I gaze at the silhouettes of black pine trees that glow across the top of the ridge. The screen door groans. It’s my sister, Liz. She crosses the deck and sits on the back steps that lead down to the shore. “Christine’s tired. She needs to rest.” The high slopes bordering the cove blush in the setting sun. She sweeps her arm across the spectacle. “Christ, I love the vastness. How the sunset stains the entire sky pink and orange.” Liz gives a rueful laugh and shakes her head, “Listen to me, getting all philosophical.”
“You’ve been living with Christine too long.”
Liz tugs on the brim of her baseball cap. “Why would you say such a thing?” She looks up at me, her eyes glitter; a band of shade splits her face.
I heave a sigh, brush off the top step, and drop next to her. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have teased. It’s just this thing with Christine, it’s all wrong. Why did you come here? You should be at Dana-Farber.” I close my eyes and turn back towards the sea.
“You think I haven’t tried?” Liz sniffs. “Grace and beauty encasing a steel core. That’s what she is.”
I snort in disbelief.
“As we crossed the harbor this morning, her hair windblown like a figurehead braving a storm, I took her face in my hands and I begged her,” Liz pounds her clenched fist on her knee, “begged her to fight. You know what she said?”
I shake my head, forget to breathe.
“It’s a gift.”
It takes me aback, this turn towards the religious. What can I say to counter it? I sip the heavy salt air, watch the gulls preen along the ridgeline of the neighbor’s barn.
Liz takes a sip of her vodka tonic. “I think she’s right. It makes everything sharper. We get to inhale this bay and listen to the life it feeds. We get to let it fill us, make us small.”
I wrap both arms around Liz. We rock back and forth, heads tilted to watch the changing sky. After a time, I raise my glass in a toast to the blurring indigo bay. “This is it then. Isn’t it? Moments like this.”
“Like frost in the morning, darling.” Liz’s kiss lingers on my cheek. “Remember when we’d sleep in the bunkhouse before summer camp? I used to wake and imagine salty fingers were curling around our shoulders. They invited us to dance with the breakers.” She rubs her hand along her outstretched arm. “Sometimes I went.”
I give my drink a final swirl, tip the glass up, and swallow the bourbon in one icy mouthful. I choke down a cough. It catches in the back of my throat, on that delicate spot where the tears harbor.
NINA FOSATI is an artist by inclination and a writer by misfortune. Beguiled by historic clothing and figurative art, she regularly holds forth on her favorites @NinaFosati. Recent stories have appeared in Homology Lit, Cliterature, the Pen 2 Paper Disability-Focused Creative Writing Competition, and Fictive Dream. Find her at: www.NinaFosati.com.