My parents returned from Europe after a sojourn of three or four years, when I was eleven. They slid into my sight standing on the deck of a small passenger ship out of Marseille that docked in New York City on the Hudson River. They were returning home after their adventures, the most recent being their flight a few weeks earlier from the Balearic Island of Ibiza during the early days of the Spanish Civil War.
It had been years since I'd seen them. They were as handsome as movie stars. Smoke trailed like a festive streamer from the cigarette my mother held between two fingers of her right hand. When she realized we'd spotted her, she waved once and her head was momentarily wreathed in smoke. The gangplank was lowered thunderously across the abyss between the deck and the pier. Passengers began to trickle across it. Suddenly my parents were standing before us, a steamer trunk like a third presence between them. I knew that trunk; I'd seen it in Provincetown years earlier.
Paula Fox is the author of the novels Poor George, Desperate Characters, The Western Coast, The Widow's Children, A Servant's Tale, and The God of Nightmare. She is also a Newbery Award-winning children's book author. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.