by Mary Ruth Pursselley -
The light was off, and Celeste’s room was black. Without a window, there wasn’t even enough light to see Celia crowded into the narrow bed next to her.
She could feel her, though. Celeste could hear the soft whisper of air and feel the blanket rising and falling as Celia breathed. She could smell her sister’s light fragrance—the ash-free cleanliness of Zirconia that still clung to her hair and skin. That was enough.
Celeste and Celia had shared a bed like this before Mom and Dad died. They’d both complained about the crowdedness then, but now Celeste cherished it. The miserable loneliness was gone, chased away by her sister’s presence. She could almost believe they were back in their old house, Mom and Dad asleep in the next room.
Celeste snuggled deeper into her pillow. She still wasn’t happy about Celia leaving school and deceiving some unsuspecting archaeologist into coming here. But, she decided with a long sigh, there was absolutely nothing she could do about it now, not until the poor fellow arrived, anyway. Then she’d have to try to explain and apologize and hope he wasn’t too outraged. What had Celia been thinking?
The bed squeaked as Celia rolled over. “You awake?” she whispered.
Celeste grinned into the dark, her annoyance forgotten. “Nope. I’m sound asleep dreaming of pot roast,” she replied, quoting Dad. He’d always said that whenever they’d gotten scared and crept into their parents’ room to ask if they could sleep with them.
Celia giggled. “Oh wow, I hadn’t thought about that in ages!”
“Remember the time that beetle screeched right outside our window and scared us half to death?”
“Or the time our bed frame collapsed in that tremor?”
Celeste laughed. “I remember.”
Celia scooted closer and put her arm over Celeste. “I’ve missed you so much, Lessie,” she whispered. “I can’t wait ’til we can be together again… all the time.”
Celeste said nothing as Celia sighed and went still. What could she say? Celia was completely convinced that at some point things were just going to magically fall into place for them. It was like she couldn’t see the obvious truth: that the real world simply didn’t work that way.
And yet Celeste couldn’t bring herself to say that. The fact that Celia could still hold on to hope after all this time was a miracle—at least, according to Celeste’s definition of miracles: something good that happened even though it had no realistic right to.
Celeste had occasional doubts as to whether letting Celia hang onto useless hopes and dreams was actually good…but she didn’t have the heart to extinguish this last little ray of sunlight. Not yet.