Cassandra’s Tears

Tears of joy, tears of pain, we are reflected in the salt-water pools we create. So let us build a fleet of paper boats and sail them on our ocean of indecision, laughing at the wind-whipped white-crested waves that would wash over us, drowning us in our own despair, yet somehow never vanquishing us in the end.

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Location: Lennoxville, Quebec, Canada

Friday, December 23, 2005

The last time I saw her…

The last time I saw her she was wearing a flowered summer dress and a straw hat, her honey-coloured hair hanging down her back and over her shoulders in ringlets, her feet clad in open sandals and a basket of berries hanging from her arm. She was standing beside the road, picking the wild blackberries growing among the service berry trees, her fingers stained, popping a ripe black-lobed fruit between her purple-stained lips every so often.

It was a hot day, summer already on the wane. Yellowjackets buzzed around the ripened fruit, but she did not mind them. As I recall, she was not deterred by much, not by stinging insects, nor spiders, nor by worms in the garden. She could pick up hot pots and dishes with her bare hands and cleaned out drains by plunging her fingers into disgusting sludge. That always grossed me out, but to her it was business as usual.

I never saw her again. That evening a deer crossed the road in front of her car and she tried to avoid hitting it, only to spin out of control into an oncoming vehicle. The medics said she was already dead when they arrived at the scene, her neck broken. The other driver, in a pickup truck, was unhurt, and there was no sign of any injured deer.

I shall always miss her. Every time I see honey-coloured curls or a flowered dress, my heart leaps in my breast until I remember she is dead. How can I forget? Father was never the same after. My brother and I eventually grew up and moved away to make our own lives, but that spot our older sister occupied has always been vacant, like a wound that won’t heal. Summer ended that day and winter has not yet ceased.


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