"Deux saucisse maison, avec frites et choucroute, s'il vous plaît."
Wow! How suave and sophisticated does my big sister sound speaking French? She's already ordered two white wines to go with our meal, and this second little speech only confirms her linguistic excellence. The old waiter didn't bat an eyelid when she spoke, she's in her element and so am I, all thanks to her education.
"It's only sausages and chips," she tells me.
I know, but it's French sausages and chips and we're dining outside in the sunshine. It's like we're models in an impressionist painting, experiencing a culture far grander and stylish than anything dreary old England has to offer.
"What's the other thing you ordered?" I ask her.
"Choucroute? That's sauerkraut, which is cabbage fermented in brine."
"Urgh," I reply, and pull a face to match.
She laughs at me like she's always doing. I'm her daft little sister, a thirteen year old kid who's five years behind her. I'm not on her level, but I do amuse her in my own silly way. I'm her sidekick, a devoted admirer that hangs on every word she says. She laughs again when I taste my wine. I'm desperate to be all grown up and like it, but it tastes like acid in my mouth. I can't help it this time when I pull another stupid face.
"Oh, Steffanie, I'm going to miss you so much," she says, still chuckling away.
She means miss me when she goes away to university in Cardiff, leaving home to continue her studies after our holiday in France with our parents is over. I don't want her to go, I've cried tears about it, but I know she has to leave if she wants to follow her dreams and ambitions.
"I'll miss you too," I tell her, which is a massive understatement as far as I'm concerned.
"I'm sorry," she says, knowing how I feel. "But I can always write to you."
Sure she can write, but a letter doesn't sound like much compensation, although it will be better than nothing I suppose. Oh well, or c'est la vie as the French would say. We still have the rest of our holiday, our parents can go sightseeing or whatever, and I'll have my sister all to myself. I don't care what we do, we can do anything she likes, anything as long as she takes me with her.
We settle back in our seats while we wait for our sausages, which seem to be taking forever to arrive. Everything is done so slowly in France, which is nice as it gives you time to relax and watch the world and it's people passing by.
We look around at the town square laid out before us, with it's quaint buildings and shops. It's only a small place, not much more than a village really, with little to offer except for the traditional trades you would normally expect. There's a butcher, a baker, the street cafe where we're sat outside, but of all things this tiny town also has a very glamorous fashion boutique, which my sister finds highly peculiar for such a small place.
"Tres Chic," my sister says. "I wonder how that shop survives?"
"Why shouldn't it?" I ask her.
"Well it looks so expensive," she says. "And where would it get enough customers from?"
I have a theory, so I tell it to her.
"It's because all French girls are sexy and have a secret lover."
"Do they?" She asks, humoring me.
"Yes. They all have a lover, someone much older who's married and buys them lots of nice things... like pretty dresses."
"Yes. It's how French girls learn about love."
"And how does my little sister know all this?" She asks, playfully patronizing me.
"I've seen it on TV. I saw two French films and they showed the same sort of thing."
"Sexy girls with secret lovers?"
"Oh, Steffanie," she says, chuckling away again. "You are funny."
"It's true," I tell her.
"Yes," she replies. "I think it probably is."
She may agree with my theory on French girls, but she still carries on laughing at me though. I don't mind, I love amusing her, I love being with her and these past few days we've spent together have been the happiest days of my life.
"Promise you'll write to me." I say to her.
She stops laughing and studies me with a very different expression on her face. I look deep into her eyes, so she understands how very much her promise will mean to me. We're sisters, we have a bond and I don't want to lose it. I want us to stay close and enjoy a whole lifetime with many more happy days like today.
She moves forward, takes hold of my hand and nods her head.
"I promise," she says.
"Sisters?" I ask her.
"Sisters forever," she replies.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~