Leonora had seen winters there, all right. impatiently waiting, she had seen snow falling for longer than she could remember. All those months during which the lake turned into ice and ancestral paths were reestablished between the island and the house. Ice skating, illegal fur traders, bricks heating bed covers, and the view from the balcony, which had now grown interrupted.
Long evenings, she thought, get me down. I wish I could sit outside and Rashid, ah, Rashid, would arrive at once. Bringing news of my sister. A photograph, perhaps just enough to show her face once more, swimming miles at that time of year on warmer lands. Here, a decaying doll silently longing for her return.
But what, now that the weather is warm and Rashid is gone? Through my opened window, I think of freshly squeezed lemons and of a Martinique I am not about to see again. And of Marion.
Lenora's mind is failing. Her age weights on her body, frail fingers pressing long gone ivory keys in the afternoons. Most of the time she forgets things. Except for intervals of clarity each time growing shorter, balcony, island, lake, floral arrangements, the world, are all involved on a ever thickening haze. A slumber she has learned to compare to sleepwalking, and which grows heavier with time.
Dressed in lace and silk, She wears cameos and keeps her hair tightly held on the back.
Sometimes she thinks about the children she did not have, on how they would have looked lovely running on the balcony, or through the grassed patch leading to the lake. Perhaps - no, certainly - they would have been as beautiful and charming as those Marion had had. Or did not she? Perhaps Marion did not have children either after all, although, like herself, she had married many years ago, soon after they left the boarding school. And then, also as Lenora, outlived her husband.
Perhaps she also kept the pictures they took during the school years. All those pictures which, although faded, still filled the room with perfume and slowed down her heart a little. As if despite all these years it could still wiggle and weight, gently expanding and irradiating warmth through her body.
"Yes," Lenora thinks sometimes, during rarefied moments of clarity, "we could have had beautiful children."