From the balcony, I can see my sister moving her arms around her in our backyard, slow but erratic. To almost anyone else, she might have looked insane, or at the very least a child left behind from the days of flower-children.
She makes mosquitoes bite her. At first, I found this morbid; the idea of purposefully getting something to suck blood from you seems a bit too close to self-harm, but, as time went on and she didn't stop, I got used to it. When I watch from a distance, the dance she does to get them to land on the right spot seems almost graceful and sometimes even practiced.
"What is it today?" I call down to her.
"Stars," is all she says, her eyes darting around, looking for her next visitor.
I suppose, judging from what she's told me so far, that the images that come out of this whole exercise are worth the trouble. It's always something abstract, something only she can decipher. The last time I looked, it was supposed to be morning dew on a sunflower. It looked like a mess of red bumps on a freckled arm.
There's nothing wrong with my sister, not really. When she was younger, the two of us went to see a therapist; the court had ordered it because our parents divorced. There wasn't much to the meeting. All we did was answer a few questions in the way any five and ten year olds would. Do you feel scared of mommy? No. Is daddy always home when you're with him? Yes. Even now I can remember feeling condescended to.
The point is, nothing was wrong with us. We grew up happy. My sister is an advertising executive and I've got a solid career as a teacher at our local high school. Very normal jobs. The only thing that stands out between the two of us is this obssession with mosquito art.
She walks up to the balcony and takes a seat in the chair next to mine.
"Done," she says with a sigh. Her eyes are closed but I can tell that she's strategically scratching some of the red lumps on her arm.
"How'd it go?"
"Good, everyone I needed was there."
I look down at her arm and, between the grating of her fingernails, I can see a mesh of histamines popping up through her skin. I try to see the stars, or at least some sort of pattern. Nothing.
"Do you ever think about the sun?" she asks, looking up.
"In what way?"
"Just, how it is."
"No, not really."
"The sun is a star."
I lean back in my chair and close my eyes to properlly absorb this. The sun is a star: that's true. It's one of billions, but it just happens to be the closest one to our planet. In a ocean of planets, meteors, and moons, the sun is perfect for us.
Looking over to my sister's arm to try to figure out the pattern again, I notice that it's glowing. The bumps have formed a perfect circle and throb with her heartbeat.