look through the magazine together.

            “Maybe your sis wants to do this one day.”

            “She’s pretty enough, but my father would kill her. He could not live knowing that there’s even a slight chance his friends, neighbors, or co-workers could see his daughter.”

            “It’s not like they’re having sex, though. They’re just posing naked.”

            “Do you think, you know, that you could ever do something like that?”

            She shrugs. “I don’t think so. I don’t even like being naked in front of my doctor.”

            I chuckle. “We’re only fifteen, though. Who knows how we’ll feel three or four years from now.”

            “Yeah right, Jazzy. You’re only trying to look at this in a positive light because there’s a possibility that Journee may want to give this a try.”


            As we flip through the pages, I focus on the model’s faces. Each of them is flawlessly beautiful. No acne, perfect teeth, gorgeous long hair. Journee could easily blend in with these girls.

            “If Journee decided to do this, would you?”

            “They’re so pretty. I don’t think I’d fit in.”

            “Girl, please. Journee didn’t always look so gorgeous. She had braces, too,” she reminds me. “She went through an acne phase. By senior year, you’ll probably look the way she does now.”

            I suck my teeth. “Wishful thinking.”

            We continue to flip through the magazine. I admire the faces of women I someday hope to look just as beautiful as. Though my parents tell me I’m a lovely young lady, I don’t feel that way.

            Mona continues flipping through the magazine. “I’m not dying to do nude modeling, but I don’t think it’s all that bad.”

            “There are definitely worse things out here.”

            “Think about how many people wish they looked like this, or wished they could be with these women.” She closes the magazine. “Really, Jasmine. Think about it. Hypothetically, of course. If we did playboy, millions of women would wish they looked like us. Billions of men would wish they could be with us. And it’s not sex. We’d create these fantasies based solely off our looks.”

            I sit mutely.

            “How would you feel about Journee if she were to pursue a career like this?”

            “I’ll always love my sister.”

            She stands. “That’s not really an answer.”

            “Well, we have to put her mattress back the way it was.”

            I place the magazine and diary back on top of the box spring when I notice other hidden editions.

            “Why so many?” Mona questions.

            I look at my friend and then back down at the hidden publications. A thought comes to mind. We’re assuming that Journee wants to pursue this kind of modeling. We haven’t considered that she may be enjoying these photos the same way men do.


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