Little Sister Sketch

by Elisabeth Beller

She faces me, one knee bent, a bare foot beneath her thigh, her pallor translucent against the garden's green. Her fine hair fans out across the cushion, up over the chair. A few strands curve across her face from damp brow to damp throat, trembling with each small breath, not quite invisible in the dappling light.

"Shhh," I say when the others notice her sleeping serenity. A small breeze bothers the hem of her dress, and the flutter makes her stillness absolute. Her hand, loosely curled below her belly, could hold her there a thousand years.

Once when she was small, she fell asleep - face up, head back, across our mother's lap - with limbs all lax and eyes that never closed. Another afternoon, I tiptoed to her while she napped. I held my breath and gently, gently touched her eyelid, raised it half, to look again into her blue-grey dream.

"Shhh," I say as I approach. And then I bend in close enough to see the glint between the lashes, to know that she is watching me. Now she unfurls - first lash from lash, then splaying fingers, pointing toes, with laughter, too, because she's drawn me in: she's at my circle's center once again.

Copyright © 1997
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