She runs and runs, as if for her life, down the dusty, winding driveway, past the poppies, the numerous black-eyed susans, dandelions, goldenrod, reedy grass, bluebells.
We are high up on a mountaintop. Mountains of the east - the Green Mountains, but they are hills, stooped giants, shadows of what they were in ancient times, Appalachia. Every morning is crisp. Vista across my grandparents' hill, and you see one hill and another, stacked up, one behind the other, like the oncoming ocean's tide. She crosses through the grass, grass little shorter than me and far beyond my brothers' reach, desperate to escape us, but, laughing hysterically, and we three have little legs. Her legs are taller than all of ours, but she, unlike a child, is out of breath.
She runs from us. She is wearing a red t-shirt that is tight on her. She is young, beautiful, big brown doe eyes and hair clipped pixie. When she smiles, one front tooth is revealed, grey from a lack of circulation.
She is running from us. Cary and Stephen and I want to catch her. Their stubby bodies, their stout legs can't keep up. I am sure she doesn't want us anymore. She is tired of her burden. The flies, mosquitoes, gnats hit us as we run - an invisible shield of insects, as we penetrate deeper into the fields.
Stephen falls. He scrapes his knee on a rock and cries. Mutti returns to him, breathing heavy. Cary grabs hold of her sleeve, laughing hysterically. I feel hysterical but to me this is no game. She kisses Stephen on the knee, and carries him in her arms, swinging him a little, in game, until he laughs. All three of them laugh.
I am merely relieved she didn't abandon us.