Antelisa Marie never answers questions about her name. It's up to us to explain.
"Antelisa was born the day before Elvis' daughter. Her mother was a huge fan." Then we make jokes about how Antelisa was lucky Elvis didn't name his daughter Lopes.
Antelisa refuses nicknames. We tried them all. A.M., Ante, Lisa, Ant. She'll walk away and pull her hair out, one strand at a time, until we hold her hands. If someone calls her a nickname now, we smack them around to show her we care. She watches closely and counts the number of slaps. Once we reach five, she nods.
Antelisa looks nothing like Elvis' daughter. She's a red-haired mountain of a girl with pillowy thighs on which we all like to rest our heads. When we do, she hums "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and rubs our temples until we fall asleep. For Pepe, it's the only way he can sleep. And when he's finally snoring lightly, only then does Antelisa slowly stand up and leave, although we don't know where she goes. We live at the edge of the 11 th Street access tunnel. She heads of in the opposite direction.
There's nothing there but an abandoned tollhouse and Fog Point Park. We've tried following her, yet she always manages to disappear. Pepe says she's a ghost. That's fine with us. We're all ghosts.
Antelisa reminds us of what we once had back when Elvis was alive. Our parents had hopes for us as we built Lego cities and Play-doh zoos. We returned our Colorform pieces onto their slick black cardboard holders with a precision we'd only show again years later when razoring lines on mirrors. We mixed thick soap liquid and water into pipes, then exhaled to form the bubbles that would contain our dreams and watch them pop on overhead branches.
It's almost midnight. We spread Antelisa's pilled and thready pink blanket in the middle of a clearing. We light a small bonfire to help her find us, although we never stray far. We let Pepe sit the closest and tell him to listen for Antelisa's footsteps across the broken glass and gravel. He doesn't smile. He merely closes his eyes and rubs a thumb over the edge of her pink blanket back and forth, back and forth.
It's a reminder of something long dead, like a lip sneer or hip swivel or maybe a bubble, one that got away.