- The Devil’s Triangle
Her parents always said they’d dig their own graves if anything happened to their children, so when her sister Claire disappeared on a camping trip in the White Mountains, Elsie kept an eye on things. She brought them groceries. Made mushroom risottos and bean enchiladas and coconut lentil soups and made her father sit at the table until he ate three bites. Took her mother to cafés downtown to drink cappuccino and play honeymoon whist. Signed her father up for beach yoga and dragged him to the ocean at sunrise with bamboo mats. Researched imaginal psychotherapy and psychodynamic insight therapy and expressive therapy and brief solution focused therapy and called psychologists and psychiatrists and support groups and chauffeured her mother to initial consultations. “I don’t need some Wellesley cunt taking notes while I play in a sandbox,” her mother would say, sinking into Elsie’s Volkswagen, clenching her purse, and Elsie would drive home and call someone else.
It had been a year of that. Still they knew nothing, and Elsie lived in that nothing, roaming the endless corridors of it, the silence unspeakable and huge.
“Come down for the weekend,” Elsie’s other sister Mika said, on the phone. The sisters were triplets. They were twenty-nine. They’d all been sharing an apartment in Cambridge, and when Claire went missing, Mika dropped out of law school and drove south without so much as a map. Before, she had been ambitious and idealistic and high-strung, had volunteered at a women’s shelter every night after class got out, had railed daily against the patriarchal machine, had even lasted forty-nine weeks, as far as she knew, without buying a single item made in China. Now she was a secretary at a hearing center and spent all day yelling into the phone at all of the old fucks. Sometimes she didn’t answer Elsie’s calls for weeks, and when she did, she sounded like someone else, her voice thin and hoarse.
“I don’t know,” said Elsie.
“Don’t you have Columbus Day off?” Elsie was a high school librarian, a little intense these days, maybe, a little aggressive—Take this! she’d say, pushing hardcovers into the chests of bagel-faced linebackers, gloomy and skittish bulimics, gamers with Red Bull teeth, Just take this!
“There’s shit I have to order.”
“Mitchell’s having a party on his yacht,” Mika said. “You could use a little extroversion. You can practice your small talk.”
“Who’s Mitchell?” said Elsie.
“My boyfriend.” [End Page 12]
“I thought Francois was your boyfriend.”
“Who?” said Mika. “Oh, Jacques. Yeah, he was.”
“You don’t have to say oh like that.”
“I didn’t!” Steam banged, pitchless, up the pipes in the apartment where Elsie still lived. Fall was here, and she hated it—the quick animal scratch of yard rakes, chestnuts dropping like bullets on the tops of cars, the occasional jack-o-lantern snatched in the night and found murdered in the road. It would snow soon, and evenings were getting very dark.
“A yacht?” Elsie said.
“A superyacht.” Mika sighed. “How long can you do this?”
Elsie looked into Claire’s room—surfboard propped against the closet door, cross-country skis tucked under the bed, Buddha statue in the window, boxes of books on large animal husbandry and small animal surgery and fundamental veterinary clinical pathology, harp zipped in its cover, eighteen Japanese tea pots Claire had individually named. Mika had sublet her own room to a surgical intern who was never home, but Elsie was still paying for Claire’s—she didn’t know what else to do. What else could she do? Claire had just run to the bathroom— Be right back!—a tampon like a flare in her fist.
“It’s just for the time being,” said Elsie.
“Use my miles.”
Elsie knocked on Mika’s door, woozy from the flight, taxi backing up and bobbing over a succession of speed bumps. Cadillacs and Buicks sat in assigned covered parking spots. Anoles darted out from bushes and scaled the concrete stairs. Gnomes pushed...