Moments before the wedding was to begin, Sonnet Romano shuddered with a wave of nervousness. “Mom,” she said, hurrying over to the window, which framed a view of Willow Lake, “what if I screw up?”
Her mother turned from the window. The late afternoon light shrouded Nina Bellamy’s slender form, and for a moment she appeared ethereal and as young as Sonnet herself. Nina looked fantastic in her autumn-gold silk sheath, her dark hair swept back into a low chignon. Only someone who knew her the way Sonnet did might notice the subtle lines of fatigue around her eyes and mouth, the vague puffiness of her skin. Just prior to the wedding, she’d attended the funeral, up in Albany, of her favorite aunt, who had died the week before of cancer, and the grief of goodbye lingered in her face.
“You’re not going to screw up,” Nina said. “You’re going to be fabulous. You look amazing in that dress, you’ve memorized everything you’re going to do and say, and it’s going to be a
“Remember what I used to say when you were little—your smile is my sunshine.”
“I remember.” And the memory did its magic, bringing a smile to her face. Her mom had raised Sonnet alone, but only now that she was grown did she appreciate how hard that had been for Nina. “You gave me lots of memories, Mom.”
“Come here, you.” Nina opened her arms and Sonnet gratefully slipped into her mother’s embrace.
“This feels nice. I wish I had a chance to come back here more often.” Sonnet turned her face to the warm breeze blowing in through the window. The sheer beauty of the lake, nestled between the gentle swells of the Catskills, made her heart ache. Though she’d grown up in Avalon, the place felt foreign to Sonnet now, a world she used to inhabit and couldn’t wait to leave.
Despite her vivid memories of her childhood here, playing in the woods with her friends or sledding down the hills in winter, she’d never truly appreciated the scenery until she’d left it behind, eager to find her life far away. Now that she lived in Manhattan, crammed into a closet-sized walk-up studio on a noisy East Side street, she finally understood the appeal of her old hometown.
“I wish you could, too,” Nina said. “It’s time-consuming, isn’t it, saving the world?”
Sonnet chuckled. “Is that what I’m doing? Saving the world?”
“As a matter of fact, it is. Sweetie, I’m so proud to tell people you work with UNESCO, that your department saves children’s lives all over the world.”
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