by Jessica Barksdale
Our bikes jangle like coins in the back of the station wagon. My mother drives on but doesn’t say another word.
No one does. My sister Sarah, my best friend Connie, and I press together in the backseat, clutch onto her last sentence.
Your father’s going to die.
Fat summer tires hum down the highway. The whirl of hot hair. Sounds of my sister’s quick breathing. Chlorine from our wadded up swimsuits in fabric bags.
Connie will let go of the words as if they were handlebars.
But Sarah and I are going to hold on all summer, till August when it’s 96 degrees, and my father bleeds out in his hospital room. On the television, Elvis’ funeral parade.
We’ll clutch and squeeze tight, while our younger sister gets sick and well and sick and then dies.
Sarah will give up and move across the world.
Me? I’m still in that station wagon, the bikes clacking. I’m still listening to my sister sniff, waiting for the answers we will never get. Searching for my father in the air that is already gone.