My sister and I live on either side of sixty. We've been mothers half our lives. Visiting her in Oregon, Ashland running a steady hundred degrees for days into weeks, we head to Lake of the Woods for the coolness of lake water and wind in the pines. Winding up the mountainside and back through our lives, our four children are never far from our conversation, like our own childhood—childhood, singular, as we shared it, for better or worse, till death do we part. One minute I'm driving my sister's Honda Fit through the forest; the next instant something bounces from the trees onto the road in front of me like a basketball, and that color, and stops. I try to. Even as I brake, hard, left fist gripping the steering wheel as I aim the car away from the fawn, my mother-arm has flung itself toward my sister to brace her for impact, and hers has reached across to brace me. Our hands meet in the middle, and hold. I notice her soft palm as the fawn stares at its fate, which, as the car finally stops, is to spring to action and bound away across the road. I release my sister's hand and we sit gasping for air, for words, peering into the forest shadows in hopes that the other mother is retrieving her child, and I drive on, that little spotted fawn planted firmly in my memory beside the texture of my big sister's soft hand.
Photo "New Friends" provided by Cindy Cornett Seigle, via Flickr creative commons license.
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