Reno doesn't smoke and it's a relief because I'd rather my smile stop her heart than a Malboro. I told her that and she considered never talking to me again because of how corny I was being. If anything, I'm glad she doesn't smoke because her teeth are as white as the snow suffocating the landscape. She asked me if I ever smoked a cigarette and I said no, because my hands would start to tremble at the idea of picking up another of one my father's habits.
We walked in the snow and, three steps and two breaths in, she asked me to stop. Reno bleeds other's blood, and it showed when she dug her hands into the snow to reveal a dog's frozen carcass.
"I saw the tip of his tail sticking out of the snow." She studied the dog's body and brushed some snow off of it's side. There was a wound, the size of a child's fist. Frozen blood stained matted fur, as the front and back legs seemed miles part. "He must have been so cold."
"Someone shot him," I looked at her, as a strand of blond hair cut her face in half when she turned to me.
"He doesn't have a collar... I know what it's like to not have a home, too," she whispered to him.
I watched her, with her knees in the snow, cry. The tears slid down her cheek when she asked me if I thought that the dog's owner killed him.
"I don't know, Reno. I hope not."
She took off her left glove and wiped her face with a pinkish hand. She turned to me,"Do you think my dad would **** me, if he could?"
The tree branches hung over the blanketed path, as clumps would fall off and plop frostbitten kisses on the bright, eggshell ground. Eventually we reached the grave of Hilary.
Hilary Natasha Drake
Born October 12, 2001
Died December 8, 2007
May God grant you access into his kingdom
as easily as he granted you access into our hearts.
"She was beautiful," Reno smiled, before she looked away. "My mother would always say, 'Hilary, don't you know how pretty you'll be?' ...She had these lily green eyes that lit up a room-I could have swore that she stole them from the garden of Eden. She was sweet, too. Too sweet. Too kind-hearted."
I felt my hand tighten, as I looked down to see Reno's fingers wrapped around me. Her eyes were holding hostage a flood, as her lip quivered as much as her voice.
"In nine minutes, it will be the anniversary of when we lost her. It was just too much for her and I understand, Hilary. I do.
"It ate her body and wouldn't stop. Every day she seemed thinner and thinner. I remember when she lost her hair. Hilary didn't want to wear a bandana or a cap. I asked her why and she said, 'There's nothing wrong with not having hair, pappy does it all the time.'
"She was so strong, Josh. Stronger than me. Stronger than my dad. When she died, the hospital bills and funeral expenses were too much. We lost everything. My dad lost himself.
"Then, my mother left when his drinking got bad... It was the night before Valentine's day. I remember because I was given so many flowers. I didn't understand why because flowers die, too.
"My mother didn't even say goodbye. She left the photo albums. I never got to say goodbye to her or Hilary and it's not fair because I love them so much. I love them more than anything."
Reno couldn't erupt into tears like they could in the movies. This was the scene where she was supposed to cry uncontrollably or have an epiphany that could alleviate the loss, but neither occurred.
"There's one thing I want you to know, Josh: You can't save me. Don't try, okay? Please, do not try to fix the broken pieces because you'll only cut yourself.
"But there's also another thing I want you to know: You can be there, as I fix myself. I want you to be there."
I looked at her and told her I wanted to be there too.
I think I understand why Reno doesn't smoke, now. The idea of possibly giving herself cancer, when it already has taken away everyone she loves, would take something away from Hilary's fight and only add to Reno's loss.
"I can cry over a dog, but not my sister," she whispered. Reno wiped her nose, looked at me and said, "Am I too much yet?"
"Of course not."