I’m losing patience, Thing One said. Where the fuck is she?
As I rode home through the park one soft evening, the sun turning the western sky purple and the most amazing shade of nectarine, I saw someone sitting in the cemetery.If she visited Nathan’s grave regularly, she never mentioned it. Since I’d taken to riding my bike, I stopped by, making sure the plantings were watered. Sometimes, there’d be a drawing from one of his nephews, which I tried not to look at, because they weren’t for me. Nonetheless, they made me cry—the sweet, childlike printing, the swirls of Crayola.
Hey, I called, getting off my bike and leaning it against a tree. Want company?Sure, she said.Nathan Vance Coburn III, loving husband, son and brother, a wonderful man, always smiling. There was a bouquet of fresh white roses there, from Kate, I assumed.
I sat next to my sister and put my arm around her, and she leaned her head against my shoulder, her hair tickling my cheek.A year ago, this kind of interaction would’ve been out of the question. It just wouldn’t have been us.
Today’s the one-year anniversary of the day we met, she said.
Oh, honey. I squeezed her a little closer.My father liked me quite a bit, though he wasn’t around too much, always flying off somewhere to do his umpire thing. But when he was home, life was a lot happier. I’m taking the Ainsburger on some errands, he’d call to Family 1.0, and once or twice a month he would take me off, my little hand so happy in his. We’d visit one of his friends, and I’d get to have ice cream and watch TV, maybe play computer games, something Candy forbid. Dad and his friend would go into the bedroom to have a little talk in private, and hey, I didn’t care. Dad often took me to the toy store for a new stuffed animal after the visit. For years, I thought errands meant visiting ladies.
Kate and Sean were fine. They didn’t hate me, beat me, tease me. They just kind of...ignored me. Not in a mean way, but in a slightly confused way. I remember knocking on Sean’s door, asking him if he’d play with me. He looked utterly baffled as he groped around in his desk for something I could do with him. (He showed me how to shoot an elastic band, then told me he had to study.) Kate wasn’t the type to brush my hair or play dolls with me, though she would, if I asked.I just got a little tired of asking.
So instead, I made up friends. Lolly and Mr. Brewster, the tiny humans who lived in the mountains of my blankets, would ski and slide down the hills made by my knees and have terrible crashes and vivid arguments about whose fault it was. There was Igor, a tiny elephant who lived in shoe boxes I decorated with scraps of fabric and paint.I sound tragic, don’t I? I wasn’t, I’m pretty sure. By the time I was eight or nine, I had friends, and it was such a relief, having people who really seemed to like talking to me. In middle school, I joined everything, did the grunt-work jobs (always secretary, never president, equipment manager rather than star player). High school was the same; I was always Switzerland, staying friends with everyone, never taking sides.