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I like to tell people that my sister lives with the fairies. This is probably why I sometimes forget that I can call her. Surely the cliffs where fairies live don't get good cell phone reception?

I'm a horrible sister; I don't call nearly often enough.

 * * *

"How ARE you?"

"Great! But I've lost Mom." Mom, visiting Ireland for the week.

"You lost Mom?"

"She went off ahead of me."

It doesn't entirely surprise me. I imagine Mom traipsing the side streets of Cork, bending forward to peek into the windows of shops, pointing at soda bread. Stopping to listen to a street performer playing a song she doesn't realize is actually Dylan, taking the long way back to the hotel to marvel at old buildings and old men wearing old caps down by the water to keep their old ears warm. Oblivious to her name being called behind her along the way.

Our mother, she's got no strings.

"Can you call back in a half an hour once I've found her?"

I heat up some soup, drum my fingernails, wait half an hour and call back. The first time there's no answer. For a moment of held breath, I imagine a stolen purse, a chase scene, international intrigue, a bang on the head and sudden amnesia, a windowless van full of masked men. I dial again.

"I found her. She went to the police station, like a good girl."

"Oh thank god." My sister knows that we are unnatural worriers.

"She was holding candy." My sister knows how to make a story better.

By now they're building a fire in her little Irish home; down the line I can hear everyone laughing in the background. There they are, all together, telling stories that have sat untold for too long. For a moment, I say nothing just so I can be a part of that room. The crackle of logs is lost to satellite static. Fairies dangling from antenna wires.

"You know you need to call me again so we can have a big talk."

I know, sister; I know. You're far away, you have stories to tell, and I don't call nearly often enough.

© Zan McQuade. All rights reserved.

Reader Comments (3)

Loved this!

March 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGrad

Loved this!

March 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGrad

i want someone to say this about me someday: "she's got no strings."

this is a gem.

March 10, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersam

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