With nothing to throwbetween us, I was hard-pressed to figure out how to give us the privacy we required at this time. Naturally, with our history, our sleeping arrangements felt awkward.
Regardless, our anxiety finally calmed, attaining a lull under the backdrop of a rising moon; we were both soon asleep in the space we had created.
But our slumber was interrupted by what sounded like an old victrola playing a scratchy, broken record, droning on loudly. However shaken we felt, we remained mute as we watched a shadow pass by us gracefully, totally in step with the music.
Sharon was very cross with Uri, as evidenced by her unrelenting insults. A waste of a beautiful exotic place, he thought to himself. But the secrets Uri kept made a fool out of her, and he knew it. This resort wouldn’t be a haven for them but rather a place they would end.
Pulling down his hat to cover his eyes, hoping, by chance, a resort attendant would seek them out for a drink order, distracting her mean temper. But no, she continued to wave her bony finger in his face and shame him with all the rumors she’d heard.
Serena dropped off the old disposable camera at Walmart for developing, asking for the one-hour rush. The sixty minutes couldn’t pass soon enough; that’s how excited she was.
Finally, it was time! She opened the package with enthusiasm looking forward to what she would find. It looked like the images were from the 70s, and so captivating. They held a certain charm as she quickly went through them. It looked to Serena as if these were from a wedding reception. Yes, there was one with the bride in her beautiful white dress!
I searched the night sky for a familiar constellation of stars, hoping I could catch their orbit behind an opening in the clouds. But luck was not with me tonight. Instead, shadows projected their natural art onto the forest, leading to sparks of memories of my sisters and our shared life. The past felt empty, yet my mind continued sprouting up more scenarios. I struggled to breathe with this onslaught of my past. My brow got damp with sweat, and my head was in a swirl of sketch thoughts. It was all so ugly, worse than I remembered other times.
Above the feast, a curious owl perched on a hollow branch observed us suspiciously. It lifted everyone’s spirits to see his round face, a surprise on this unjoyous occasion. The warning crack of the branch’s fragility shocked us as we watched the bird cautiously inch sideways, moving closer to the trunk. He was just too heavy. Like us with all the ache of mourning our loved one.
We refocused on the preparation of the sacred ritual. One by one, the candles were lit, and the covers of our hoods lifted as we summoned the healing power of the goddess Isis.
“Enough with the drama, Jackie! Why bundle up all your emotions until we’re all together, then proceed to cross the line of decency every time?” Turning to the dishes, I immersed my hands in the water, deliberately refocusing. Like a ghost, she flitted away, likely feeling attacked. Ah, some peace now.
The radiant sun, my mother’s true idol, bathed the kitchen with brilliant light. It put me in a reflective mood pulling out the baking stone while the wind-filled curtains created strange flickering patterns against the stove. Sneaking a taste of the frosting, I began to meander in my memories.
After hearing a thud, my impulse was to hide or disguise myself. I knew how cruel Chucky was, having witnessed him many times crossing every line of decency. Now was the time for some magic, in other words, my immediate disappearance, or he would stalk me too.
But with this ongoing monsoon, I was probably safer here. I needed to get to the library with its secret chambers. My hunch was he didn’t know about them. Hopefully, I was correct.
With lights flickering because of the storm, I made my move. Upon reaching safety, I let out a hefty sigh.
The strong breeze carried the seeds away after causing the dandelion’s stem to sway violently. Tears began to bleed from my eyes, producing liquid clouds hindering my view. This scene viscerally brought back a bittersweet memory, a sadly uplifting boon to my psyche. Yet, I wonder—when will I get my reprieve from the anguish of the past?
The tree branches above my head clashed together like the rhythmic grinding of my teeth masticating a small square of beef jerky. I watched the swift stream of the river as my conflicting emotions began to climb and tangle again.
A male Rufous Hummingbird caught my eye, sucking at the feeder near my cabin. Being common, yet elusive, in this protected area of Alaska—the breeding grounds for his species before the long flight to Mexico, I was grateful to have spied him.
“Drink up, little one,” I said, beaming with joy and protectiveness. “Glad you could come to visit me here in Valdez today. Get your fill!”
I heard the shot crack and watched disbelievingly as the BB pellet hit my precious friend, halting the sound of his brilliantly flapping cinnamon-colored wings. My horrified screams now filling that void.