Disarranged(3)By: Sara Wolf
I laugh harder than I have in months. Back in the car, Grace leans her head on my shoulder.
“Thank you for coming,” She murmurs. “I was lonely.”
We pass through a tunnel, the darkness calming. The jetlag hits me, catches up and bludgeons me over the head with exhaustion. I pat her hand and lean my head against hers.
“So was I.”
French cars are smaller, cuter, painted in shades of sky blue and rust red. The roads are narrow, but once we get out of the city the highway is just as wide as the ones back home – except everyone is driving on the opposite side. The highway gives to a winding mountain road, trees on every side and the white-capped purple ridge of the Alps in the distance. After hours of being in the air without sleeping, I nestle into the seat and pass out. When I wake up again, Grace is shaking me.
“Rose, we’re here! C’mon!”
The car door is open, and it’s white as far as I can see – a parking lot surrounded by snow. The air coming through the open door is cold and biting. The view of the mountain forest from up here is breathtaking. I get out on shaky legs and stretch. Grace is making a snowball.
“Don’t you dare,” I warn.
“What, afraid of a little snow, L.A. girl?” She smirks. I duck her snowball and scoop some up and form a ball. She shrieks as I throw it at her butt. The driver gets out and starts getting our bags. He rolls them along the sidewalk to the ski lodge I hadn’t noticed before. I was so entranced by the snow I didn’t look behind me, to where the massive, homey wooden lodge is lit with warm lights. Snow packs on the roof like frosting on a gingerbread house. It’s almost like a fairytale. Grace chucks another snowball at me, but I’m already trotting towards the lodge. The driver stops in the doorway.
“Thank you for helping with the bags,” I say. “I’ve got it from here.”
He tips his hat and leaves. Grace flounces up from behind me and suddenly I feel something cold and wet slide down my shirt. I yelp.
“That’s what you get for running from a fight!” She laughs.
I shake snow out of my jeans and grumble threats at her back as I follow her in. A giant fireplace greets us first, the smell of burning wood and clean mountain air mixing nicely. Other tourists gather on the plush chairs, some decked out in ski-gear. While Grace talks to the receptionist in hesitant French, I go over to the huge windows facing the slopes. There’s snow as far as I can see, pine trees heavy with drifts and skiers and snowboarders maneuvering down hills. A ski lift towers over all, shuttling people to and fro from the top of the ridge. Grace grabbing my arm jolts me out of my staring.
“C’mon, our room is on the third floor.”
The elevators are packed with tourists speaking languages I barely recognize. Our room is at the end of the hall. It isn’t fancy, but it’s certainly warm, with rich rugs and wooden walls. Gas lamps and a fireplace heat everything up. Two beds are covered in quilts and throw pillows. Grace’s luggage is strewn on her side. I throw my stuff on the other bed.
Grace picks up a brochure and tosses it at me. “Check it out and see if there’s anything you want to do. They’ve got massage, yoga, and of course, skiing and snowboarding. You probably don’t know how, but there’s free classes.”
“Totally free?” I quirk a brow.
“The agency signed me up for a few, but I already know how to ski. It’s all yours.” She walks over to the mini-fridge and opens it up. “And look! All the booze intact. I stocked up just before you came.”
“Do I look like I need to get drunk that badly?” I laugh nervously.
“I just figured…you know.” Grace fidgets with her hair. “I figured you’d want to have fun. Take your mind off…things.”
“You don’t have to make up for anything just because you’re his sister, Grace.”
“I know. I know that. But I still feel responsible, somehow. If only I could reach through our genes and punch some common sense into him.”
I unpack my shirts slowly, carefully, as if concentrating hard enough on making everything neat inside the drawers will keep my mind off that night. And Lee.