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Isabella Bertoli

Thinking of Home

in Blue and White

            Hot rain melts the view as we gaze out at the Maroni. Crouching under brittle rust, we watch the drops make dents in the river’s surface until the whole thing looks like a watery replica of mountains and valleys. The rain pounds on the fronds of palms, dropping and clinging briefly to the rough shells of their seeds before falling, defeated, to the ground. The heavy air drags its feet on my tongue as I breathe in, leaving behind a taste of damp rainforest floor. I look at Birthe as she absently runs the gold paw-print charm along the chain of her necklace. She goes home tomorrow.


            I have never spoken about home as much as I did in the weeks running up to our leaving. My voice betrayed me when I said it on the phone, cracking halfway through, breaking the word in two and tipping it upside down, letting my longing tumble out. When I thought of home it was in blue and white: I thought of hydrangeas and fresh milk, and of the foam that a wave leaves on the surface of the loch after curling into itself and disappearing.

            When I thought of my family, it was always in solitary scenes, as though they couldn’t be together without my being there too. I thought of my father, bending cautiously on the beach with one hand on his back, reaching for something hidden between the rocks. I thought of my mother, flushed, the speckling of mud on her shins stopping in a neat line where her socks had been. Michael chopping wood or pushing a wheelbarrow, frowning. Sam holding the teapot, leaving drips of stewed tea on the counter.


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