I remember that morning. Sun glistened on ripening apples
and honeybees gamboled from flower to flower. I stood mesmerized
in the backyard unknowingly rejoicing in the perfection
of life. How could I know otherwise? I was a nine-year-old
girl who only knew how to be happy.
I rose early to explore my tiny tree-lined neighbourhood kissing
the edges of the salty Pacific. It was a magical place. Gina, Chelsea
and I were inseparable. In the afternoon, like many that summer,
we raced to the beach and with tentative steps waded into the too
cold ocean before scampering out to warm ourselves against a
sun soaked stone wall. Reveling in the simple joy of a vanilla ice
cream cone, smooth and intoxicating like the wavering scent of
honeysuckle, we tried to make the ever-shrinking treat last until
the afternoon heat forced us to slurp the melting remnants.
Later, we chased dogs in the park until exhausted we fell to the
ground laughing our guts out as hounds and mutts licked syrupy
vanilla from our chins.
And when the night grew dark my friends came up to my
place where we splayed in the backyard spying the heavens for
celestial bodies. Stars, magical impressions, crystal-like, wavered
hypnotically like unreachable gems at the bottom of a midnight
blue lake. We laughed at our imaginings, travelling in spaceships to
new worlds, strange, enticing worlds where curious and curiouser
revelations defied our perceptions.
I was sound asleep when Kate came to my room. She shook
my shoulders until I woke and in between gasps she wiped tears
away with the back of her hand as she told me Mac was leaving
us. I didn’t understand. Wasn’t this another of my father’s business
trips? I wanted to sleep.
Kate wanted to wrench out all the pain. Her head lay heavy
on my back as warm tears soaked my nightie. Her words faltered,
unable to find a way forward, she sat up, clenched my fingers in
warm dampness and tried to assure me that we were going to take
care of each other. I knew differently. I understood I would be the
one to take care of her.
Her girlfriends came over. Kate told them about the breakup.
These women who had partied in our home and laughed at the
uncertainties of life morphed into a pack of wolves feasting on
fresh meat. Their eyes transformed into tiny slits, angry green slits
of hate. They called Mac names, told Kate her marriage was over
and the life she knew was never coming back.
I hated them . . .
Storm Rolling Into Darkness is coming soon from @FriesenPress. You can preview
the contemporary women’s fiction here: