These summer nights

I am seventeen years old.

My hair is very long, and its natural chestnut brown fights a never-ending battle against the bottle red I desperately want to be.

My sister is fifteen years old.

She also has long hair, much thicker than mine, into which the sun has burnt beautiful blond streaks, evenly, so that it reflects both a silver and gold shine under the street lamps, at night.

It is the last week of May, and the time of day is so late that it is now in fact early, and I am not sleeping.  I haven’t slept properly is many weeks.

To keep the insomnia madness at bay, I am reading in bed, curled tightly around myself, like a croissant.  My bedroom door slowly opens, and Jessi tiptoes into my room.  She is wearing tight jeans and a man’s dress shirt, oversized on her tiny frame.

Tonight her hair sits tucked under a stained trucker hat that she insists on wearing, and indeed loving.

She looks stunning.

“Let’s go for a drive,” she says, as she crawls over my blankets to lie down next to me.  I close my book and turn over, facing her.

“Where do you want to go?” I ask.

“I don’t care.”  Jessi pauses as she snuggles down into one of my pillows.  She rubs her face aggressively into it, like a cat.  “How about the airport?”

“Sure,” I say.  The airport is a good choice.  It means highway speeds and the opportunity to gawk at the perverse grandeur of the wealthiest neighbourhood in Vancouver.

I sit up and put on my glasses; lean over and pick up the sweater lying on the floor next to the bed.

“What are you reading?” Jessi asks.  She gets up and walks over to my closet, absentmindedly flipping through shirts and skirts.

“Dracula,” I respond.  After I put on my sweater, I pick up the book and offer it to her.  She shakes her head.

“Is it good?”

“Yes,” I tell her.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes,” I say.  Come on, let’s go get the spare set of keys.”

The warm, wet air whips around the car as we trace the lines of the Fraser River.  Jessi has her feet pressed up against the glove box, her knees scrunched up under her chin.  Tiffany blasts from the CD player and she and I sing as loud as we can, belting out the lyrics with a zealous, almost manic energy.

“OHHHHH, I THINK WE’RE ALONE NOW.”

I know the words much better than she.  She mumbles her way through the bits she is unsure of, only to sing twice as loud during the chorus. I call that “pulling a Mr. Bean.”

“It’s not that I don’t know the lyrics,” she tells me as she shifts herself around in her seat, tilting her face up, so she can meet the rushing night winds and the rushing night, head on.  “I just like mine better.”

She cracks herself up.

It is in these moments that I feel what can only be described as complete love for my sister.  I want to wrap up my soul with hers and drive on, keep moving past the trees, mountains, water, and stars, until we might float up and away.  Away from our earthly bodies, gravity-bound, held down.

Growing up, our mother would always tell us the story of how when we were small, she visited a psychic with a friend.  The first thing the woman told her during her reading was that she had borne twin girls.  When my mother told her no, the woman was confused.  Instead of continuing with the reading, the woman reiterated her previous statement.  In response, my mother stated that she had three girls.  Her two younger daughters, born two years apart, almost two years to the day, who were birthed at the same hospital, on the same floor, in the same room, assisted by the same doctor.  The psychic nodded and smiled. She now understood.  These were her twins of which she had spoken. 

We were her twins. 

One of us had just waited a little longer to come out and play.

As we pull up to the international departures drop-off, I look over at my twin, a girl sewn up in a beauty intricate and rare, bronze skin, eyes of onyx, fingernails of jade, and all I want to do is tell her that I love her.

She looks at me, smiling, her voice feverish.

“I never want to go to school again,” she says.  “I wish we could just do this forever.”

I put the car in first gear; slowly ease my right foot off of the clutch, while gently lowering my right onto the gas.  I look at her and smile back.

“Where to next?”

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To the night, to the trees

I am eighteen.

It’s summer.

I have just finished a closing shift and am walking home because I have no patience to sit around and wait for the night bus.

My legs are tired after eight hours on my feet, but walking feels good; I am exorcising the ache from my limbs.

The sidewalk is shaded by old elms that whisper to each other in the late-night breeze.

The moonlight is splintered by these long-armed giants, so my path is guided by the soft glow of the streetlamps.

It always feels so much more romantic than I think it should.

I take off my tie, and unbutton the top of my blouse.

Roll up my pants.

I like the feel of the light breeze along my collarbones, my bare wrists.

And I think of a boy.

I imagine him saying my name.

When I get home I change into clothes as light as air.

My bedroom is still hot from the now-lost sunshine; the memory of its heat has settled, and nestled itself in every nook.

A phantom warmth.

I open the windows as far as they will reach. I take a deep breath, and smell the sweet scent of night.

My sister is away for the weekend, so I am alone.

In the kitchen I look at the photos taped to the fridge; it’s like my family has been blown far and away by Aeolus’ winds, and my heart tweaks.

I make peppermint tea, and sit in the quiet of the living room. My cat Sophie perched at the window sill, her copper eyes brilliant, but still.

She too is listening to the whispering trees.

I want to pick up the phone and talk.

I would like to talk to the boy.

Feel his hand on mine.

-

Time passes.

My tea cools, and my eyelids start to droop.

I leave my mug, half-drunk on the floor.

As I walk about to my bedroom I realize I have once again forgotten to water the plants.

Tomorrow, I think.

My room is cool, and smells of silence.

I close the window, but not entirely. A sliver of moonlight shines through my curtains – a bolt of lightning etched into the centre of my bed.

Under the blankets I let out a small sigh.

Tomorrow I will eat cherries for breakfast, I whisper.

To the boy.

To the night.

To the trees.

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