From The Braid
. . . The
bay was still. Moonlight on the water made a path from our
Scottish sea to –where? Where, I wonder, will we all be eating
supper in two months’ time? One year? I linked arms with Sarah,
the way we’ve done since we were small, sitting and watching on
that rock. Then we dipped our hands into the sea and touched our
tongues to the seawater, each of us swallowing a bit.
Canada seemed far away, the salty sea so close, our
journey not yet started. We walked back home. Hush now, Sarah said,
they’ll be asleep. So they were, but we were wide awake when
we went to our bed. I took the hairbrush from the wooden
bench, and sat by Sarah, brushing out her long thick hair. Oh,
Jeannie . . . Sarah whispered. I can’t . . . She drew in her breath. Then . . .
Goodnight. (Or did she say goodbye?) She loosened my braids, held
them in her hand, and brushed my hair so hard – I should have known.
But how could I? Then Sarah braided my hair with her own,
close and tight, so our heads were touching. We started laughing.
Will you girls go to sleep? It’s near morning! Father called. Like two
cats curled together, we slept that night. Or – did Sarah sleep?
She must have stayed awake until I slept. She must have had
her sewing scissors tucked into her pocket. Sarah knew
where she was going. I woke to no warm place beside me.
She’d cut the braid close to our heads, tucked half into my hand –