I lingered in the doorway and breathed in my memories.
Her room sat on the northeast side of the house overlooking the ocean, and I could smell the salt air wafting through the open balcony doors. It was a chilly room that was light without being sunny. Outside gulls called ceaselessly and in the distance, buoys clanged. The morning mist had burned off, but come evening, the air would be filled with the lonely call of the fog horns.
The room had ecru walls and cream-colored French provincial furniture. A double bed with its blue and white toile duvet sat in the center facing a massive double dresser. Blue curtains danced from the two wide-open balcony doors. On the bureau, neatly arranged, lay a brush, comb and mirror and an ornate silver box filled with a tangle of gold earrings and bracelets. Three sterling frames held photographs: one of me as a child, one of the two of us holding hands, and one of her standing on a balcony, her eyes fixed on some distant point, her lips drawn in an enigmatic smile. A cream colored rug with a pattern of blue flowers stretched over the pale oak floor.
On the far wall a series of built-in shelves held her collection of shells: the great pink conch, the pearlescent nautilus, the fat striated shark eye, down to the lowly clam shell and barnacle.
I stepped into the room and turned to face her nightstand. Her usual assortment of books was neatly piled underneath. She loved to read about ship wrecks and early American history, but her taste was eclectic. One might find the latest best seller or a classic piece of fiction in her pile. Her neatly folded glasses were on top of the table next to a white marble coaster.
Above the bed in nightmare slashes of vivid color hung a portrait of her. Her work, I knew without checking the signature. The woman’s orange lips stretched open in something between a scream or a laugh, her hands ripped at her wild purple and red hair while green blood ran down her arms like tears.
My sister’s portrait of me.