That evening, while Mr. Klein and I were halfway across the river, another boat came downstream so he lowered the line and waited for it to pass. It was a big fiberglass boat, and it didn’t slow down. Instead, it steered towards us and then arced away, sending its wake in our direction.
Rebecca sank further, dropped down to the first floor, her own office. A room empty of the watery substance and so her body crashed to the floor, dripping with a thickening blue. The screaming of the alarm was still strong in her ears.
I don’t know how this happened; I woke up and found myself like this. I have only just now begun to devote thought to why I am in this state really. My initial waking thoughts were prostrate and bowed to the immense pain of cracking open my oophorm eyes.
I pictured a man with such a long mustache that it curled around his body hundreds of times, making him look like a spool of thread. A week earlier, my father had taken me to the barbershop, where I had seen several long mustaches.
They were his wife’s hens, not his, he would tell anyone who listened. She was far too soft, mollycoddling any that became ill, lame, out-of-sorts. It made him jolly angry, if he ever thought about it too deeply or for too long, this attention that she gave them but not him.
I’m happy to say I have a knack for selling furnaces and water heaters. I’m practical and mastered how to calculate how many BTU’s you need for the square footage you’ve got to heat. Where hot water is concerned, that’s a function of how people are in the house.
I left the bar feeling a unique kind of embarrassment, not that I didn’t belong in their world, but a humiliation of character for betraying Corey’s trust. Corey let me into his home and was the only one in Winter Harbor, or indeed in my life, who never seemed to judge me for my naive sojourn North.
I hold the glossy, red boots in my hands, and inside, I feel my seventeen-year-old self, twist and writhe. The last time I saw my mother, she was foaming hot curses from the mouth for my wearing these shoes. They sat in the top of her closet, absorbing the scent of plywood, collecting dust. In all the depths of my mind, I could not fathom her wearing them. Even now I cannot.
When I began, our images in the mirror transformed too. Reflecting back were two girls wearing purple dresses inlaid with gold, hemlines scraping the sand. We had a diamond stud each in our noses and copious bangles. Once, I’d overheard a family friend describe me as plain. My mum hadn’t denied it. But here, in this mirror, I was something else.
She was extremely sensitive to this particular raag. A simple mistake in its rendition which escaped the notice of a regular listener – a minute deviation from Shuddh Rishabh while ascending or from the Komal Rishabh while descending, for example – would cause genuine physical harm to her body.
Do you chew Bazooka bubble gum still? Do you wear Converse high-tops and carry around erasers that smell like strawberry? Do popsicle sticks fall out of your pockets when you do cartwheels on the path behind the ravine?
He was older than her, but she was maternal toward him, nonetheless. “Dear”, “sweetie” and “honey” littered her conversation. But he had grown tired of her kindnesses. She has always been good to him and Caroline, but kindness turned to sympathy upon Caroline’s passing.
Mom doesn’t throw things away, not since the time she got rid of a waterproof travel bag thinking she would never need one, until her knitting group made a trip to the river and everyone but she had a waterproof travel bag. Never again, she vowed.
She wears a pink shirt and a floppy straw hat but you can see her eyes, big and brown. She smiles wide, not shy at all like you figure you’d be if you were in her country and a Mexican stranger waved at you from her Mama’s car on the side of a road. Mama is already driving again.
In years past they had had larger holiday gatherings. She had grown up living next door to her favorite cousins, her mother’s sister’s family. Christmas Eve and Christmas morning were always with her cousins, both girls, the same ages as she and her brother. To her, they were like sisters. Early Christmas morning, they would open stockings at one of their houses, then their uncle Kip would show up dressed like Santa Claus with a huge box of gifts for all of them.
Ammi has become thin as a bamboo. Her eyes bulge out like a Tiddi. She coughs all day. I cannot tell whether due to lack of food or if she is heartbroken. Still, we are safe. Do not be anxious about us.