Snowfall dusted the quiet graveyard, laying blankets of white over the sleeping souls. Derringer shivered, suffering quietly as Remington crouched down, placing a smooth pebble on the gray tombstone. He held that position for a moment, lost in his own prayers or thoughts before standing up and placing an arm around his younger sister.
"Ma, here's Derry, all grown up." He paused for a moment, as if waiting for an answer. "She used to call you that, you know."
"That or Celine."
"She loved the way it sounded. Derringer Celine Aragon. Something strong and soft at the same time."
She shifted her weight, now having to use the bathroom. "I know, Remy."
He picked up on the note of irritation in her voice but misinterpreted its origins. "I'm sorry, Der. I know you were too young to remember her...and this is probably more of an annoyance than anything else."
"It's not." she replied, putting her arm around his waist and squeezing him. "And I do remember a few things."
A sight smile. "Do you?"
She really didn't, at least she thought she didn't -- it was hard to distinguish what was truly a memory and what was created by anecdotes she had heard growing up. Still, she knew that Remington was very close to their mother, and this being her first memorable visit to her resting place pressed her into telling a white lie.
"I remember her coming to pick me up after her shift." she began. "And how starchy her uniform used to feel against my face as she carried me to the car. And the way her perfume always lingered on you after a hug..."
It was enough for Remington, who blotted his eyes with the sleeve of his coat. "I still miss her every day."
A silence settled over the two for a moment.
Then, "She wouldn't want you to go, Remy."
"I gotta, Der. It's either that or Dad's gonna put me out with the way things are headin', you see?" His Brooklyn accent smacked, heightening his matter of fact tone.
"Because he's tryna' live vicariously through me, and it's not gonna happen. He's had his glory days."
Her ten year old mind stumbled across the word, but she got his gist. "But I -- she'll miss you."
He looked down at his sister now, whose eyes were watering from the sting of the cold and emotion.
"I'm going to miss you too."
"Will you visit?"
"As often as I can."
He didn't - but his postcards did - colorful pictures with hasty sentences scribbled on the back. She'd reply with neatly printed missives, only to be disappointed when the envelopes reappeared, marked returned to sender. Eventually she'd given up, barely giving his long distance notes a second glance, tossing them in her schoolbag where they made their way to the bottom among crumpled doodles and broken pens.
Until the diagnosis.
After playing and replaying the message on the answering machine to make sure she had heard right, Derringer dropped her knapsack and sank to the floor, spilling its contents across the cold kitchen tile. Through blurry eyes she looked for Remington's most recent correspondence, finding it wedged in-between the pages of her Biology notebook. Tearing a clean sheet from the back, she began her message.
Dad's got cancer. she began, the sentence barely legible due to her shaking hands. I think you should come see him. She bit the end of the pen before adding, It's what Mom would want you to do.
A week or so passed, and Derringer checked the mail dutifully, half expecting her letter to boomerang back like it always did. After a month of playing the waiting game she threw in the towel, slamming the metal door of the mailbox shut with a mixture of frustration and disappointment. She trudged up the stairs, chucking her bookbag in the doorway on top of a pair of unfamiliar shoes.
Derrin did a double take.
Then calling out tentatively, "Remy?"
You need to be logged in to comment