"She'll be in New Orleans by Monday," Sean joked. "Covered in British oil."
They stared down at the water and said goodbye to their mother.
Sean doesn't want to be cremated. He wants to be left out, eaten by coyotes; he wants to become part of the world and nature forever, finally, with no fear and no division. To be everywhere at once. "I know logically it makes sense to be cremated? But I just can't get past the fact that you're being burned, and how painful that would be," she said, cracking him up. "If by some fluke you could... Feel it. I don't know," she said, "Maybe burial. I don't know," she said, "It's hard to decide."
He felt something coming but he ignored and just looked at her, curtain trembling. "It's not like you're gonna die tomorrow," he said. His sister had been dying since she was born, it wasn't a surprise to know she'd thought so hard about this. It wouldn't bother her quite so much if she didn't need to take care of everyone else, so she apologizes.
"I'm sick, Sean."
Aren't we all?
"I have cancer."
Sean shakes his head. The little shocks that remind you of the big one. She holds the world together.
"I'm sorry to blurt it out like that. When I say it in my head, it sounds a lot more eloquent. But it turns out quiet dignity is hard to do out loud. So that's it: I have cancer. Melanoma, to be exact. And I'm dying."
She's brave, looking in his eyes. His Self is splitting.
First he asks what she's going to do; his sister always has a plan.
"Other than eat more sweets? Not really. I've looked into it, the options aren't good."
It sounds like a roaring, a tearing. It makes it hard to laugh. He skips a stone. He wanders away, across the sand; his mouth opens and the sound comes out. He's going to have to be stronger than this, to pull himself together like the world. His voice changes, he talks like a man:
"Well, okay. Okay. Okay. Well, people die. You know, it's a guarantee. Something is going to get you. Now you know what it is. Me, I'm in the dark."
It doesn't help. She pulls back the curtain and there's nothing behind it. Maybe rage. Maybe holy rage and rhetoric, like bends the harsh world back. Maybe the prophet can handle this one:
"But people die! That's the way it works, people! You just..."
But it sputters out. There's no rage, there are no people. Just his sister, and the roaring sound of night. And suddenly death everywhere. She holds the world together. The agreement is that his sister holds everything together and he lives down in it, and they save each other when they have to. That he said no to the whole world, every single part of it, except for her. He said no to things.