In the soft lamplight I sit in my reading chair, its velvet brown body cradling the weight of my heavy mood as I stare through the window in front of me, past the pane of glass that distorts my perception of myself, into the swirling dark night outside, and I lose my vision in its many folds of invisible dimensions.
My mind wanders up a rocky path, into the forest past old familiar trees with thick scarred bark, baring their comfort with their rickety branches and creaking mournful warnings. Breaking through the dark wooded night a house looms on its hill, alone in its wilderness yet warmed by its long stayed guests within. It is home, was home, is home still. A fleeting time in the lives of four, but a structure to be held for the rest of their time lived. An imaginary wonderland that I keep tucked deep inside my pocket, fondling its warmth with my cold fingers, running my mind over its familiar curves and crevasses.
Here I am, visiting again, and you’re there, you’re always there, with your kindness and your light and your easy laugh that moves me forward. And we play, you and I, with our games and our books and our bikes and our toys. And we’re close friends, and we’re distant strangers, and we make one another smile, and we make each other cry, and we go on great adventures together both large and small. We are sisters, partners in childhood, linked by family, and by blood.
I have a photograph of you on a shelf near my reading chair. The picture is small and quiet, like you are. In it you’re holding a mask in front of your face. It’s a beautiful mask, made of clay and feathers and ribbon and beads. It is a cast of your face so it’s you, but it isn’t. But I see you every time I look at this photograph. I see the mask that is you, but isn’t you, I see the girl behind the mask, but I don’t.
And as I sit here, reflecting back upon the time of our childhood and staring at your photograph, I feel alone in my chair, a missing piece of two sisters adrift in the ever-moving currents of life and time.