“What color would you say, Aggie?” Martha asked. She wiped some sweat from her chin with the back of her hand. From her purchase she could see clear to the inlet, blue as the lapis on her finger.

    “Can’t say. Never seen anything like it.”

    “Nor me. But if you had to go out on a limb–,”

    “Out on a limb? You’re a stitch.”

    “No wiggling out of this. Pretend you’re a game show contestant.”

    “Speak up, dear,” Aggie said.

    Aggie floated in a shimmer of sunlight. Or was it her imagination? “You’re on a game show. For $5,000, what color is it?”

    “Scarlet,” Aggie said.

    “I’m not saying, ‘Good answer,’ like they do on television. When I think of scarlet,” Martha explained, “I think of the tanagers around our woodlands. I’ve seen them at the feeder. Scarlet has some orange in it.”

    “Not scarlet, then.” Aggie sighed. Her head bobbled toward her chest.

    “You’re not trying,” Martha scolded.

    “I am. The thread of purple in that rivulet there? How about cerise? That might be a match.”

    “Are we talking about rivulet or cerise?”

    Aggie smiled. “Cerise, dear.”

    “Of course. Besides it’s damn near a freshet anyway.”

    “Your facility with language becomes you. Always has.”

    “All right. We’ve a healthy sample now.”

    “Healthy, Martha?”

    “All right. A good sample, if you’ve no objections to good.”

    Aggie shook her head.

    “It’s not scarlet, and it’s not cerise.”

    “How about cardinal?”

    “Too red.”


    “Too purple. Think, Aggie.”

    Aggie examined the stream, drying in places. “Look there.” She pointed to a crevice halfway between them. “Tell me that’s not terra cotta.”

    “There’s a hint,” Martha conceded. The midday sun washed everything on the ledge in amber. “But not enough to call it terra cotta.”

    “It’s coming to me,” Aggie said. She winced and closed her eyes. Her head relaxed into a rocky rise behind her.

    Martha observed some movement in Aggie’s chest. Her breath had grown shallower in the last hour. “We never should have hiked the old mine road. It’s my fault entirely.”

    “Quiet, damn you. I…have it,” Aggie whispered. “Crimson. That’s it. Isn’t crimson the perfect color?”

    Martha watched the blood flowing from her sister’s thigh where the limb had impaled it. “Crimson. Spot on, my dear.”

“Tragedy struck in Kuanalahu State Park yesterday,” the television announcer said, “when two elderly sisters fell more than 30 feet from the Mine Hill Cliffs trail. According to the fire chief, the women landed on a small rock ledge, which saved them from falling another 40-plus feet. By the time rescuers rappelled down the cliffs to get to them, one of women had bled to death. The other was airlifted to Kuanalahu County Hospital with multiple injuries including a broken leg and a dislocated shoulder but is expected to live.”



Published in: on September 26, 2006 at 10:33 pm  Comments Off on