Daughter (an excerpt)
She lay still and thought the sounds she heard were the beginnings of comfort. Thought she could feel the sea on the wind; the fall, falling of the waves. Wind sails riding the horizon. The cold wash of the ocean against the walls of her small room.
* * *
Emma’s mother straightened herself slowly, rubbing one hand along her lower back. She stood and adjusted the shoulder strap of the long canvas sack, half-full of cotton, and turned to look at Emma who ran toward her; then back to the row ahead. She squinted as the sun caught her eyes. Heat shimmered across the field. She lowered her head to tilt her wide-brimmed straw hat against the glare.
* * *
She lay still and the night moved past her. Branches brushed the window. She wondered, as a child, of fingers tapping at windows, of hands that reached out so softly to brush a cheek … but never moved away.
And the waves receded beyond the cliffs, beyond the trees.
* * *
Rows upon rows of cotton plants in the heat. Emma watched the pickers moving along the rows, filling their long trailing sacks. She rode the end of her mother’s cotton-sack, making patterns with her fingers in the dust. She daydreamed lazily as the sack grew softer and her mother’s pace slowed. She saw her sister running awkwardly behind them, heard her brothers arguing, and above her, her mother’s mild voice.
* * *
In the darkness she imagined the silence at the centre of the wind. Hoped for the sound of rain; counted hours, years. Saw the morning path leading away between the cliffs.