Sewn In The Sheets
Sunset Falls, a one-hundred- and thirty-seven-foot cascading waterfall on the Skokomish River, tells a tale unlike any you’ve ever heard. Please exonerate my mirthful ways, for I have hiked to this waterfall every year on the twenty second of May since I was twelve years old in hopes of finding my dear twin sister, Ramona Bloom. My name is Willow Bloom and today is the twenty first of May, our birthday.
Although Ramona was given to the river by our loving mother as a sacrifice in return for interminable beauty, I can still feel her nearby. Somewhere between the veil of here and the veil of not here she remains, unfound. It is not easy to express, she is both near and far, yet I am only aware of her existence when she is troubled, for when she is troubled so too do I become.
“Happy Birthday,” I whispered into the looking glass as I stood there, my hair swept behind my ears and a cupcake on the mahogany vanity with one smoldering candle aflame. So many times I had mastered the person looking back at me, hoping for a glimmer of Ramona. We are, after all, identical twins—not fraternal—but thirteen years it has been, and I have begun to forget what she looks like. Her smell—cotton and moonlight—I’ll never forget. The way her lambent skin would glow like phosphorescence in low tide has become a distant memory that I cling too. Those traits are not enough to bring her back, but still I hold on. One would think (being identical twins and all) that I needn’t look too far for she is always with me, but it seems that as of late I don’t recognize myself.
I haven’t recognized myself since I slipped that lovely white powder—that I got from a hipster in the alley behind Barnes & Noble—into my mother’s vodka cranberry. The beauty that was bestowed to her by the river followed her into death. What frightened me not was the act of insolence against my mother, my own flesh and blood who birthed me but so easily traded my sisters’ life for beauty, but that the act itself didn’t feel wrong. I recall smiling as she choked on her own proclivity and struggled to articulate my name. I remember smiling deeper as the family lawyer—Ms. Jacobs—read mothers’ last will in testament, leaving everything to her only surviving kin, me.
My grandmother, Ruby Randall, was a pure-blooded Cherokee from the plains of Oklahoma and was the most beautiful woman West of the Mississippi. My grandfather—a steel tycoon—just had to have her. Time hadn’t rutted grandfathers’ features and he looked rather good for his age—twenty years her senior—and grandmother gratefully accepted his hand in marriage for she found him rather debonair.
Sixty-seven years they were married, most of those years blissful.
One night, during one of grandfathers’ drunken tempests, he hit grandmother. She waited for him to pass out drunk in bed and she sewed him into the sheets and then permitted to beat him with a cast iron frying pan. He never laid anything more than a kiss on her after that.
I learned that thirst quenching bit of knowledge from a book that Grandmother Randall wrote and left in her absence. The book that she titled: Sewn In The Sheets, a golden locket with the number 18 engraved on it, and a skeleton key were the only items that remained. No directives and no explanations, just those three items. I vowed to ascertain the meaning one day.
In Grandmother Randall’s book—all four hundred and seventy-two desiccated pages—I learned about the Skokomish River and Sunset Falls.
Hundreds of years ago, the Skokomish people were fishing with nets when the river began to flow in the opposite direction. Their chief set out on a quest for answers and discovered the keeper of Sunset Falls, who asked for sacrifices in return for wishes. Somehow, my mother discovered this bit of knowledge and stood at the edge of the falls with Ramona Bloom on the red mossy rock and wished for eternal beauty as she shoved Ramona over the falls. When mother came home that evening she was sodden wet, but she was singular. Luscious, raven black hair—purple in the direct sun—and not a single wrinkle was present on her porcelain skin. She had immense lustrous eyes of honey alight and teeth as white as freshly picked cotton.
“Where’s Ramona?” I asked as I handed mother a towel to dry off with.
“In here.” She said as she held her soft hand over my heart and whispered in her soft, motherly tone. I knew then that something eventually would have to be done about her and I would be the one to have to do it. After that day mother began to sing me to sleep with a melodious dulcet that filled my ears with warmth.
Sadness is a white bird…white bird,
Watch it as it flies around, a white bird.
Sadness is a white bird…white bird,
Watch it as it flies away…a white bird.
To my desolation, I only saw white birds from that day on as flocks of white competed with my skies of blue. Sometimes they would merge into one, creating a cinereal slate gray too thick for the rays of the sun to cleave through. Those were the days I would read grandmothers book and forever remember the lessons that grandma taught me. The lessons that were sewn in the sheets.