from Shiny Apalaris
“Mommy, it’s okay,” said Shiny. “It’s okay, don’t cry. Don’t always cry.”
I felt her thick hair, lying down, and her whiskey breath that reminded me of the English, hand-made cabinet she inherited and used as a bar, out in the hallway. “It’s a hallway piece”—dark hallway to creep through alone at night. It was where she was from, England, brought over, a little girl herself then, and her father in the story she told was dead from a horse he loved, that kicked him into a box, and put into the grave together as one. She’d smile in her drink and in her broken looking teeth.
Shiny was bright, such a bright. She jumped over a dead horse, on roller skates.
“Shiny.” I was falling down again, going under the color that my mother made.
“I don’t want to live, so alone, but . . .” and I drifted down under the lake, “. . . I’ll sleep, and there’ll be a fragile dream to keep me.”
from Shiny Apalaris
I saw her, my long-dead sister, Shiny, finally, on the street. She was sitting on a bench, by herself. Her feet were stretched out in front of her. I knew it was her.
On the bench directly across the street from her, sweet, strange-friend Rachel went and sat. Sometimes, I called her Ray.
I sat down by Shiny.
“It’s you,” I said. “Isn’t it?”
“Yes,” she said to me, “I saw you coming. I knew you’d be here, eventually.”
I blew up inside my old heart. I might have had a hole blown out from me, the edges on it singed and gray.
I remembered her belt loops I once held, her cottons, and the colors she wore.
“You,” I said. “Oh, look at you—Shiny—” I looked for the three stripes on her dear face. “I remember you wanted those color stripes on your face,” I said.
I was talking to my gone-lost sister, Shiny-Elizabeth.
“You look the same,” I told her. “You look how I think of you, but a little older, and bigger.”
“Carl. You’ve been to me like I’ve been to you, all this time. Do you know that?”
“No, I didn’t—know that.”
There was a streetlight down a short way, to see her by. She was still my sister, and she was here. The night felt good. It supported us, not hot, or cold, almost unnoticeable. I wrapped up in her. Rachel sat across from us. She made herself look smaller; she pulled up the collars of her shirt to her chin.
“The three of us,” I said. “I wish we could have one season together, like this Fall. I want that with you, and with Rachel. That girl is Rachel Coyne, over there.” Shiny nodded.
“I don’t want to go back to what it was, to my life,” I said.
“Without you. And where the hot sun shines,” I said. “I like it when it’s dark, and easy, and no one around much. I don’t like the sun out, in the day very much. I just want to sit around, with you, and know what we’re feeling and thinking, without saying much. Just be there at nights.”
“There’s other kinds of light, maybe that are okay,” she said. Her voice was one of them, on me. A small warm flashlight touching my face like a small hand. There were lights in Shiny’s chest, like small, crowded candles.
Her teeth flashed white in the semi-dark. Her eyes were brown, to my happiness. She had a few more lines near her eyes and mouth. I hardly noticed anything but just her being there on the bench. I wasn’t so amazed to find her. I’d hoped we’d sit somewhere and talk. The triangle we were, in that distant living room, with our mother, where we were formed, so long ago, led to this place, a thin extension of it, nothing in-between but waiting room time.