This is the ninth and final part of what is now a nine-part entry in the River of Mnemosyne challenge that’s going on over at The Tenth Daughter of Memory.
Out over the lake clouds mass and roll in a purple-pink sky; carry the promise of a late afternoon storm.
I slide the van along a slow winding curve, guide it to a stop.
Air thick and heavy with humidity presses close; settles like a shroud over me as I leverage myself out of the car. I can feel the heat rising from the thin ribbon of concrete that curls through the lush green landscape.
I roll tight shoulders, crack my neck. It explodes in my ear, sharp and loud in the stillness.
My eyes drift over long, neat rows of stone standing silent under a burning sky; watch the sun reflect off the mirror-flat surface of the pond as it arcs across the horizon.
I lean in, reach over and snag the flowers sitting on the passenger’s seat. The careful, almost silent snick of the door closing doesn’t disturb the silence.
Short, slow steps walk me around the front of the van.
Suddenly too tired to move, I lean back against the hood. I wrap myself in my arms and try to drag a lungful of air deep into my chest as memory suffocates me.
Wrapped up in silence and sunset, I don’t know how long I sit and stare. I’m not ready to leave, have no place to be. Not yet.
I catch movement out of the corner of my eye. Canada geese glide along the calm, smooth surface of the pond. I tilt my head and track the baby as it tips its body, dips under water.
One of the adults runs along the surface, gain lift for takeoff. Slow, deep wingbeats carry it aloft as the rest of the family takes flight.
The breeze shifts; picks up. I push off the hood and begin to move.
Careful, silent footsteps sink into the soft ground as I step off the concrete and slip down two rows and over one, into the shade of the Eastern Cottonwood’s canopy.
I drop to my knees, feel the warm solid earth beneath them, hallowed ground, and push words, brittle and low through a dry, tight throat. “Hi. Heather.”
I run a gentle hand along the smooth stone; reverent fingers trace the carved letters of my sister’s name. “It’s been a while.”