As she had led me through the caravans I’d seen faces in and out of focus in my shaky field of vision. Carnival people, fire eaters, men with monkeys on their shoulders, and women in sequins with dark dramatic eyebrows and painted mouths. All eerie, all unreal, but I sensed them protectively surrounding us as we made our way to the Gypsy’s trailer, where it was finally quiet, and she was the only one with me for a long, long time, until the police finally came.
How is it that strangers can be the most comfort to us? Their unexpected and genuine kindnesses catching us vulnerable and off guard? The gypsy’s gentle but firm hand with me as her first aid kit and long needle and thread had appeared on a table – similar to one I had sat around minutes before.
I remember my whimper. I remember her singing very softly to me a strange melody – the minor notes taking my mind off and away from my pain. I cried but only softly as she had stitched in the memory, and given me my jagged Gypsy scar.
But as my wound began to heal and the trial had approached, my friend’s and family’s faces had looked queerly at me at me – the survivor, I was called, not the victim. My mind had worked hard to push away my wondering: What I could have done differently to save Lucy, so her eyes would never have closed? My court testimony had been short, my indictment of Allsweld as a monster certain, my guilt over Lucy’s death overpowering.
I stop a sob that struggles in my throat. I watch Bette stretch to pull down different ceramic containers for Dana’s ashes.
Memories are rarely inescapable, their knowing impossible to doubt for long, and there are so many here in this kitchen, everywhere in this house, and all over my skin.
The blue one is yours, Tina. Hey, are you alright?” Bette’s voice brings me back. She’s seen my sadness.
“Oh, of course, use it for Dana.” I lean over the Starbucks cup and lift the lid. “Alice, you know there are black ants in here eating the leftover milk and sugar.”
“I don’t know what to do about it! Shane says we should dump her ashes in a pot of boiling water to kill the ants,” Alice says frantically.