Pink Sky

by Sara Winnick

Illustration by Pierie Korostoff

published October 31, 2014


She is dressed as toilet paper. He wears Groucho Marx glasses. They meet at a Halloween party.

At the wedding his mother’s dress is blue with thin yellow and red stripes. “That dress was way ahead of its time,” she tells me when she is my grandmother. At the rehearsal dinner everyone gets drunk.

The night before the bar exam she cannot fall asleep. He sleeps like a baby. They both pass.

When the second baby is born the condominium is too small. The house on Swarthmore Street has a porch. The house on Santa Fe has a lot of fixing up to do, but there’s a two-car garage. It has a baby girl who chokes on a marble while her older brother watches Winnie the Pooh in the family room.

The kindergarten teachers tell them their son doesn’t play with the other kids. This becomes the first memory in a mental folder marked “your older brother has always been different.”

When the twins are born they buy a minivan, because a family of five fits in a car but a family of six requires a van. The van is light blue. It drives them to Woodbridge for Shabbat dinner at Grandma’s, to Ohio for Christmas at Other Grandma’s. When the baby who choked on the marble is in middle school, she writes a poem about watching the sunset from the backseat of that minivan. The poem is called “Pink Sky” and wins an award at the local library. The family of six stops calling sunsets sunsets. Instead we point and say, “pink sky.”

The first minivan gets old and they buy another. It is dark blue and has captain seats. It drives the twins to soccer practice and basketball practice and elementary school on the mornings they miss the bus. Once it drives them to a mental hospital to visit their older brother, who is taking a break from high school (Memory 206, “your older brother has always been different”). The older sister, once a baby who swallowed a marble, now a middle-schooler who wrote a poem, refuses to come. The twins claim the captain seats in the car.

For years she sleeps like a baby while my father tosses and turns. He wakes up, breathless, watches TV or does the dishes.

Sometime after my house becomes “my parents' house,” I learn she was dressed as a mummy.