Two sisters trod to school through a hilly paddock on Auckland’s West Coast: the younger following in her older sister’s muddy gumboot prints, trying to stay steady on the narrow path that was cut by the sheep and baked rigid by the sun.
“D-I-S-A-P-P-E-A-R-E-D” the older sister chanted loudly, her chestnut ponytail swinging across her back, conviction in every step.
“D-i-s-s-a-p-p-e-a-r-e-d” the younger one repeated, in a smaller voice.
“No, one s and two ps,” said the older. “That’s all you have to remember.” As if, that's all you have to ever remember in life.
Lean, in her skivvy, with track pants shoved into her boots, at that moment the older sister seemed the wisest, most worldly character the younger had ever known.
Past the pond, with its driftwood boats that the girls regularly shot across the water with enough horsepower to wet their boots and pants: “d-i-s-a-p-p-e-a-r-e-d,” the younger corrected her herself. "What luck to be born alongside her," she thought. Still does think.