"She is a mystery to me my sister. Without words to describe her, I resort sometimes to pictures. One snapshot I've got of my sister, Heather Ricochet, was taken on that calamitous day that she was baptized."
And yet, here I am, still writing, still determined to finish this sucker. This time, I'm not writing it as a novel. This time, I am writing the truth.
Even as a baby, however, Heather had been "marked." Here is a snippet from the scene I wrote about her baptism day, with older sister Malvina narrating:
It is June, a steamy Sunday morning, and baby Heather is lying in my arms bawling her head off. Her face is dark pink, the color of a boiled hot dog, and warm and clammy-looking from crying so hard, and she looks lost in her long white christening dress. What isn't showing in the photo, curiously enough, is the elliptical shadow that appeared in the center of Heather's forehead right after the priest dribbled holy water on her scalp.
When Noni saw the shadow appear, she yelled out 'il maloch'io! il maloch'io! (the evil eye!)" Lurching forward toward the white baptismal font, Noni fell to her knees and immediately began praying out loud in Italian. The priest interrupted the baptism and asked my father rather pointedly if my grandmother wasn't going to need help, immediately. Wasn't it time to get her out of the church?
"No, no, I stay," Noni responded, getting to her feet.
"I'm sure it's nothing, Father" Pop told the priest, and the baptism continued.
Later in the story, Malvina tells the reader about Heather's adolescence, and how Heather found religion:
"It was Halloween, and Heather had put on her white confirmation dress and she had draped a sheet over her head. When she came downstairs in that get-up, I asked her what she was supposed to be and she just shrugged and looked at me mysteriously and said, "At least now I'm ready."
"Heather was a little too old to go trick or treating so I figured she meant that she was ready to hand out candy with me at the door. But she spent the entire evening dressed up in the white garb greeting trick or treaters. The next morning when she came down to breakfast, she was still wearing the white outfit, only she had bound one strip of an old pillow case tightly around her forehead so that she vaguely resembled a nun. When Pop asked her what was going on, she said that Saint Bernadette had appeared to her in a dream.'"