(Simòne Aisiks)– This is the story of the death of my sister.
I remember the back scratches, late at night. I remember the fluttering eyelashes, grazing her thin, almost hairless eyebrows. I remember the pitter-patter of the bathwater, trickling down her spine, as I let the bathtub flood. I remember those soap balls that she liked to bathe in, the drops of inky blue, dispersing and spreading through the clear water. I remember the bedding on her crib, the pink trim and the white thread coming undone, her gnawing, easing the pain. I remember her wispy hair, hair like dehydrated cotton candy at the only summer carnival we went to, on the 4th of July, the bright lights and the strange faces, the silver gleam of the moon streaking across the sky. I remember her yellowing nails. Her bloodshot eyes. The IV drip. Her convex chest, heaving. After that, I don’t remember much else.
Her memorial remains particularly vivid, a brilliant October day. The dreadful chiming sounds on the funeral’s porch, shimmying in the wind. The salmon-colored sky, the shouts, the milky spots as I shut my eyes, as hard as I could, willing all to go away. The erratic thumping of my heartbeat, of my uncle’s heartbeat, as I clung to his chest, hoisted in the air, with my head drooping off of his shoulder. I saw pinpoints of light, my consciousness fleeting, as I became lightheaded. I trembled silently as the tears came, swiftly swimming down my face, like a school of fish fighting against their inevitable fate, the monstrous shark closing in just behind them. The last bubbles of air had crept up from my lungs, and I began to gasp for air, choking. When it was all over, finally over, I looked out to the other side of the meadow, the fog creeping over the long daggers of grass, and the woods I saw earlier were now veiled and silent, and the rolling hills that seemed to roll on and on and on had vanished, leaving no evidence of their presence.
Over time the tension intensified, whether a direct cause of the sudden events or not. I would run the tap water, pretending to fill up cups and cups as the fighting ensued, so I wouldn’t have to listen. The various, unpleasant qualities that each of us had became magnified, more concentrated. The jokes we made fell flat, the moods became more extreme, the fuse had shortened, and anger spread with the potency of a chemical weapon. Death is irrational, ironic. It continuous forever, when it really is supposed to be the end. It was the snap of a rubber band, flung out to the farthest corners of our universe, the boundaries of our family. Our sanity evaporated. As if I was sitting in the first row at an auto race, awaiting the cars to zip out, and I blinked, and all I heard was the siren, but saw nothing. The cars were already on the other side. All I saw was the smut that rose from the blazing track, the only proof that the cars had began their quest.
I had only the love for the withered soul of my sister. The currents of my heart, the bubbling of the fire within that I once had, was never depleted, however. That fire was channeled into ruins. The lure of the arena, of the fight, took over me, enveloped me in its arms. It cradled my fire. My skin, dashes of white, red, purple. It became shallow, like a riverbank, and just as the jagged rocks and twigs would poke out, my veins of red bulged, boiling, glaring out at the open-ness of the land, a land without my soul, a land without hers.
But the years flowed by, the quickening rivers of my tears followed in pursuit, and the rage faded, ever so slightly. While her soul traveled farther and farther away, the holes in my heart that were clogged with sorrow seemed to drain, and my quivering lips parted every so often, simpering. I was as cheerful as grave, but charmed with positivity. Fondness and tenderness caressed my spirit, and appreciation blossomed, for all things enjoyable and all things irritable. I was smitten with the world, and my existence was greeted with no more pity, no more compassion. In loving all things not myself, I began to love myself, a being in this orb, an indestructible Samson.