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Thunderstorms In January
Author's note: I don't really know I am a muscian and I guess I realize now how much music can heal.
It’s Monday, Mondays are the same every day in my house. Get up at 6:00am to get to school by 7:30am, make my breakfast and Melrose’s, Mom will say “You’re going to be late if don’t hurry, Vi.” Even though I’ve never been late for school a day in my life and she knows it. She says it because she thinks that, that kind of thing is what responsible parents do. Dad smiles at Mom from the kitchen table and goes on writing that’s what he does, writes. He writes books about all kinds of things, he writes articles for the local paper that’s what he likes to do.
Mom paints, she wants to paint things the way Georgia O’Keefe did, and when Dad’s in a mood, which is hardly ever she threatens to “Sweep up the girls and move to the southwest, never to return”. She would like that; to be out in the middle of nowhere with nothing but her paint supplies...
6:15am time to make breakfast for Mellie-Belle. Everyday it’s the same thing scrambled eggs with lots of garlic and salt, butter toast, and a glass of orange juice. Melrose eats the same thing every day for breakfast lunch and dinner. Sometimes Mom will try to get her to eat something else but it’s no use, Melrose is not rude or mean about she just does not like anything else. Like; today for example we’re out of eggs, I’ll have to pick some up on the way home, let’s see what she says today. Happy humming came from the stairs as Mel glided in her long, curly hair flowing down her back and looking the same as yesterday wild and unbound.
“Morning Mellie dear,” Momma called in a sing-song voice from the kitchen table.
“I used to love night best but the older I get the more treasures and hope and joy I find in mornings. ~Terri Guillemets,” Melrose replied happily, this is the way it always is, Melrose just can’t seem to find her own words to describe the way she feels but always knows someone who does.
“Early morning cheerfulness can be extremely obnoxious. ~William Feather,” I couldn’t help it and it does get annoying after awhile.
“Yes, but it can also make one excited for the rest of the day,” my Dad shot back with a smile.
“Who said that?” Rose’s eyebrow’s had knitted together as she tried to figure it out.
“I did.” Dad winked at her and left for his study.
“Here Mel, eat fast we have to go.” I told her as I set her toast down in front of her. She looked at it a minute then back to me confusion written plainly all over her face, Melrose always wears her heart on her sleeve even when she doesn’t mean to.
“Vi, where are my eggs?”
“Ummm,” I don’t think I’ll ever understand why Mel understands words of dead people than words spoken right there in front of her. Finding quotes that help her to understand some things is a bit of a challenge.“You can’t stay the same. If you are a musician you have to change that’s the way it works-Van Morrison?”
“It was ‘musician and singer’ I’m not a singer.” she replied with a sly smile stretched across her face. She thinks the oddest things are snarky.
I sigh.“We’re out. Eat, dork.”
My brother, Ryan, was the sun in my family’s life, we all orbited him, and everyone was perfectly content with that. But as of today we have lived six months in gray, that’s all I see anymore. That’s all I wear and all I hear. Really it probably wasn’t all that different before, considering we’re from Portland, Oregon. But when Ryan died the color just left everything in our lives.
I was the worst and my parents knew it, so in an attempt to put color back in my life they shipped me off to live with my Great Aunt Henri, her full name in all its glory is Henrietta Hayes Hamilton, but as you could imagine that’s a bit of a mouthful so she goes by Henri. Aunt Henri raised my mother after her parents died in a fire when she was four or five. My mom adores Aunt Henri; I’ve always loved Aunt Henri but let’s just say she’s got some screws that are just a little too tight. But, as tight as those too tight screws happen to be, here I am sitting on a noisy spring mattress inside of my mom’s old bedroom. With creamy colored walls, white wooden head board, and a mountain of hand sewn quilts it’s the picturesque southern bedroom for any girl, like the rest of the house. A white picket fence, big white porch and window shutters painted blue to keep “Haints” (bad spirits) out, and the same color ceilings to keep the carpenter bees from nesting. That is Aunt Henri, Southern Woman till death.
I sigh as pull on my black Chuck Taylors, a gray v-neck t-shirt and black jeans, getting ready for my first day at Lolum Community High School which is also the middle school, because Lolum, South Carolina is too small to need another building.
“Rae Leann! You better hurry if you want breakfast and a quality education!” That’s what Aunt Henri said, but this is how she actually said it;
“Rae Lee-Ann! You bedda hurry if you waunt break-fust and a qualit-ee edu-cashun!” Oh, Aunt Henri another sigh as I grab my worn canvas backpack and descend the creaky wooden stairs. Just as I reach the bottom of the stair case the floor comes reaching up for my face, I got my arms up just fast enough that I didn’t break my nose for my first day.
“Well good morning, Eleanor.” Eleanor, Aunt Henri’s old Great Dane lay on her side at the bottom of the stairs staring at me with bored eyes.
“Child, what on Earth are you doing on the floor?”
I scratched Ellie’s head, got up and brushed myself off.
“Oh, you know just making sure it still worked right.”
A pause, “Honey, you really are bad off aren’t you?” Aunt Henri’s peppered gray hair was pulled back into a pony tail, her warm brown eyes full of genuine concern.
“I’m fine, Aunt Henri.”
“Well, okay, your breakfast is on the table.”
In the South being a vegetarian is a lost cause because everything down here is deep fried and wrapped in bacon and of course I’d told Aunt Henri a thousand times I don’t eat meat. On, the breakfast table there was a mountain of bacon enough for four people and a plate eggs almost as mountainous.
“Uh, Aunt Henri, you don’t have any cereal or toast do you?” I asked tearing my eyes away from the funeral service laid out before me.
“Of course, sugar, but why would want any of that?” Aunt Henri seemed like she didn’t have any idea once so every as to why I wouldn’t eat the food on the table. Gosh, I hope she wasn’t going senile on me already.
“Aunt Henri, I don’t eat meat remember?”
“Oh Rae, I know you’d like it if you tried it!” she exclaimed.
I grabbed an apple off the counter and headed for the door.
“Rae, do you have the keys to Ole Blue?” Aunt Henri had caught my arm on the way to the door and put the keys in my hand.
“I do now.” I said dryly.Ole Blue was Aunt Henri’s 1966 Chevy pick-up. Everyone names their cars down here. I’m sure guys name their cars everywhere but it’s a lot worse here guys and girls name their cars. If you happen to miss a syllable in his or hers car’s name you just lost your two front teeth.
Welcome to Lolum, South Carolina.
As usual there were no good parking spots because most students, grades eight through twelve drive themselves to school.
“Look Vi Miss. Henri’s truck!” Mel said pointing two cars down from our spot. “Wonder what she’s doing here?”
“Remember Rose? Her niece is staying with her for awhile.” I’d almost forgotten myself. It’s so rare to have someone new. No one ever comes to Lolum they’re usually running away.
She’d just gotten out of her car. Miss. Henri had told me what happened she must be doing real bad to come during the school year. I could only see her from the side but she definitely stood out compared to the rest of Lolum even in black and gray. She had long reddish brown hair that fell in loose waves down her back and pale porcelain skin. I wondered if she had Miss. Henri’s kind eyes.
The day passed in a blur somehow I made it to seventh hour. As I sat down and tied my art smock I noticed someone sitting next to me. The new girl; she was beautiful but she didn’t have Miss. Henri’s eyes. Rae had emerald green eyes they were the coldest, saddest eyes I’d ever seen on anyone. She had purple bags beneath them as if she hadn’t slept in years. Her paint pallet was covered in gray, there were no blues or reds or greens, just grays and black. That was the best way to describe her. Gray.
Chapter 4~ Rae
My first day at Lolum hadn’t been a total bust. I only got lost twice and the second time I’d ended up in the boys’ locker room. I ate alone at lunch but I didn’t feel alone at all everyone in the room turned to gawk at me every five seconds. In P.E. I fell off the pull up bar and landed on the gym teacher. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone turn that shade of purple before.
But I made it to seventh hour alive. My seventh hour is Art. I used to love art. I used to love painting. But I don’t find anything in it anymore just painful memories of what used to be. A pretty blonde girl sits on my left; I was kind of staring at her there was something so alien about her like she didn’t belong in Lolum. She was staring at me too, when she realized we were both staring at each other she blushed,
“Hi I’m Vi,” she said the redness in her cheeks got a little redder as she spoke. Vi was wearing a pink and white plaid shirt, her shiny blonde hair came about four inches below her shoulders and her bangs smooth cut across her eyebrows maybe a little below. A style only a few people can work successfully. She had bronze skin like she’d lived here her whole life, she probably had. Vi had sleek, black rectangular glasses that hid icy blue eyes. Those were probably what made her look so foreign; they were almost too modern for Lolum.
I’d just begun to paint when I noticed her painting. It was exquisite. It looked like she’d painted a portrait of herself with longer curly hair sitting in front of what appeared to be a piano. Without even thinking I asked; “Is that you?” she jumped at the sound of my voice. I knew how that was; you get so involved in your work that you don’t hear anything or anyone until they’re right next to you peering over your shoulder.
“It’s my sister. She’s a sophomore.”
“Is that a piano? Does she play?”
“Melrose is a very good pianist and if anyone told you any different they’re wrong, all wrong.” She said it so defensively, and almost automatically, like she was used to defending her sister.
“I wasn’t trying to offend you. My brother played.” As I said it the hole in my heart burned around the edges. I’d used pass tense ‘played’, not ‘plays’. Even though Vi couldn’t possibly know it felt like I just told her my entire life’s story in three words, I’d let her into my walls. I’d been breached. I’d let this stranger in when I wouldn’t even let Aunt Henri in, this out of place girl with sleek black glasses and icy eyes.
My eyes were burning like they wanted to swell with tears but nothing was happening. Nothing was happening. I can’t even cry about my own brother’s death. What’s wrong with me?
Rae had been talking to me a little when I started painting she asked me some questions about my painting of Rose. She asked me about the piano I was painting behind her; I automatically assumed she was trying to find out if she was crazy like everyone says. Melrose is not crazy. She’s just different. If people in this ridiculous town saw more of people like Mellie…well, they’d be better off. She’s just as able as anyone.
When, I looked back at Rae her green eyes were dark, like she was going to cry but with no tears. She had this blank expression on her face that made me want to hug her. She seemed so lost.
“Rae? Are you okay?” my voice pulled her out of her trance; she flinched and stared at me for second more. Before Mrs. Fir came over and began telling her about her requirements.
I wonder what made her go into that place. Miss. Henri had told me what happened to her nephew. He died in a car accident, last winter. Her whole family was in the car. Everyone except Ryan had made it out. Miss. Henri says that Rae blames herself for the whole thing. I guess she was driving when it happened. She and Ryan were really close, I can’t even imagine that happening to Melrose and I.
Before I knew it the bell had rung. And students were filing out of the art room. Rae was the first out the door. There were no tears falling from her eyes. But, her shoulders were shaking, and she was wheezing.
“Rae! Are you okay?” I followed her toward the doors that led to the students parking.
She turned her head back to stare at me a few moments and said “Just. Leave. Me. Alone.” She wheezed and huffed after every word. Before I could say anything else she bolted.
That poor girl, how could anyone be so alone? In a strange way she reminded me of Mel. Melrose was always in her own world. Away from the rest of us, I always find myself wrenching her from the piano and pulling her back to the rest of us. She functions fine here. But under the lights is where she belongs. I don’t mean surgical lights or anything; stage lights, performing for hundreds of thousands. That’s where Melrose belongs up on stage sharing her gift with anyone who was willing to listen.
Melrose did a recital once. The lights worked against her. She froze and then she broke. They her in place she did not move and she did not blink. But, worst of all she didn’t play. She was so embarrassed. She practiced constantly non-stop, for the next three weeks. In fact that’s what she’s doing now. I have to go get her out of the music wing. She’ll still be practicing.
If I had wings I’d fly so far away not even the fastest, strongest bird, could ever catch me, or find me. A place where there was so much color and light that even a blind man could see the beauty and feel the peace and happiness that fills this place. And, there would be pianos, everywhere, big ones little ones, ones with open tops, and uprights, and keyboards. That would be my heaven. A place without pain or cares just music and light.
People look at me they talk, I hear them, they say things that don’t make sense to me but I don’t care anymore, I don’t think I really ever did. It bothers Vi a lot sometimes she yells at them. Vi is my beautiful older sister my only friend. She has long blonde hair (like mine except mine’s curly like Momma’s) and she has big blue eyes, she doesn’t smile the way she used to when we were little. I wonder why, I hope it’s not me; I hope I’m not making her sad. I asked her about it once she said;
“Mellie-Belle, don’t you listen to them they’re all wrong, they just don’t understand you like Momma and Daddy and I do. Don’t you listen, you understand?” I didn’t understand what she meant. I didn’t think I should ask.
There’s only one thing that doesn’t really confuse me, in fact it’s the only thing that makes perfect sense to me. Music.
You have to feel, to see; there are some people who like to compare music to math they say it’s just an equation; they’re wrong all of them. I’m not quite sure how to describe it but Aldous Huxley said it the best I think,
“After silence that which, comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
“Melrose, we have to go to Miss. Henri’s now.” Suddenly, Vi was there with her hand on my shoulder
It was pouring outside. Ole Blue wouldn’t start until almost all the cars were out of the parking lot. Which probably wasn’t entirely a bad thing, I couldn’t breathe. I was shaking, why couldn’t I just cry? What kind of person feels nothing, after they kill someone? A psychopath, I’d looked up before. They have no conscience, no feelings, and no remorse for their actions. They are lazy, and selfish, I am all those things.
When I get a hold of my body, and forget about my mind I lost that long ago, I drive back to Aunt Henri’s. I’d planned to park in the driveway but someone was there. So I parked on the street, as I was walking up the front path, I heard it. The music it’s hard to describe the way he played. I remember but I don’t want to, not at all. That effortless, heartbreakingly beautiful way he played.
I want to march into the house and tell whoever it is to stop. I want to march in there and smash that stupid, stupid piano into little itty, bitty pieces. But I can’t, I’m lost in it, it’s unbelievable this person is playing with the essence that will haunt me to my death. I slowly walked onto the creaky porch and opened the screen door that led to Aunt Henri’s foyer. Off to the left was the entrance to the parlor. The haunting melody melted over me like thick dark honey, it smothered me.
True emotion many say is a beautiful thing. I don’t agree with that statement in the slightest, it terrifies me. It should terrify everyone something so pure and raw and completely uncontrollable, it consumes. Like it did to the girl playing Aunt Henri’s old upright, she moved and swayed with the piece unable to hear or see anything but the keys in front of her. She had wild curly blonde hair that fell half way down her back. The room was empty except for the girl, me and the music.
She stopped so suddenly that it scared me. The pianist turned to look at me and shouted, “’Forgiveness is letting go of the past’ ~Gerald Jampolsky’!” Her face was red and she scratched at her neck where an ugly, red cluster of scratches already were. Then she turned and continued playing. Her words shocked me, like she’d just slapped me.
“Melrose? Melrose!” suddenly another blonde girl was there wrenching her hands from the keys. “Mel, that was rude! You can’t go around saying things like that.” I recognized her, it was icy eyes Vi. Melrose, stared at her as if she heard nothing she said Melrose fidgeted you could tell she wanted to continue playing. As if it hurt her to not be.
Vi gave up trying to talk to her and let go of her wrists. “I’m sorry, Rae she must’ve heard us talking.” I was still staring at Melrose, she’d gone back to playing that haunting melody that made my heartache, and it was hard to focus,
“Heard you talking about what?”
Vi looked a little apprehensive about telling me, “Miss. Henri told me about what happened to your brother. I was worried about you when you left class like that.” She did what? What made her think she had the right to do such a thing? I was as angry as I was shocked. How could someone care about a stranger enough to come to their house and check on them? I knew her for forty-five minutes!
There was so much I wanted to say to her, yell at her, but all I said was, “You shouldn’t have done that.” I left the room walking like the zombie I’d become accustomed to the past six months. Went to my room and buried myself under the pillows and blankets. I could still hear the music so pushed my face as far into the mattress as it would go; and screamed. It felt good the screaming, though it changed nothing. The words Melrose spoke were not true. I did not deserve forgiveness.
Three mistakes were made the night that Ryan decided to have a recital. That was also the night of the most important art show I could ever possibly imagine entering. My parents forced me to miss it; all I can remember thinking is that this was is his fault.
I never understood why other people liked my art, I knew why I did. It amazed me in fact, these people bought some of my pieces, and this art show a recruiter was coming to see my work, whether it’d be possible to make it more than a “hobby”. But, I never got to go to that big show. They made me go to Ryan’s recital and the worst mistake my parents will ever make in their lives’; they made me drive. Mistake number one.
My parents hate driving in the rain; living in Seattle we get a lot of it this night was no exception. Ryan had a classical music station playing, and was hunched over his lap in the passenger seat rocking back in forth with the music. He was crinkling the suit that my father had lent him. His tie was tied in a double knot, and he was wearing bright orange knee socks with blue Converse. The suit was black as coal.
The rain was pouring I could barely see, and that made me somewhat happy. If no one came there wouldn’t be a concert and that meant that there probably wouldn’t be an art show. This meant that it would have to be rescheduled and I didn’t actually miss out on one of the biggest events of my life, so I sped up. Mistake number two.
Even with my newly restored hope, I was still furious at Ryan. When, I noticed long, delicate fingers reaching for the volume knob on the radio.
“No, Ryan.” I snapped and swatted his fingers away.
He grunted and looked at me with a frown then again reached for the knob.
“I said no!” I yelled at him. He didn’t listen and proceeded to turn the volume all the way up.
“Rae.” My mother murmured from the backseat. I ignored her.
“Ryan!” I jerked his hand away from the radio. Mistake number three.
The same amount of time it took me to rip my baby brother’s hand away from the radio, it took for me to kill him. The passenger side of our car was destroyed when we collided with a pick-up truck. The doctors said that because of the angle he was hit, he was killed on impact. There was no pain.
What about what was left over?
“Oh, Miss. Henri, this is awful.” I said after hearing another muffled scream come from the bedroom. The odd moaning mixed with the music, made me want to cry.
“I know, sweetie, we can’t do anything though. If people could fix all, there would be nothing to fix.” Miss. Henri was peeling potatoes at the kitchen counter; I stood between rooms, listening to the music.
“Why is she screaming Miss. Henri?” I asked. The sound was heartbreaking. She set her current potato down and looked at me. Miss. Henri’s normally kind brown eyes were filled with a kind of sadness that you can only find in people who have known true heartbreak.
“‘As we free our breath we relax our emotions and let go our body tensions.’ Who said it Mellie?”
“Gay Hendricks.” Melrose replied without pause in her playing.
“When was he born?”
“Did he go to college?”
“He went to Stanford University and graduated in 1974, after receiving his PhD.” Melrose answered like she was reading from a textbook. She could memorize anything that you sat in front of her, especially quotes and obviously music.
I stood next to Miss. Henri, and began slicing the potatoes into chunks. All I could think about was Rae, and what Mel had said. Rae was in a place where nobody could reach her. Kind of like Melrose; but still I couldn’t help but think what Rose had said was true. Rae didn’t deserve this. How could she blame herself for something that was a complete, freak accident? “Miss. Henri, why does she blame herself for this?” I asked hesitantly, “I mean she just has got to know somewhere inside her that it’s not her fault, right?” She began gathering up the potatoes and putting them in a pot for dinner.
“Her parents told me why they thought she thought it was her fault. Rae’s never told anybody, why. Only that it is. I’ve tried to talk to her, Jenny thought I could help. Jenny’s Rae’s momma I think you’ve met her haven’t you?” I had. Jenny is a real sweet lady with a smile on her face almost all the time. I can’t imagine how she feels after this.
“Well, I don’t think that she was thinking about Rae when she sent her here. The problem with Rae is that she doesn’t know what to do now and-”
“’Come to the edge’ he said. ‘We are scared’ they said. ‘Come to the edge’ he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew. ~ Guilliaume Apollinaire ‘”
Miss. Henri had that sad look on her face again. “Mel, it’s rude to interrupt people.” I scolded, half-heartedly. She began playing louder, as if to tune me out. I sigh.
Miss. Henri chuckled and gave me a sad smile and said, “She’s right. She’s always right. I just might have to push her.”
I didn’t sleep all night. I vaguely remember Aunt Henri bringing a plate of food in it still sat there untouched when my alarm clock went off at 7 A.M. I got up, I don’t understand the point of it, but I did. I guess I owe it to Aunt Henri to make some kind of effort. After getting dressed I trudged down stairs avoided Eleanor, and went straight to the fridge. Aunt Henri was sitting at the table, reading the paper and eating a very un-vegetarian breakfast.
“Morning.” I said rather bleakly.
“You are driving to Melrose and Vi to a soloist contest in Charleston on Friday.” She said without lifting her eyes from the paper.
What, I thought. “What?” I asked.
“I’m sure I was speaking the English language. Which I know for a fact you speak quite well; it’d be nice to hear your voice once in a while, darlin’” It breaks my heart to look at that stupid piano in the parlor but sit for hours listening to one. And I still have a hard time driving at night, and to a piano recital? No way. “I don’t think that’s good idea.”
“You haven’t thought in months, Rae, you better eat quick, Vi is picking you up today.”
“What about Ole Blue?”
“I’m going to the market today.”
“Aunt Henri-“she cut me off.
“’Come to the edge’ he said. ‘We are scared’ they said.’ Come to the edge’ he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew,’” She put her dishes in the sink grabbed me by the elbow and said, "that is Guilliaume Apollinaire.’He pushed them and they flew.' Well I'm pushing you, Rae Leann. And you are gonna fly again." With that I was out the door and heard the bolt click into place behind me. A little blue Saturn arrived outside seconds later. This was going to be a long week.
As I sat down in the backseat of the little car, icy-eyes Vi said, " I hope you didn't think I was stalking you last night. Your aunt used to give Mel lessons and we come every day." She smiled sweetly at through the rearview mirror.
"I kind of did."
"'There's a fine line between support and stalking let's all stay on the right side of that. ~ Joss Whedon'" , Melrose said quite seriously.
Laughing Vi said, "Yes, let us all stay on the right side of that line." We rode in silence the rest of the way to school.
I'd never thought of the kids here in Lolum as the stereotypical Southern kids. You know, ignorant, obnoxious? Until on Wednesday I was forced by order of Queen Henrietta Hayes to eat with Vi and Melrose. Melrose was a really sweet girl, they both were. Vi was very down to earth and relaxed just about anywhere she went, except for when people got to talking about Mel.
We'd just begun to eat lunch when a boy I was vaguely familiar with came over to our table and very loudly and openly informed me this, "You know, new girl, you got quite the seat. A front row seat in fact, of Lolum's best side-show attraction!" As he spoke Vi slid closer to Melrose and her face turned to stone.
"What is your problem, Cam?" Vi spat at him. The laughter stopped at this.
"We don't get fresh meat very often and just want to make sure that you don't get your claws too deep into her." Cam said with a smirk I just wanted to reach up and slap off his face.
“I think that I’ll decide who get their ‘claws’ too deep into me.” I stood up and began to gather my things.
“Just warning you, new girl.” He winked at me sauntered off. Everyone in the room was staring at us and whispering or snickering I’m not sure the difference anymore. That ignorant, mean, teenage boy had set a fire underneath me. Fire is something I haven’t felt in a long while. And it feels good,
“Melrose, do want to go play with me?”
“Yes.” Was all she said and the first word she spoke to me without quotations before and after.
“Rae we can’t right now. After school sure or even seventh hour Mel doesn’t have one,” I looked at her. “It will look worse if we go.” Her face look worried and she looked a lot older than she was.
“Come on, Mel.” I said and did my best interpretation of a smile. She jumped up and skipped to the cafeteria doors.
As I sat down behind Melrose in the music room, just the sight of thing made my heart rate speed up and my palms sweat, it gave me a queasy feeling. Ryan used to play for hours and hours and I’d never get tired of hearing him no one did. I gave up music after he died. Melrose played just like him, the way she swelled with the music and the tilt of her head. It was beautiful.
“Rae, we can’t be in here!” A voice hissed behind me. Vi was standing uneasily by the door and looked rather pale. “Seriously.” I was kind of getting high off the music; I’d forgotten how addictive it could be.
“Vi, I need this.” That was all it took she sat next to me and listened to the music.
Listening to the music was a step for me. You’d think that driving would’ve been the hardest, but it wasn’t, music and being around music like things, was the hardest. My random shaking had begun to decrease the more I hung around the Humphrey girls. But thunderstorms I just can’t handle them or driving at night.
And what do you know, in the middle of January in South Carolina, on a Friday night there was a thunderstorm. That I was being forced to drive, to a piano recital, with someone who so much like my little brother in so many ways that- well it’s hard. I was standing by the window my breath coming in short bursts, my fists were shaking. “Aunt Henri I can’t do this.”
“Child, of course you can.” She rested her chin and my shoulder and gave me a quick squeeze.
“Aunt Henri.” I was doing that stupid shaky, wheezing thing and my eyes were burning. She spun me around and stared at me with those warm brown eyes I’d always been jealous of.
“I’m pushing you, Rae, you need to do this.”
“I know.” I stared at the ground. She helped me get my coat on Mel and Vi were already in the truck. “You’re gonna fly, sweetheart.” I laughed a short nervous laugh, and I cried. I cried well and I cried hard. I’d never cried about it before, not ‘it’ him; those tears told it was time to forgive.