Audacities and insecurities flood from between her lips and tidal wave across the dining room table, flowing onto our laps. Cold, cold winter water. My older sister pleading to my mother, deluging her despairs and drifting us all out to sea. I sat silently.
Like looking at a reflection on the tension of the water but not past it, I noted her shallow eyes and blinking patterns and knew those dark pools did not run so deep. For I am the abyss in the family. A stagnant, placid lady of the lake with depths dark enough to mask the sunken bow and brails and endless debris and ruin of all that ever dwelled there or voyaged through. I am a reservoir.
I have compassion for her. But her voice did not match the words streaming from her mouth. I have heard chasms and fissures and felt anchors and the pressures. The weight. The riptides. The fear of the unseen, the lost, the tarnished, the disintegrated, the squandered, the submerged. The plummet. And I’ve had ten less years than she to feel it. I have always envied her surface structures.
You don’t have to be scared, mommy.
Taking her hands and looping them through my resting arms on the table, my niece gently squeezed me as she spoke to her mother across the expanse. The gesture was soft, but the current strong.
Cheri told me at my soccer try-outs that there’s never any reason to be scared because being scared doesn’t change anything and all it means is that you’re not believing in yourself enough. Right?
All faces aligned towards me and I looked into my sister’s shallow eyes in my niece’s deepening face and wondered if she, too, were a reserve. I wondered what trials, tribulations and tributaries she may be the source for someday. I wondered if she were a rivulet or a river. I smiled, winked and pinched her nose.
That’s right, kiddo.