She waited until dusk to tell me how her mother had left them, the five sisters and their father. We sat on towels at Kailua beach while the sun bruised the sky and sand whipped into our hair. Then it was cold. And she told me the worst part. How, years later, her mother had come home and demanded to be a family again, and the father had relented, joined the military, and moved them all to this tiny island where no one knew what had happened.
We were seventeen.
I had met her older sister earlier that month, and was a little smitten with her. She was lovely trouble and held my hand against her pregnant belly to feel the rapid kicks within. We would visit the sister in the hospital after the child was born, in the hour when he would be taken. Adopted. My friend’s eyes were fierce and she made it out of the hospital room, and halfway down the hallway before she collapsed against me, sobbing. “Get me out of here,” she said, and I took her into the stairwell as though we could outrun it. Her terrible grief.
I wish I had told her that I was in love with our friend. I wish I had shared vulnerability with her. I think, of all of us, she would have been the most likely to understand. She probably suspected. This morning I realized the sister had driven a jeep, and had ringlets. Kailua beach, a jeep, ringlets, a hospital, a vanishing mother. I had never put any of it together before. What a strange apology my first book is. I had so much to tell her, then, yes, and now. If only the words had gone together the way I’d wanted. If they’d expressed things for me.