Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The floor falls away, but my house is small, and a chair is close. I fumble the envelope open.

Dear Misha,

My sister's neat, round writing blurs.

Dear Misha,

Mom has cancer. It's pancreatic. They're starting treatment right away, and they speak in hopeful voices, but I don't think she has much time. I'm sorry to send this news in the mail. Please come home soon.

The day stops. And isn't this what I feared--another bad thing?

I'm still shaking, but I reach into the cookie jar and pull out my cash.

It's time to see the Chief.

Monday, January 17, 2011

It's been five days since my sister's letter arrived, and I'm ready to phone her. But a call is expensive, and I don't know whether she'll be there, whether she'll answer. She must have a cell phone, but I don't have her number. This is ridiculous.

How long does it take to run these tests? How long until the results come back from the lab?

I'm knitting like a mad woman. I've stopped reading books. I'm desperate now for cash--and news. I could make another trip to Ushuaia, maybe find some kind of late-Autumn customers looking for pullovers or cardigans. But I don't want to leave and miss the mail.

I hear steps outside, and a quick knock, and Alex opens the door. A swale of health and energy.


I set my needles down.

"No, come on in. I'll make you some tea."

"I won't stay. I'm making the mail rounds today, and I brought you this."

The thin blue envelope looks extra fragile in his hand. I take it slowly.

"Good luck," he adds as he closes the door.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Saturday market--bushels of onions, squash, and more crab. The fresh vegetables dwindle, and I wonder what Henry and the others eat all winter.

Food is a simple distraction. I haven't heard again from Becky. I'm waiting, certain another letter must be on the way. I'm trying not to jump to conclusions, because my conclusions are always the worst. I'm trying and failing.

People mill among the stalls. I pay for my squash and start back up the hill, toward the Chief's house. The walk feels steeper today, harder. I haven't wanted to talk to him yet, not until I knew something for sure.

Why do I think I'll know anything for sure?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Stone silent, stone cold, bone empty, the air sucked out.

I read the letter again, and the questions yawn in front of me. What has happened since she sent this? What tests? How did they come out?

I read the letter a third time.

...if the news isn't good.

"Misha, what--?"

Lydia rushes from behind the counter.

Now I'm crying, and I can't stop.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I slit open the envelope, knowing I should write to my sister more often.

Dear Misha,

Mom isn't doing well. We went up to Seattle for some tests and are waiting to hear back, either an answer or more tests. By the time you get this, I might know something. If I do, I'll send it along.

But I wish you were here, and I hope you can find some way to get home if the news isn't good. I don't want to make a big deal if it's nothing, but I'm worried. Keep a prayer for us.



Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I have to turn over the postcard now.

Dear Misha,

Just wanted to say I'm thinking about you.

Heading next week to La Serena--not in the right direction yet.

How are things with you?

See you soon, I hope.

Still here,