- Just a name.
“It’s really amazing, Cousin Adam told me as we filled our plates with potato salad and fried chicken at the family reunion. “Two babies, born to one woman, five months apart.”
“That’s not possible, unless…” I said, thinking preemies happen, but five months? “Were they both normal?”
“Beautiful little girls, both full term, both healthy. I can’t believe you haven’t seen them.”
“I don’t see much of the family.” It’s true, I don’t like most of them.
“But these are your granddaughters. Corrine and Harfefe.”
So, I found my daughter and she said, “Oh yeah. It was that double gestation thing. Something women can elect when they are multigravida.”
“But is that name something like “covfefe?”
She rolled her eyes. “Covfefe is a boy’s name.”
When my youngest was three, he loved to run down the dunes at Lake Michigan, flying with a beach towel cape soaring behind him. “Come on Sammy,” he said. Sammy only stayed for one summer. I missed him when he was gone, even though I never saw him. He kept my baby safe, away from the waves.
I run to a cadence of eight, the way aerobics teachers used to repeat each move, the grapevine or the knee lift. It is the only way I can make it to the top of the hill, repeating the mantra in my mind like Sisyphus pushing his rock, until my knees scream, and my calves no longer move. I pause at the top and realize that the downhill will hurt, too, and that after I make it down, there is another hill.
My brother and I babysat for our younger sisters for a couple of hours after school. He was oldest and male, and that meant he was in charge. None of us would ever follow his orders. I wish I could say I stood up for my sisters, but it was every girl for herself. One day, in response to my defiance, he took an aboriginal sword that our uncle had sent from Taiwan and chased me through the house. I ran to my room and slammed the door, holding it closed by levering against the wall because there were no locks in that house. He couldn’t get in, so he slid the sword under the crack along the floor and slashed at my feet. He was always there, trying to cut out the bottom. As long as he tried though, neither of us could move.
Grandma retired to a tiny inland Florida town and grew monster oranges in her back yard. I visited once when the oranges were in season and had to stretch, jumping from tiptoe to pick them. The fruit was so ripe that juice ran from my mouth as I bit into the flesh, streamed down my arms, thick and sticky, wet and warm from the sun. It tasted of sunshine and I wished I could put it back on the tree.
Florida had clean white beaches, but nothing matched Lake Michigan for discoveries. We found a giant turtle beached, but alive, and slid it back out to the lake until it swam away. Alewives washed up on the beach every June, and we had to shovel sand over them to keep the smell of dead fish away. Oil glazed tourists couldn’t handle the wild of our North.
We found a deer on the beach once, so dead it had no scent. Its body was covered with sand, a mound along the shore, but the skeletal remains of its head poked out, the snout pointing toward sunset. Perhaps it could smell the sun, simmering into the horizon.
Georgiana Nelsen is a business lawyer in Houston, Texas. She makes sense of the world through reading and writing fiction. Her family and her dogs keep her optimistic. Find her at @rosespringvale on Twitter, gsnelsen on Instagram, Georgiana Steele Nelsen on Facebook or occasional updates and book reviews at sunrisesandsuch.blogspot.com.