From the story Angelfish
Nothing in our mother’s life had nearly prepared her for coming home that evening. Our father’s death on an icy highway eight years earlier had shaken her, but she had resolved it to be God’s will. She also explained her marriage to Carl as a manifestation of God’s will.
As I sat alone in the gloaming, waiting for the headlights of her car to appear, I remember thinking that God was cruel. I felt nauseous. Beth found me staring into my lap. I couldn’t speak.
“Comfort your sisters,” she said.
We couldn’t live in the house after that. It is a part of the wound that is part of the silence, that is also part of the bond among Beth, and Marjorie, and Leslie and me.
Beth was determined that we would break and bleed no more than necessary. For the necessary she brought canvas and oils for Marjorie, who still paints beautifully when she paints. I recall an opaque convalescence—mercifully aided by the onset of spring—that lasted months until the day Marjorie asked Beth why she didn’t sing in her garden like she used to. Forthwith, Beth resolved to sing again. She chased our disappointments and sadness away as if with a stick, and when she grew tired we would then take turns impersonating her.
“Where is it written that we give up, Mrs. Harper?” we would chime. And she would smile. It was her smile that healed us, and set us free.
Next story segment, Spatula.