The policeman said when they found her, she was calling for a young girl to come down from a tree. She spoke in soft, soothing tones, switching from language to language. Chinese, the policeman assumed, and Spanish and maybe Hebrew and Portuguese. Except there was no young girl up in the tree. Lucia had taken off her dress and her tights, placed them on the grass and spread the sleeves at right angles, like an X. "Lai, lai," she called. "Come down. Ici." She waved, shivering in her underwear, pointing to the target as though a parachutist might land there. "Please, miss," said the policeman. "Pardon, Señorita. Do you speak English?"
She turned to the policeman and said, "Excuse me, sir, I speak Cyberspace." And then she screamed and screamed.
I did not tell Yonah that story about my sister.
I did not tell him because I was afraid he would fight me again about her treatment, even though Lucia had already moved north and out of his life. I steeled myself against him. I would fight and he would not win this time.
He didn't fight.
When I visited the hospital, he was there. I don't know how he got there, to Westchester; he seemed so out of place in middle suburbia. It was the first time he had seen her in several months. She was thin. He'd brought her favorite vegan chocolate-orange poundcake, and she ate it with delight. She had taken a pill that day, and as a reward, or an act of good faith, the bony blond doctor wrote her a pass that allowed her to go outside. If you try to run, she warned, the police will come get you. It was a warm, fall day, I remember.
We didn't think she would bolt, we mostly trusted she would not, except for that small part of us that was afraid we didn't know this Lucia anymore, the things of which she was capable. So we clenched our teeth as she was released to the front lawn, and she dashed out at full speed, jumping into the piles of red and brown and yellow leaves the landscapers had left in neat piles. She spun around and around with her arms outstretched. "This is so beauuuu‑ti‑ful," she said, making herself dizzy. We clambered after her with long strides, breaking into a jog when she leapt too far ahead, like parents chasing after a child. We watched as she climbed a tree. Yonah hoisted her up so she could grab a low branch, and she scrabbled up the trunk with her feet. She sat on that low branch for a while, twisting her neck around like a bird, surveying from her new vantage point.
We sat on a bench. Yonah kept checking his watch. "Twenty more minutes!" he said. He did not want her to fall into disfavor with the bony blond doctor, and neither did I. "Fifteen minutes." She acted like she hadn't heard, humming to herself in the tree. "Ten minutes," he said. And I nodded at him, and we stood, erect like soldiers. "Lucy, it's time to go inside now," we said.
"Why, Yo‑Yo, what's the time?" she said. A flippancy I disliked.
"Three-twenty," Yonah said.
"Ten more minutes," she said, as she swung her dangling legs. We were anxious. "Lucy, you shouldn't be late," Yonah said, in that paternal tone that used to infuriate me. She looked at him, leaned forward, bending to hug that low branch until her entire body lay horizontal, and then she lurched her legs and flipped over, landing two feet on the ground. "Perfect ten!" he said, and she slapped him a high five, beaming.