Saturday, October 14, 2006

Alone Now

She was trying to calm her little sister. They were alone now, the four of them, but the two younger sisters had only themselves.

The little one, three, was moving away from the center, which was the kitchen, a sump of surrounding spirals of a winding path leading with flat walls to the upper reaches of the house. You followed the path which coiled like smoke up to the bedrooms. You were in clear sight all the way up because the walls lay on a level with the corridor between them.

She was trying to calm her little sister, but she herself wasn't calm. The older ones, her brother and her sister in their twenties, intended dumping the youngsters, she knew. They were going to Rouen, and then they would place the two little kids somewhere, maybe an orphanage, maybe worse, and they would then move to Paris and live together as husband and wife. She had heard them whispering in the house without walls, their excitement overriding their caution.

She did not even understand how a brother and sister could ever be at the same time husband and wife. But right now she had to soothe the younger one, so she hurried after her, winding on the floor slanted like a dish.

She could not see her in the bedroom. And then she did. She was curled in the bed of Josetta, their Husky mix. Where was Josetta? She hadn't been seen since the strangers came to tell them they were alone now.

She tried to coax her out of Josetta's bed, but there was trembling in her voice. The little one lay very still. Maybe she is hoping all this will go away.

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