Precious Things

At night my radiator speaks to me. Voices gurgle up from the deep. They tell me secrets. They speak in harsh tones, rasps and scrapes. They speak softly, water running over stones. One voice belongs to my grandfather. He is old and he is dying, but still he speaks; there is so much he must say before the night is over. The other voice belongs to my sister.

The banister at the bottom of the steps has a cord of wood missing. A round hole in the top of the column. I sit up there sometimes. When I have something that is precious to me, a stone I found in the driveway which is perfectly round, I will drop it down. I can never retrieve it but I will never lose it either. I do not know how far down the hole goes. I think it goes forever.

My sister was never born, but she has plenty to say. She lives in the center of the earth, and her voice bubbles up to me through underground springs. She is curled up in that hot core. Her limbs are not yet fully formed. Her skin is soft and translucent. Her eyes are cloudy discs. She still has her gills. I had gills once but they are gone.

In the walls of my house are things that we will never see. There are pipes that carry the voices of my sister and my grandfather. When they speak, it is not in our language. It is in a language made of bones and of fire. If our house burnt down in the night, I would save my toys first, my parents second. This is something I know for sure.

When I drop those stones, those pieces of sea glass, I am sending them to my sister. She will keep these things safe for me until I can join her.

In the night, the voice of my grandfather speaks from the pipes. His voice hisses low, a cloud of steam. Headlights flash across my window, white and red. I can feel the warmth of the fire. My grandfather is telling me to let it burn. The house will be gone, but I will never lose it either.

About the author:

Maria Romasco-Moore is a student at Ohio University. She was the recipient of the Younkin-Rivera Prize for Young Writers and her work has recently appeared in The Splinter Generation. She would like readers to know that this story is ninety five percent true.