Sophie giggles, a sweet noise reflecting on her youth. I, being her eldest sister and having given myself the task of watching over her, sit perched on a rock not three feet away, watching her closely.
I pop a blueberry into my mouth, the plump skin giving way to a mouthwatering taste that warms my mouth. Blueberries have always been my favorite.
“Want one, Soph?” I ask, holding out our last handful left we have left after raiding our neighbors, the Henderson’s, farm.
Sophie stands up from the patch of grass she had been playing in and jumps onto me, throwing a tiny arm around my neck. As she helps herself, I survey our front lawn.
The sun is setting, casting the perfect dimming glow on what little grass we have left after some pest or another devoured it. Luckily, they left Mama’s rose bushes alone, and the roses cascade over the gate separating our house from our land, making our house seem, to me, beautiful and sophisticated.
Tiny little lightning bugs are leaving their daytime hide-outs, marking their paths with sudden bursts of light. I watch them trail across the sky, and wonder where they’re going. I have a sudden image of the lightning bugs gathering in a beautiful meadow, sipping tea like royalty, and can’t help but laugh a little.
Our land is so perfect, I think, not for the first time.
Sophie nudges me, impatient, and shows me the last blueberry. She smiles that mischievous smile only she could ever master, and whispers, “Prepare to be amazed, Laura,” in her soft little voice.
She cups the blueberry in the palms of her hands, and in the blink of an eye, she’s holding two blueberries. Another blink, and she has four, eight, until both her hands are filled to the brim.
I remember the first time she pulled a trick like that with a rush of fondness. Mama, Sophie, and I had been making cookies and ran out of eggs. Mama was just going to send me over to see if we could borrow some from the Henderson’s, whose chickens laid them an endless supply, when Sophie put her hands on Mama’s. Then there were two eggs in Mama’s hands, and she was so surprised she dropped them both.
“Mama, what’s wrong?” Sophie had asked, upset by Mama’s reaction.
Mama didn’t look like she would be talking again anytime soon, so I answered for her, in the best way a ten year old girl could, saying, “Sophie, you’re a superhero! My sister’s a superhero!”
Mama got over her shock and smiled at my childish words, though she didn’t say otherwise. Sophie couldn’t make more eggs without one to begin with, and I ended up going to the Henderson’s anyways.
I grin, as duly expected, and say, “I think that’s a new record! Are you going to give them to your friends again?”
Sophie nods and her smile grows. When she was younger, Mama had worried there was something wrong with Sophie. While the other babies at the nursery would cry and fret, Sophie just lay there, her colorless eyes following nothings in the air. It was unnatural, seeing her gaze intensely focused on nothing, and nearly drove seven year old me to tears with the confusion of it. Now, four years later, I’ve gotten used to it, and no longer flinch anytime I catch her watching her friends.
Still nestled into my lap, Sophie tosses the blueberries in the air, and I watch as they seem to hesitate, midflight, before disappearing one by one.
Sophie c***s her head to the side, listening intently to things I cannot hear. “Laura, they like you! They wish you could see them, too!”
“So do I,” I say with a smile. I feel only slightly foolish talking both to Sophie and thin air.
A breeze rushes by, blowing Sophie and I’s matching blonde hair and settling delicate pink and purple flowers in each.
“Laura, Sophie, it’s time to come in,” Mama calls from the kitchen, “I’ve got dinner waiting!”
Sophie jumps up from my lap, leaving me feeling strangely cold, and rushes inside. Her lithe steps seem carefully choreographed, as a dancers, moving to a noise regular folks like myself can’t hear, try as we might.
I sit a bit longer, straining my hazel eyes to see something they’re missing. And maybe it’s a trick of the dying light, but far off, past the rolling hills bathed in gold, I can almost see a tiny figure, drifting away into the sunset.