She comes to us whenever she is in the country: my sister never misses an opportunity to see me, and, perhaps, even closer to her heart, Sarah. But those visits are now far and few between, for Jane is a busy lady. So it is a real, deep pleasure to be with both of them tonight, soaking the warmth of the fire, admiring them, my mind slowly drifting to pink clouds and sunsets, helped by my whisky’s glass.
“The funny thing, Jane is saying, is that I did take pictures, several shots of the shore, where “she” was – and none of them came out: there is no-one there”. She shows us several prints of a sandy beach in the sunset: the waves are leaking the sand, shiny silver beads with reflects of gold, nearby surfboards have been left, in good order, lined up to dry on the beach till the next day. Jane explains that Chi is a surfer’s paradise. Competitions are held there almost every week of the year. There is an entire community which is very active: young and beautiful residents who can express their passion at several spots around the island. “I came in through the main teleport, explains my sister, in the temple area. There was no-one around, or so I thought.” Sarah is listening, her sight firmly fixed on Jane’s lips, smiling.
“Then, I ask, how did you know she would be there?” Jane remains silent, reflecting, and after a few seconds, then says that she did not know, it just happened. “I walked along a little path that leads from a statue of the Buddha, on the edge of the forest, towards the beach. As I walk down a flight of steps I was looking at the sea and the sunset reflections. She was standing there, at the edge of the water, and she said that she had been there for some time. Maybe it was luck?” Sarah looks at me and asks: “Could it be that it has nothing to do with the phone call, Julian?” “Hardly, I reply, if it had been a chance encounter “she” would not have known Jane’s name”. “Besides, Jane agrees, “she” mentions you immediately.”
We remain silent, I look again at the beautiful beach on Jane’s pictures. After a while I become aware of the two of them chatting quietly: I must have drifted into some dream. “You must have friends there who know Julian, and that you are brother and sister, Sarah’s saying, so it may have been a silly prank. As to the pictures, those are screenshots, and what they show is that at the time you punch that key, there was no-one there. It must be explainable…” Jane remains silent. Suddenly it occurred to me that I may have exposed my sister, my beloved sister, to some danger. “Did you feel threatened?” I ask Jane in a quiet voice. “I got a fright when I first saw her, I did not expect to see anyone. And then “she” did not appear “solid”, more like a mirage, and “she” grew more tangible as we spoke.”
A bell chimes in the kitchen. “Dinner must be ready, says Sarah with a smile, Julian, have you got the wine sorted?” We laugh, and stand up, Jane hugs me tight, as if to reassure me…
We forget Chi and, at the table, chat amiably about Jane’s travels, our summer plans, and my novel. Jane wants to know about the plot, the characters, the style. Sarah smiles and tell her that she, Jane, must be in it, as the muse of the poet. Jane laughs: she is not sure she would qualify! Then Jane asks Sarah if she figures in the novel too. Sarah turns to me: “Only Julian can say about that” she teases. “I think they may be a few ghosts in there too” she adds and then kisses me on the cheek.
And then the phone rings. I hesitate, feeling Sarah’s gaze toward me. “Do you want me to answer?” she says after a time. “No, just now I don’t want anyone to disturb our evening”. And we continue chatting, and the caller quickly gives up.
Dinner was perfect, the wine sumptuous. We retire to the back room, facing the garden and the full moon. The fire is burning bright. In the quiet of the house, the only sound the logs crackling in the flames, as Sarah and Jane indulge in a chaste cuddle on the sofa, my anxiety of the past weeks leaves me. The cloud somehow dissolves in my mind. We can hear an owl hunting in the garden, near the oak trees, I expect a sharp frost tonight. I won’t visit Chi anytime soon. I am too old to learn surfing now…