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At The End Of Summer
In summer, the marshes in Florida are warm-cool, and sticky, filled with bugs and birds that fly through the syrup, and like to bite anything they see. Tonight is a full moon, and we can see the bats silently circling above us, and the minnows jumping and swimming under our feet. If we stand perfectly still, the minnows will come real close, and nibble on our toes. It tickles, a bit, them chewing away all our dead skin.
Lilith is wearing a white dress – her best Sunday dress, really, the one Momma likes, with the flowing white lace and pink silk ribbons. She says it makes her feel like a sacrificial virgin, but I don’t know what that is. She says that it’s an innocent young girl, like the ones that get fed to monsters in the movies Peter likes, but we both know that Lily is far from innocent.
I’m just wearing the clothes from yesterday, that way when Momma finds them on the floor, she’ll just think they got dirty yesterday, when I was playing. But when she finds Lily’s white Sunday dress, muddy and wet on Lily’s floor, she’ll be real mad.
Lily said she was gunna keep her dress clean, but it’s hard to keep clean clothes when you’re walking through Florida marshes. Even if you stay on the creeks, far away from the long grasses, some fish’ll jump up on you and splash you.
I told Lily that, but she didn’t care. She told me, “Evangeline, we both know that tonight will probably be my last night dancing on water. And I’m going to wear something special, whether Momma likes it or not.”
That’s Lily for you, always doing her own thing. She never cares what
anyone else’ll think, what they’ll say when they see the mess she’s made, but that’s what I like about her: no matter how hard momma begs her, Lily’s still her own person.
We’re standing on the canal, waiting for Peter to show up. He’s late, like he always is. Peter’s Momma likes to stay up real late, watching the television, and Peter can’t get out till she goes to bed, otherwise she’ll know that we walk on water, and grown-ups aren’t supposed to know that sort of thing.
Finally, Lily sees Peter climbing over the fence to our backyard.
“Hi, Lily, hi Eva!” He smiles brightly at us.
“Her name is Evangeline, Peter Devereux. And mine is Lilith. I would rather you call us by our given names.”
“Oh, come off if, Lily. Evangeline is such a mouthful for such a small girl. And Lilith is so harsh and prudish a name for such a pretty young thing like you.”
“That may be so, but those are our God-given names.”
“God-given from your momma,” Peter says, grinning. “Now come on Lily, the moon is high and we got us some water to dance on.”
Lily lets Peter pull her out onto the water, being careful that she’s holding hands with him, and I step out behind them.
As soon as her toes hit the water, Lily starts running, as fast as she can, dragging Peter along behind her.
"Evangeline, you better keep up! I want to go to the Island tonight, and it's already late!"
"That's you're fault, Lily, cause you wanted to wait for Peter."
'We can't leave with out Peter, and you know it. Let's go, Evangeline, you aren't moving fast enough."
"It's not my fault I'm not as big as you! Peter, tell Lily to slow down!"
Peter laughed. "What, you don't think she can here you?"
"Ah, come on, Lilyanna. Don't be so hard on our little Lina."
"Peter. Her name is Evangeline. Not Eva. Not Lina. Evangeline. You are to call us by our names."
"Oh, Lily, God knows you don't mean it. I hear you call her Eva all the time. And she calls you Lily. Why can't I do the same?"
"Fine. Call us whatever you want, but keep moving. It's late. I want to get to the island."
"Why are you so keen on getting to Island, tonight, Lily?"
"I want to check on something I left there a long time ago."
"What'd you leave?"
"How do you leave a promise?"
Peter looked over at Lily. "So you're finally going to follow through with that?"
Peter nod, solemly, and grasps Lily's hand tightly in his own. "Then we better get moving. I've got a lot to show you. But are you sure that you want Lina there?"
Lily nods. "She has a right to be there, Peter. I can't tell her to go home, can i?"
"that may be true, but still. Isn't she a bit young? And she's your sister, Lily."
"If you're sure..."
Peter just nods, and they start running again, leaving me racing to keep up.
We reach the Island a few minutes later, out of breath. The three of us fall to the wood floors, gasping for air.
"I'm going to miss this the most," Lily announces.
"What, being all sweaty and out of breath? I'll miss that, too," Peter says. Lily shoves him
"Shut up, Peter. Don't be so lewd. Besides, Evangeline's right there."
"What's lewd?" I ask.
"It's means inappropriate, Eva."
"Eva, why don't you go explore the Island? Me and your big sister got some talking to do. You can go wherever you want."
"But how will I know when it's time to go?"
"We'll call you, alright?"
I set off into the woods. I've explored this Island a hundred times before, I know every inch of it. I know where the herons nest, and where I can find baby raccoons, and where the alligators sleep, and I can find the berries that are good for eating, and the trees that are fun to climb, and I know where Peter carved his and Lily's names into a tree, even though Lily has never seen it, and Peter himself has forgotten.
I'm sitting at the top of the tallest tree when I see Lily and Peter.
They're pressed so closely together, I would think that they were one person, except Lily's hair is yellow and glows real bright, and I Peter's is so dark that I can only see it where the moonlight shines off of it.
They hold each other as tight as they can, like how Momma held Daddy when she knew that he was going to go to God, soon, and Lily's crying, I think, but I'm not sure.
As soon as I see them, I squeeze my eyes shut as tight as I can, and I keep them shut until I hear my name called out.
I scrable down the tree, and run over to where I left Lily and Peter.
They're holding hands really tightly, but as soon as she sees me, Lily drops Peter's hand and runs over to me. Lily hugs me tighter then I've ever been hugged before, lifting me up off the ground.
"You ready to go home," she whispers.
Lily grabs my right hand, and Peter grabs my left, and we step out onto the water.
We laugh the whole way home, and fall into bed just as the sun rises, glowing pink, and pretend to be asleep when Momma tiptoes into our room.
The next night, after Momma’s finished clearing the kitchen, and has taken her bath, and gone to bed, I sneak into Lily’s room.
“Lily! Come on, Momma’s asleep! We got to go, Peter will be waiting for us!’
Lily just looks at me, her eyes real sleepy.
“What are you talking about, Evangeline? It’s bed time. Why would Peter be waiting for us? He’s probably already asleep. Now come on, get in bed.”
Lily pulls the covers on our bed aside, and I climb in. I take one last look out the window, and there’s Peter, sitting on our dock, swinging his feet, just like he promised.