A Bit of a Disappearing Act

I arrive at Jake’s house a little before Claire. Our parents’ flight is delayed, we learn. I try to say something to Claire, but it’s really awkward even making eye contact with her. I left the East Coast for the West Coast three years ago, after I finished high school a year early, and it was a bit of a disappearing act. I didn’t call home for a year. By the time I did Claire had moved to Montreal for school. She took about a year to call home too. I told my mother to give her my number once, but I never heard from her, and I didn’t make any other attempt to contact her.

Anyway, before we can really say anything, we end up sitting around the living room with five relations we never knew we had. They ask me questions and I answer — I’m out West fishing, like I did every summer back East, with no plans to go to school or do anything else. They ask Claire questions too, but she barely grunts out answers and leaves the iciest silences hanging in the air. They ask if she’s feeling all right. Claire abruptly stands up and says she needs air. A while after she leaves, Kate and Sam suggest we go check on her. I jump up realizing everyone’s expecting me to do this all along.