I visited my sister only once while I was away. Phoned ahead even though I had already booked my flight. I had no real motive for wanting to see her other than a vague curiosity. Last I spoke to her was shortly before the incident with my cousin, of which I remember her sounding impartial. My sister had already left, after all. Since then, it was four years — two since I had been on the run. She had a way of sounding over the phone as if she could never be surprised by anything, this lilting tiredness in her voice. Even so, I remember that day how she seemed nonplussed when I told her who it was.
The plane touched down and I could see nothing but canyons. The sky was low, and bright. I felt as out of place from the people around me as soon as I disembarked, with how I dressed and how often I stopped to look around. The taxi fare from the airport was steep, as I recall, but it would have been the only way to stay discreet. Looking out the window, I counted truck stops, abandoned trailers, the more distinct clouds. I phoned you during the ride but you were likely sleeping.
My sister gave me a hug as soon as she opened the front door. She looked about the same, perhaps a little more disheveled than I was used to. In a little back room, she was in the middle of painting something on a medium-size canvas. I remember I tried to squint towards the room from where I was standing to get a better look but she didn't care to explain, a few base colors that were layered together. It could have been a field.
I stayed over that one night. I explained to her why I ran, as if she had been apprised of the situation up to then. She listened and it was again how much she seemed to expect this outcome, almost like she was inwardly making all sorts of comparisons, between us and our parents, between me and her. The difference being that she had made a peaceable escape. It was afforded her, as my parents never viewed her the same way they did me or my cousin.
Before I left, I phoned you again. My sister was sitting on her little kitchenette table with her mug of coffee, and every so often when I looked over to see if she was observing me or trying to listen in for your voice, she was instead looking back at her room as if she was eager to hide away and work on her painting once more.