why so glum, carver? you act like we’re in the middle of a blight
Take care of our family, Father said, but he didn’t mention how to do it. He didn’t even write a list of guidelines.
How to make Carver smile despite the burden of his lackluster personality and giant chin. How to make Bethany look young again, the way she once did. How to avoid reminding Mother too much of me when I’m gone. How to see yourself in shiny, reflective surfaces, and not the weak shadow of another man.
They weren’t his final words—in fact, Garrett remembers, Father managed one last joke at the end. ‘Either those curtains go, or I will,’ he murmured, which was a father’s final lesson to his children: that laughter was a cousin to crying; that both came from the same heart; that anyone could manage them together at the same time. Like twins, even.
They were all bound to the Hawke family curse of similarities and contradictions.
And bad timing, unpredictable facial hair, a wandering love without direction or form or resting place, no roof over its head, no warm bed, a thousand small holes in its boots, and strong arms that somehow never managed to hold on, despite the authenticity of their loving.
‘Now, Mother,’ Garrett says, ‘it could always be worse. We could be dwarves. Bethany could have a beard like mine.’
‘Now, Bethany,’ Garrett says, ‘there’s so much to be grateful for. After all, you’re the twin with the normal-sized head. When you think of it that way, you’ll realize the Maker hasn’t cursed you. In fact, you’re really quite lucky.’
‘Now, Carver,’ Garrett says, ‘why so glum? You act like we’re in the middle of a Blight.’
Father’s legacy. What they carried from Lothering to Gwaren to Kirkwall. The subtle art of losing everything. The smiles they wear to keep a family remembering what smiles are. And only taking them off at night, alone in the darkness with tears, love, laughter and regret, like a pair of boots with holes in the heels. A father’s final lesson to his children.