The sun is in my eyes, burning my lids slightly.
“Sir?” says a woman. “Sir, the plane has landed.”
I thank her and unbuckle my seatbelt, and follow the rest of my flight mates out to the terminal.
Florida is such a warm, breezy place. I breathed in deeply, and held it; not wanting to forget how sweet the air is here. Sweet like Evaine, and bright like her sunshine.
I’m afraid, honestly. I’m afraid she will not remember me, or that those . . . people will have told her awful things about me, making her hate me.
“Please remember me.” I utter to myself.
The cab driver looks at me as if I’m senile and then ignores me completely when I ask him where the Sunset Home for the Mentally Deprived was.
“Sir?” I try to get his attention.
He clears his throat and eyes me in the rearview mirror.
“I- uh- I heard ya, son.” He assures me.
We are off down flat lanes; passing palm tree after palm tree. Endless Ocean stretches out before us. I want to touch the water; feel the cool silk on my skin in the heat.
We pass slums, and mini malls; ghettos and beautiful suburbs, it was like were in a world where nothing was rejected. Everything and everyone were close; no one cared if you were retarded, poor, or a snob.
“Alright, boy, I hope this suits you well enough.” The driver tells me.
I pay my fare. “Thank you, sir,” and I add, “I’m visiting a friend.” for no apparent reason.
I’m not ashamed of this place. I’m not ashamed of Evaine being in this place. I just want to see her.
“Whatever.” Is all the man says to me and he drives off, tires screaming, down what looks like an endless lane.
I take my small overnight bag and carry it with me up freshly painted wooden stairs and railing. There were rocking chairs on this bright white porch and a ceiling fan twirling away. There are a few people scattered about the lawn playing games or talking, or holding someone’s hand just standing and watching. A woman wearing a nurse’s uniform greets me and smiles at me warmly.
“May I help you she says?” she says.
“I’m visiting a friend.” I tell her. My heart is beating so hard I pray to God she does not see it. I’m sure I’m perspiring, but I can blame that on the heat. “Her name is Evaine Longing.” I say her name as if it were forbidden to me. And maybe it is; I’m not even supposed to see her.
“And what is your relation to Ms. Longing?”
“I’m her brother,” I say quickly and awkwardly, “her half-brother.” I add still.
She narrows her gaze at me but does not ask any more questions. She gestures for me to follow her and so I do.
The house is not so big as it seemed from the outside. It looks more like warm home than an institution. Everything screamed Home except for the fact that everything was white. Absolutely no color is in the room. Furniture is plastic and hard looking, rugs are non, appliances are stainless.
“She is quite the girl here, Mr. Longing, such a sweet thing. We’ve enjoyed having her here.”
When she said Mr. Longing I cringed.
No wonder Ms. Taylor called me a pervert, I was pretending to be her brother!
“She hasn’t changed a bit then.” I found myself saying.
The nurse smiles at me and stops at a closed door; the door is blank except for the tacky little writing scribbled on the door reading Evaine.
“Would you like me to take your bag, sir?” she asks me. I barely hear her and almost drop the bag on her head.
“Thanks.” I say dreamily, as if I were far away.
She walks away and I wait until she is gone before I open the door.
I carefully place my hand on the knob, twist it, and push every so slight on the white wood.
I see a woman sitting on a bed with a children’s book in her hands.
This woman is beautiful with very long waist-length hair and eyes so large you could lose yourself and so bright you could blind your own. She is biting her lip with focus; she is reading.
I see that the book is CAT and I smile at her just for that.
She does not know I am in the room and I don’t know what to do.
“Will you remember me?” I think to myself, “Will you run and scream for help?”
Her breathing is slow and automatic. I can see her eyes going over each word in the book, slowly. She is so focused and I feel warmth in me. I’m proud of her.
I’m visibly shaking – so hard in fact I can hear my own bones knocking against one another. My hands are sweaty – I don’t know what to do.
But, while I stand here, Evaine lifts her eyes from the book.
She puts the book down and sets herself up from the bed.
She walks toward me with a white floor-length nightgown; I watch her toes, painted a bright pink, as they rise and fall back under the gown and out again with each step.
She stops in front of me and she takes me chin – raising it up so that she can see my eyes. Her expression is questioning but not afraid.
And then she does something that surprises me.
She cups my cheek and raises her thumb, brushing away a tear I did not even realize was there . . .
And she smiles at me.