It’s August ten-ish years ago, and I haven’t slept in days.
I’ve spent a week with other people’s children, mulling over maybe making some myself. I’m sunburned, crisscrossed angry red lines on my scalp from the variation in my part from day to day. Camp songs still running through my head. I shouldn’t be driving, especially not this four hour drive I’m starting. But I have to.
Gravel roads and wind should mean the car windows stay shut. But it’s hot and I need the air to make me stay awake. I keep pushing the “seek” button on the AM radio, fruitlessly. Static whenever I stop scanning the dial.
As the car climbs the only hill in sight, the only hill for miles, the radio stops seeking, gets a hit.
There is a girl talking. She’s hosting one of those call in shows, where people try to pawn off their useless crap/treasures on other people. And this girl, overseeing it all, is making fun of the yokels, in a way the yokels probably won’t catch. And even if they did catch on, they couldn’t help but laugh at themselves, because she manages to do it in a way that makes you feel like she’s your friend, and she’s only teasing you because she loves you, and you’ll probably go for a beer later.
I know that I’m in Saskatchewan. I know that my sister is a small town radio DJ. But I shouldn’t be able to hear her from here. She’s in a town four and a half hours east and south. The clouds and the wind intervened, delivered her voice to me.
I keep driving, grinning at her suddenly here in my car. And then she’s gone. I’ve driven out of the range that this freak arrangement of air had gifted me.
I need to get home. I’m tired, I have a long, long way to go.
I need to have my sister in this car with me.
I turn around, drive back to the top of the hill.
I sit there, pulled over to the edge of the road. Windows open, a not so fine layer of dust starting to coat the dashboard. And I’m smiling and crying, because I can’t settle on either.
I miss her.
A childhood of competing and hating and jealousy and need and gut-searing fear had been drawn into a thin wire of relieved love and glances exchanged between those who made it through, and won’t ever be able to explain it to anyone else, ever, not really.
And just when I liked her, appreciated her, I left. She left, too.
If we wanted to see each other, we could. We could pick up the phone, be talking instantaneously. But we didn’t, always. Fucking “life”, getting in the way.
So I sat there in the car, ignoring fucking “life”, letting her talk without interruption. Revelling in the sensation of being with her, and at the same time missing her in a way that felt physical, like I was running around with a vital organ missing.
The wind shifted. The clouds broke. Her voice was gone.
I used the back of my hand to wipe the tears out of my eyes, put the car in drive, flipped the visor down, and headed west.
Thankful I had her, sad that I didn’t anymore, not really.
I miss her.