She'd always come running when I called, my little sister.
She was three years younger than I was, but to her, I was big brother, father, and something close to God. I kept her and our little brother safe from our mother, I tutored her in math when she realized it wasn't her best subject, I bought them both little cupcakes for their birthdays when we all knew Mother couldn't be bothered with spending money on anything other than booze, and I'm the one who broke down and went to the principal for free lunches when they joined me in school, while I would have gone without.
She knew everything I did was for her and our brother, that I was a big brother first and myself second. She knew that I would teach her everything that she needed to know, that I would put her best interest first, and never steer her wrong. She knew I would be the one lurking over protectively in the doorway with a knife under my arm when she finally brought a boy home. She knew I'd be the one to grill him like it was the Spanish Inquisition come to America.
She knew she was the reason that I could be me, because alone, our mother would have been the breaking of me. The gift of my brother and sister, that was the making of me.
So, the first time she didn't come running when I called, that was my first sign that she was growing up.
That was the first time I knew, without a doubt, that I'd done everything right.