The Jacaranda leaves made patterns against the blue sky like paper cut-outs. Helena lay looking up thinking about all sorts of things. Not about school though, or Miss Richards who was always scolding her for not getting the three times tables right. No. The thing she was thinking now was about when she was waiting for her baby sister to arrive.
It was nearly dinnertime, and she and her mother were sitting on the back doorsteps. They were singing nursery rhymes together. They playfully changed the words so that the rhymes didn’t make sense; and laughed. Helena rested her head on her mother’s tummy just in case her sister wanted to talk to her. Somehow, she knew it was a girl and had dreamed up all the things she might teach her younger sister and thought of all the fun they would share. Not to mention the secrets.
‘Ssshhh,’ she whispered as she listened.
Suddenly, her mother howled. A sound like the cat made when Mr Rogers ran over it with his car. She grabbed Helena’s arm and her tummy rolled around like a slinky going downstairs. Helena’s head was thrown from her mother’s lap. She was scared, and her mother’s fingernails dug deep into her skin. It hurt. Another howl set Helena off crying thinking her mother would never stop.
She finally did and putting her arms around Helena her mother hugged her tight.
‘Wow, that was a somersault and a half.’ She kept her mouth closed when she talked and only her lips moved, so Helena could tell she was still hurting. Her mother cuddled her and rubbed the arm that she had scratched. Now that everything was alright was the best part of that memory.
But Helena never really felt like everything was alright again. No one would tell her about what happened. Why didn’t her sister come home from the hospital? Where had she gone? Had Helena frightened her, and in doing so sent her away?
Helena hunted everywhere hoping she might find her in the dreams around her but couldn’t. ‘So maybe she just didn’t like me, or didn’t even want to be here with me so went somewhere else?
Helena realised she was alone. But she searched and while she searched Helena knew her sister’s image was close like a shadow. She wasn’t sure whether she would find her and if she did, whether they would welcome each other.