Clouds the color of absinthe blotted out the evening sun, the air electric with thunderstorms yet to arrive. Marco stopped near the crabapple tree, the confetti of its spent blossoms littering the ruts where his daddy’s truck used to sit. The green Ford had disappeared weeks ago, along with his daddy, with no signs of return this time. His little sister, unaware of Marco’s eyes on her, twirled in the clearing, arms out. Though she would have spun all the same knowing she had an audience. As she gained momentum, Milly’s dirt-smudged dress seemed to buoy her, revealing her scraped-up knees. Her always-tangled fine hair gained altitude, making her look wild.
A siren screeched in the distance. Milly kept spinning, faster now, gathering in danger and freedom, a shimmery promise, her palms rotating up and down, fluttering invisible wings, as though she might get lift and fly off in the darkening sky. Always generating her own heat, her own light. Marco marveled, wishing some of her shine would spin his way.
Milly, lithe as a willow, toppled over in the grass, laughing, tipsy. Her chest heaving then slowing to the imperceptible grind of the earth. Heat lightning sparked the air, and branches swayed violently over his little sister on the ground. How small she seemed, how fragile. Their mother blew out of the house, hollering at Marco, the storm in her voice snapping him to. A twister had touched down. Milly lay static in the grass, seemingly lifeless. A deep rumble rippled through Marco. A sound like his daddy’s truck with fury never far behind. Marco bolted toward Milly, arms outstretched, and shouted her name. The sound of it swallowed by the night. She turned to him as if in slow motion, her smile beatific. He ran, time and space jumbled, her body just beyond his reach. So light, she levitated.
ELIZABETH FLETCHER — Elizabeth writes and teaches yoga in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Her work has appeared in Leaping Clear, Tiferet, The Nonconformist, Gone Lawn and more. Her website is www.esfletcher.com and you can find her on Twitter @esfletcher.
Art by JACQUELINE STAIKOS — Jacqueline is a largely self taught contemporary artist living in Quinte West, Ontario. She has exhibited her work in several Ontario galleries including shows in Toronto, Kingston and in New York City. Her creative process involves working with inks, acrylics, oils and mixed media. She is currently working out of her home studio in Trenton, Ontario. More of her art can be viewed on her website, jstaikos.org or on Instagram as jstaikosart.