It was raining and I was drenched, only one suitcase at my side holding new clothes I’d bought rather than to step over that bloodstain. All that I had left with then and all that I returned with now. Memories of the last days here flooded around me like the torrential rains. Memories of papa’s funeral and the fight and shouting in the last days. Memories of me flying out the door and it slamming behind me. Leaving it all behind forever. Sixteen years prior. I stood here at thirty-four years old now…left a girl then. Though I had thought I’d known everything…back a woman. Knowing now I knew nothing at all then, knew nothing at all now. Coming back had never been the plan, but now coming back a not at all well put together-show them that I was right- and had made it- and certainly not a great life to flaunt in their faces- kind of coming back…but a tail between my legs- drenched in the rain with only a suitcase and a murder to my name and most surely not a shred of dignity kind of way.
“How long are you going to stand there before you finally suck it up and walk through?”
I turned to the voice behind me that I would know anywhere…and sixteen years later. My older sister, Sas. Always the studious one. Funny that I became the writer, I once wrote to her. “Not funny at all” She had written back, “art runs in your studious veins but not in mine.”
She had walked up behind me from the sidewalk with an umbrella which she put over my head as she reached down and lifted my suitcase and started forward expecting me to follow.
Life comes in chapters. I had closed so many chapters before today and now…I began another one but I wasn’t sure how long or fast this one might last just yet or if it would be one ripped out of the book before it even began.
Bird woke to the sunlight streaming in through the window, the white filmy curtains not doing much to keep the light out. She remembered when she was a young girl growing up in this room, her windows facing East that was how she had liked it. But over time in Los Angeles and windows of apartments looking out to other close buildings where you could look right in at your neighbor, not to mention waking with many hangovers after a long night out dancing in Hollywood with her friends. Life was a party during her twenties. Work hard. Play harder. She had begun keeping heavier dark curtains in the bedroom windows and closed, going to bed in the dark and waking back in it…often waking late in the day because of it, throwing off her natural wake up time ability. The alarm clock on her bedside an easy slam to hit the snooze button over and over again or just to throw across the room. She couldn’t remember a time in the past sixteen years waking with the sunlight or without hitting the snooze button at least twice.
Blinking to the daylight, unsure of where she was or how she had gotten there. Only a minute and clearing the sleep from her eyes and she recognized the quilt at the foot of her wrought iron bed in the bedroom of her childhood. She gazed around the sunlit room, the warm blue walls and the white painted furniture standing over dark polished hardwood floors with a braided blue and white rug in the center.
She was back.
She sighed and lay back on the pillows, staring up at the ceiling.
The strength of this day not yet within her.
Then the door opened and in walked Mag, bustling in her hurried way she had done in since she was born. Rushing into the world before her time. Never walking before she ran and running before most babies walked. Always in a hurry, always living like a New York Minute. And in her always older than the rest of the world way, even though she was my younger sister by four years.
I did not have the patience for her this early in the morning. Not today.
But she brought a tray of coffee. I couldn’t kill her just yet.
She set the tray down on the bedside and began gathering the clothing that I had left laying where they fell the exhausting afternoon before.
“You’ve been sleeping eighteen hours straight, Bird! Dear Lord these clothes are soaked through!”
Buried my face into the pillow deep and wondered if I could suffocate myself in such a way.
The smell of coffee won though and I sat up and poured a cup. Black.
“Like your soul, Bird” Sas said entering the room. My older sister by two years which might as well have been twenty. She came into this world serious and studious. She was meant to be a big sister only so that she could lord over and be bossy. The judgmental attitude had carried from a young age when she would look at you and tell you your head was too big or your dress was too short. And who showed up at the door with her disapproving glance around the messy room and watching Mag clean it up. She poured herself a cup of coffee and sat on a nearby chair, mag poured another cup and sat at the end of the bed.
“What is this? A sister reunited slumber party?” I asked.
Mag looked to Sas and Sas looked steadily at Bird. Long enough in silence. In her always most unhurried way. As kids she always won the no-blinking contest, and she did so now, until Bird got uncomfortable…ready to fly again. Mag the hurried, Sas the patient, Bird the ever-flight-ready. The three of us were the closer of the five sister’s in our family. The youngest two….Simone and Sierria, had always had their own click, like twins even though almost two years apart of each other…but six years younger than Mag.
“Why are you here?” She finally asked. Like a judge from way up high. Like the gate keeper of the house behind the white gate’s. I had faced enough judge time in the past two weeks and I was tired. I didn’t have it in me. I felt as if my body had been drained of all blood and all I wanted and could do was lay there, lifeless. Why had I come here of all places?
I sipped my coffee. Took a breath to steady my nerves and said ” Because I’ve fucked it all up and I am home. I have nowhere else to go. Nothing else to go to. I fucked it all up. Is that what you are expecting to hear, Sas?”
“Yes. It is.” She uncrossed her long legs and stood, set her cup back on the trey and left the room. Not before pausing at the doorway and saying, looking down, “I just wish it wasn’t.”