The last time I saw Juteau cry was in October. Truthfully, I didn’t see her crying, but I saw the aftereffects: the smear of mascara trailing like dirty rainwater down the side of an abandoned building, the eyes as red as a desert sunset. She didn’t want to talk about it, and I didn’t want to press her. I put her to bed with a glass of water and three peanut butter cookies, and in the morning she was fine.
The last time I saw Bez cry was three days ago. Her lipstick was a purple so dark that it was black, and her dress was backless and sheer. She didn’t need to talk about it, because I was there when it happened, and they weren’t tears of sadness, so that was alright then. I put her to bed with me and my hunger, and in the morning she was fine.
I am crying this morning. I wake from a dream that I am drowning, and that my father is trying to save me but that I am trapped beneath the water as though I am behind a sheet of glass. No matter how hard he slams his hands against the glass-water, he can’t reach me, and I sink deeper and deeper into the water, losing the light, losing the sound of his hands splashing as he tries to reach me, until I sink down into the darkness and the light completely vanishes from sight.
The sun isn’t up when I wake breathlessly from my drowning. The message light on my phone is flashing blue, and I see that while I have been sleeping, Nikola has left a text. I delete it without reading it and put my phone face-down onto the bedside table.
I don’t cry when I throw Nikola’s message into the void, and I don’t cry when I think of my father trying to rescue me from drowning for a second time in my life, and failing to do so.
What makes me cry is when Bez moans once, and then once more, and in her sleep whispers a name that I know she would never utter if she were awake. I don’t need the light to find the small scar above her right breast that is the reflection of her marriage to a moment in time that she cannot be divorced from. I want to put my hand over the scar, but I am afraid that if she is drowning in her own black water of memory, an intrusion into that sacred space might be seen as another attack, and so instead I put my arm around her waist and hold her tightly against me. She tenses for a moment, and then falls slack as a rag doll.
She will never be hurt again, if I can help it.
No one who lives in my house ever will be.
We are sisters in fragility, but there is strength in numbers.