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The Last Stars in the Sky

“Mom, why are you so mad at Dad?”
“I’m not,” I say, which isn’t exactly true. Putting on a brave face for my two young daughters—pretending everything is fine in my marriage—has been hard. That, and losing the house after Daniel lied to me.

I never expected to have to uproot my family to go live in my parents’ isolated cottage on Lost Lake. It’s twenty miles to the nearest town, an insignificant speck in endless pine forests. Nobody’s lived here for a decade.

Now, I pick up a rusty pail from its nest of autumn leaves and turn to my daughter. Suddenly, I recall how I used to help my own mother pick wild strawberries up here as a little girl. Maybe, this isn’t a punishment. Maybe this place will be the making of our family.

I’m still thinking it when my daughter rests her silky head on my shoulder that evening in the flickering firelight. And when, over a steaming cup of coffee at dawn, I watch a single loon cut a course through the mirrored surface of Lost Lake.

Later, I’ll hold on to these memories—ghostly shreds of another life. Because just eight hours after I sat on that sofa, feeling so hopeful, the world as I knew itas anyone knew itwas gone for good.

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