A Morning Place
by Susan Kornfeld
Hoihoi was a morning place. That’s what the girls liked to say about the cliff-top bach. Summers meant breakfast in a lounge drenched in sunlight while far below, the Torongi River flashed its way past the village to the sea. Seagulls woke us with their accusing, assertive voices and winds plied the cliffs. Hoihoi is Maori for noisy. Most mornings you might as well not talk.
It’s the place I think of, though, when I think of the girls. Golden Melanie with her crayons and chalks. So easy to love. Gilda, the older sister, always watching. Sunlight and shadow. I keep Melanie’s picture on the bureau. Graeme took the family portrait when he left. So there was a space.
Gilda just bought a house in Timaru. I know because she sent me an email about the blue flowers that used to line the front deck. They’re Forget-me-nots, I wrote back. It wasn’t true. They were some sort of borage. But I never want her to forget.
Gilda, like a ghost, white T and shorts, no shoes, running with her arms full of air and wet with rain. Where’s your sister, I asked. The wind took her words.
What I did hear: the sound of a lone seagull. “Fall, fall,” it screamed. “Lie, Lie.” Graeme blamed me, but I hadn’t been the one holding Melanie’s hand. I would have remembered that. Gilda’s words never returned. They are too ashamed, I said, to come back.