When Maggie'd come around, Lisa had been excited. a sister, she'd thought in rapture, will talk with me about malibu stacey and angela davis, and we'll learn how to make hummus, and even maybe do some hair-braiding! It would be better than Bart, she was sure of that. Brothers and sisters were natural enemies, and this way it would be two against one.
That was when she was six. Now she was sixteen, and Maggie -- contrary to everything Lisa had ever seen or read -- seemed to have no real interest in her older sister, much less any inclination to copy her or be close with her.
It wasn't as if Lisa hadn't tried:
"Maggie, there's a farmer's market opening up in Springfield, and Otto's doing a presentation on biofuels called "Maized and Corn-fused"! Wanna go? I'll buy you some free-range eggs!"
"The Friends of the Library booksale's this weekend -- I bet there's lots of remaindered copies of Miley Cyrus' treatise on particle physics available!"
"Wanna watch this documentary on aboriginal Brazilian water rights with me?"
"Wanna watch this movie about a special summer in the lives of four best friends with me?"
"... Wanna sit with me while I unwrap this movie?"
Everything had been met with a shrug, an eye roll, or a snort. When a desperate offer to take Maggie shoe-shopping (synthetic leathers were so pretty now!) elicited an absolute flounce, Lisa sat down at the kitchen table with a sigh. She was used to social rejection, but from a ten year-old sister, it stung just a little bit more. Her mom, coming in to check on the rice krispie pie in the oven -- her own recipe, of course -- noticed her glumness and squeezed her shoulders.
"Why so blue, bluebird?" Marge asked, and Lisa leaned back in her chair.
"I don't think Maggie likes me much," she said. "She never wants to do anything with me, Mom. I thought little sisters were supposed to worship their big sisters?"
"Oh, honey." Marge poured them both some Hi-C. "It doesn't always work like that. Sometimes I preferred to play by myself when I was a little girl, too -- not because I didn't like my sisters, but they were so close in age and they seemed to understand each other more." She got up and kissed Lisa's head, adding before she went back in the living room, "Maggie probably sees how close you are with Bart, that's all. She's still a little girl, and you two are teenagers."
Lisa blinked. "Close? With Bart?!?"
"You rang, kid blister?" Bart came into the kitchen and beelined directly for the fridge, emerging with a sandwich that looked like it was filled entirely with porkchops. Lisa narrowed her eyes at him for a moment and then laughed.
"Decided to give up on the bad teenage mustache, huh?" she teased, and Bart snorted.
"Milhouse decided to copy me," he told her, making Lisa chortle even more. Milhouse had always been in awe of Bart, but it had recently taken a turn for the almost-weird; his room was a surreally stupid version of Bart's, his music collection the same but bigger, his hobbies tripping along in an attempt to follow Bart's hummingbird interests. Milhouse had more money than they did, but somehow his versions of Bart seemed cheaper, less intense. Lisa supposed that was one thing she could say for her brother -- he threw himself into dopey things, but he did it with conviction.
"Hey," Bart said as he polished off his sandwich (when had he even eaten it? Lisa wondered), "Dad's looking for you, said he needs you to explain again how to Google himself."
Lisa groaned. "I've shown him eight times!" she moaned. "I can't do it again!"
Bart leaned over and snagged her Hi-C, draining it and nodding at the same time. "No prob, I'll handle Monsieur Le Internaught ... if you run interference for me with Mom, 'cause I forgot to roll up the windows in the station wagon last night--"
"--and it rained. Gotcha." Lisa heard herself and frowned, curling her fingers on the table. "Hey, Bart," she tried hesitantly, "Akira's opening a bakudanyaki and ramen stand tomorrow afternoon. Wanna go check it out?"
Bart clapped his hands together as he got up. "Last time I had a ramen-eating contest with Milhouse I had to forfeit for making noodles come out my nose!" he declared. "We'll meet you there after school, and this time I won't stop till he's choking on fishcake."
"Sounds good," Lisa said faintly as Bart bounded out of the kitchen. She listened to the thumps as he took the stairs two at a time; she knew he'd be texting Milhouse before he even reached his room.
Her mom loved Aunt Patti and Aunt Selma, Lisa knew that. And what Lisa had hoped for with Maggie, she realized, was the closeness her twin aunts had, the closeness (she could admit to herself, jealously) that Maggie had with their cousin Ling.
Maybe, Lisa thought, those people who talk about natural enemies have it all utterly, completely wrong.