Aria completed a week of the camp and found herself still intact. Rudy was relieved. One morning before leaving for the Ladies of Faith league meeting,Trish pointed out something seemingly peculiar to her.
“Rudy, have you ever noticed what Aria looks like in the morning?” She toyed with an earring that hadn’t quite latched right.
“No, she’s put together by the time I take her to camp.” He shuffled his newspaper on the couch in the living room.
“Well, she looks like she’s had a fight with somebody or like she’s been roaming the streets. Her hair is wild and she doesn’t look well rested.”
“Trish there you go again with the hair thing. Please.” He folded the paper and looked out the window.
“I am just saying. Do you know what possession is?” She threaded her plump arm through the sleeve of a white sweater.
“Trish, please. Try looking at the Bible passages about patience and love.”
“I’m leaving, Rudy.”
She exited, to Rudy’s relief.
The quiet of the house seemed odd relative to the past several weeks. Since Aria and Miles arrived, Kensington had woken up. The brothers visited more; chatter and music occupied more spaces. He hadn’t realized how much he missed this. Kiev seemed to be changing too. Like the house, he seemed more vital. Look at the number of sculptures he’d made. Lord, he was thankful he had found that studio for Kiev. He didn’t want it to come down to Trish or his brother.
The back door clicked open and shut. Footsteps continued on into the kitchen. The hall clock struck twelve-thirty. Must be lunch time. Rudy didn’t move, content to enjoy the Wall Street Journal in peace. The sounds from the kitchen were reminiscent of his childhood. He relaxed deeper into the couch.
“Kiev, I think you should make lunch today, I always get it. It’s only fair”
Silence. Rudy listened. Rattle of plates, utensils banging, and refrigerator opening. Curious. Who is making lunch if Aria is not?
Rudy decided to become a fly on the wall. He cracked the door slightly so he could see. In the kitchen, Kiev deftly maneuvered around the cabinets, pantry, and refrigerator preparing lunch. Unique, but recognizable: tuna, mayonnaise, 2 pieces of lettuce, bread, chunks of potato removed from leftover potato salad. Two glasses of water, lemon juice in two separate bowls and a pile of sugar on a tea plate. Aria had set the table and placed each prepared dish.
Kiev ate and Aria rearranged her food.
Rudy rested his head in his palm, smiling in the doorway. A sense of cool water seemed to rush through his veins, washing away hardness he hadn’t known was there. “Praise God!” Rudy let slip from his lips.
Aria looked towards the kitchen door.
“Hi, Uncle Rudy, would you like some lunch?” Aria asked.
He pushed through the door and smiled at his brother and his niece.
“Well, wow. Sure, I guess,” he said.
Kiev got up and prepared an exact replica of the platter for him. Then there were three, contently eating their meals in their own time and space.
The phone called, sounding louder in the quiet house. Rudy pushed back from his lunch and rose, still smiling, and answered.
“Oh hello. How’s it going up there? She’s doing well. We’re keeping her busy and I for one am really enjoying having a kid around the house. Yeah well, Trish is just a really different sort of person. They don’t spend much time together. Yeah, yeah, Kiev mostly. Man let me tell you, Kiev made me some lunch this afternoon. No, I am not lying to you. Aria told him it was his turn and he made lunch. No Trish is not home. Yeah, it was real food and it was good too. No, really everything is fine, don’t worry about her. We’re have a fine time. Okay, okay, I’ll get her, she’s right here.”
“Aria, baby, your dad’s on the phone, pumpkin.” He handed her the kitchen phone and continued his meal, occasionally throwing smiles at his brother. He took a longer moment to look at Kiev. He was sporting a soul patch right below his bottom lip. When did he start shaving and sculpting the hair on his face?
“Hello daddy. Everything is fine. No, she hasn’t been a problem. Well, Kiev got into a new place, a studio. In Brooklyn. It’s a good site but everyone else says it’s little. Because Trish started to feel like the sculptures were making the house look tacky. I think it made her feel uncomfortable, so we moved most of them over to the studio where they have room to be and Kiev is making more. The studio is on the second floor and there’s a woman who’s making a garden in a plot on the side of the building. Her name is Eloisa. Lots of flowers and some vegetables. Daddy, did you know that Kiev likes opera? Sasha gave Kiev an opera CD and then he gave him even more of them. He only likes the Italian operas. He listens to them all the time when he sculpts and really loud sometimes too. Okay, you too. Daddy, I need some more cassettes and some more memory cards for the camera. Okay, I’ll ask and remind him. Ich liebe dich. Ciao.” She hung up the phone and joined her uncles.
“You know Aria, I never knew Kiev could make lunch. Maybe I should let him into the kitchen to see what he could do about dinner,” he said, laughing. His brother’s abilities seemed to be surprising him daily.
“You know Uncle Rudy, I think it would be a great idea if you let him in,” she said.
That night Aria met her mother on the porch.
“Ciao, beijos. Hi Angel.”
“Where shall we go tonight?”
“Can you take me to the place where you are now and some of the other places that you think might be perfect for all of us?”
They drifted into a sorority of weavers. Mounds of exquisite material sat next to each woman. Strips contained either gold or silver strands, all intricately blended creating pieces more suited for adornment than practical wear. Aria picked up a silken fabric and placed it around her shoulders and arms. The buttery shawl melted into her skin, consecrating upon her a copper glow.
“Right now, I am in charge of seeking out the best material from any, and everywhere. I am called the seeker,” her mother said.
“The seeker?” Aria asked.
“It’s a very important role.”
“Because the seeker must be brave enough to search, and must be able to get along with everyone. There aren’t too many people like that, Aria.”
“Did you volunteer?”
“No, I was chosen. They knew. Some people can see inside others’ souls and they just know.”
As they traveled back to the porch, Aria made an admission.
“Mama, I’m afraid.”
“Afraid of what? Your uncles, that H-C, these people seem very nice.” She wrapped a shawl around Aria’s shoulders.
“Well, yes, everyone except Trish. I am afraid they will find out. What do I do, Mama?”
“Try to be invisible like Kiev. Trish is the only one that notices,” she said looking off into the sky.
“What do I do?” Aria asked searching the dark between the stars.
“Mama, help me.”
“Aria, I have to go. It’s almost morning. The women will notice I’m gone. You’ll figure it out. You’ll be okay.” She faded into the black night.
“Ciao mil beijos meu, Aria.”
Cowering in the doorway of the apartment, she expected to see his ghost. He did not come, instead her grandmother Mildred Rhone came, wearing a large green hat with an enormous daisy on the front. She sang a lilting Italian aria. As she sang, a crowd materialized, sitting down on chairs on a patio. A rotund woman with square, white teeth and a warm smile helped Aria up; she guided her to the front. Her grandmother sang directly to Aria for several minutes and then projected out to the other attendees. Aria woke, once again staring into the kind eyes of her grandmother.