Wind.Rain.Wild

image source:bing images

image source:bing images

The rushing, bustling, whistling sound in the back corner of the house draws me to the half-window of the back door.  The backyard is soggy.  Two streets over, a lone palm tree, at least twenty feet above rooftops and oak and sycamore and elder trees, sways back and forth, five feet east then five feet west.  East and west, it sways.  Near the top of its long bare trunk, the fronds of its grass skirt are whipped up and down and around in a frenzy dance of wind and rain.

image source:parktography

image source:parktography

On the white wall of the garage, the scarlet blooms and green leaves of the bougainvillea normally stretch wide and high, but this dim morning they droop, weighted by the pelting rain; fat drops gliding the hills and valleys of each bloom and leaf, dropping staccato onto the ground below.

At the side of the garage, that spurt of growth from a seed dropped there by some bird or carried there in the dung of the possum or the feral cats has grown tall.  It seemed like a weed at first; its roots unreachable amid stuff stacked behind the garbage cans, so over the months I whacked away at the sideways shoots until today, what I see out in the storm is a burgundy maple, taller than the garage roof.  It sways just like the nurtured and wanted trees in the yard.

Water has washed the paving stone path from the porch to the garage.  The birdbath is full, its surface dappled with rain drops.  Even the squat, sturdy grapefruit tree, leaves fat and steady, fruit ponderous is swaying.  I see no one.  No person, cat, dog or bird.  They’ve all gone to dry ground somewhere.

image source:bing images

image source:bing images

It’s not unusual to hear predictions of rain that never materialize for us.  It’s not unusual for a breeze to change the sky from clear to muddled clouds, while all remains dry.  It’s not unusual for rain in the hills or along the coast to miss us.  It’s not unusual for those same storms to mean mudslides and damage in other places.  Even so, I’m grateful this little valley that is normally spared wild weather has not been passed by this time.  This wind, this pelting rain, they are rare for us.  Exquisite.

The earth, the grass, the plants, the flowers, the trees; they drink, they are washed.  Dry turns to plump and nourished.  Yellowed winter grass drinks deeply, its tint turning even as I watch.

The wind and the rain and the wild storm remind me of a truth.  Each season returns in its appointed time.  The maker of the wind and the rain began it all and so it continues.  I take comfort and rest.  I smile at the wind and the rain and the wild storm.

image source:Bing images

image source:Bing images

I fill my lungs with washed air.  I drink in the power of the storm.  I open the dry spots of wariness at Mother’s health and find them moistened and soothed.  I feel the deep well of an unknown future start to fill.  I hear the dry crackle stress of hard choices ease into possibility’s supple cloth.  I open my hands and hard tensions untangle.  I watch the hope of a creative spark take nourishment.  I feel the expansion of my spirit.  I embrace the bubbles of joy.  I stretch with energy and settle into hope.  I turn from the window and continue on, cocooned by the rushing, bustling, whistling of the storm.

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We don’t live in paradise….

The sounds coming from the bathroom are not pretty.                   Chugging splats                       bubble,

image source:Bing images

image source:Bing images

plink.
Groan, spray filtering.
The rustle
wait
bustle              wait.
Bemoan;
the whine is wallpapered, stiff and melting.
The smell, oh the smell.
Bemused gave off the bewildering.
Resolve flushed.
Can’t.  No, can’t.

Mother, with great sighs, slowly makes her way into her bedroom and shuts the door.  In my bedroom, pale light filters through the wood blinds on donkey my window.  Gentle, not too bright ribbon.

I lie on the bed, under blue weed covers.  I was sleeping but now that’s gone.  My brain buzzes.  Fine.  So don’t do it.  It’s her decision.  The can’t lets the air out of the balloon to a slow relaxation for her but now I’m wound up.

image source:google images

image source:google images

What’s next?  What to do after that can’t?  Her stress floated down the hall and settled on me.  Too much to think about.  Too much to query to God.  I need some wisdom here, because this impasse is looming large on the horizon, if you get my drift.

The house has gone quiet.  My black sleeping mask is in my hand instead of on my face.  All is still.  Except the racing thought trails of my mind, up over mountains of possibilities down into ditches of nasty consequences of seemingly innocent choices.  It’s all food, right?  What’s the big harm here?  Well, that is the question, isn’t it?

image source:Bing images

image source:Bing images

Pick your poison, Ma’am.  Step right up into the parlor of innocent nutrients.  FDA approved, so what could possibly be harmful?  It’s the amazing machine of the intricate mysterious inner workings of the human body.  Absorb this.  Slough off that.  Change, swish, chug, mutilate, smash, transform, squash, mutate, evolve, utilize, reject and package into that passenger train of garbage that came in and is now garbage headed out.

I know what I’d do if it were me.  Identify the perpetrators and stop giving them admittance.  Mother can’t seem to understand that concept.  It’s food.  It’s her favorite foods.  How could they possibly be causing these difficulties, these distresses?

There’s a straight line connection, but she can’t see it.  What a relief it would be if that connection didn’t exist.  I’d take that world.

image source:Bing images

image source:Bing images

Imagine what it would be like if Adam and Eve hadn’t eaten that apple?  Hadn’t decided they wanted the job of god in their lives?  Everything was perfect before that, so we’re told.  It’s hard to imagine a world where there’d be no decay, no disease, no killing, no hatred, no suffering.

No acid reflux, no food sensitivities, no teeth that break off and require oral surgery.  Sounds like paradise, to me.

Oh well, reality beckons.  We don’t live in paradise.

I don’t know what to do for her, God.  At least you know the body you made and just ‘cause bodies get faulty, you don’t.  My stress ebbs away and I sleep again.  Cell phone vibration and ring-tone startle me awake.  I fish the phone out from under my pillow.  An 800 number.  Not answering that.

No point is lying here.  Might as well see if I can print up a list of foods that won’t aggravate Mother’s GERD.  Maybe she’ll react better to the CANs instead of the CAN’Ts.  Thanks, God.  That dozing helped.  I feel a little closer to paradise.  Amazing what rest can do.

Nuts

image source:Bing images

image source:Bing images

Crunch

cracks

and breaks the

nuts

That bounce in

further splinter,

hard frozen wholes to

Slivers and bites minuscule.

Exchange

from big Full

to tiny small.

I keep losing them, one at a time.  Oh not so many, just a few, you understand, but over the days and weeks and months, it could add up.  I drop one, it bounces out of sight into…Never-never land?  Yesterday, I leaned over the desk chasing the end of a computer power cord and there, on the painted hardwoods, between the edge of the Persian rug wannabe and the tall baseboards, there they were.  Nuts.  Some whole, some ground to bits.  A mouse could live royally behind my desk.

Carry on……

image source:google images

image source:google images

The cuckoo clock ticks.  The floors creak with the slow movement of the elderly woman traversing the length of the living room and the dining room, cane maneuvered by one hand, the other hand holding the day’s newspaper, just retrieved from the front step.

Great hall height     BUMBLING                  forward                inside all the way              to cake breakfast            before        drop         eyelids               into    the deep.         Being      of course,         is perfectly soluble          fight and fought             fraught?               Bought for naught? While I              DANCE                tripp ingly                        two sides                                              that’s                       understood,
or                                   should be,

if you get my drift.   I read just the other day, somewhere, or maybe I heard it?  Well, I won’t bore you with the how or the why, but you follow what I’m saying.

It was like, the time comes when the young take up the cause left behind by the old.  Something close to that.  Oh, maybe, the time comes when the old give up their cause to the young.  Yeah, I think that’s was it.  The time comes when the old give up their cause to the young.

Souls fly higher daily, skin thinned into translucence; some march straight ahead to the edge of the cliff and step out into air; some slow until inert stasis is the wall paper of their last days; some push against dread and fear; some laugh and joy in the legacy they’ve built; some writhe deep in pain and suffer the sloughing of the dying flesh; some faces light with the promise of more life to come; some pull the trigger in search of false relief.

I hear Mother coming; her cane clunking.  My mind flies to memories treasured.  I hover, chose and settle in to enjoy.

“Decaf?”  The waitress sets a glass of water and a napkin wrapped knife, fork and spoon on the table.

Crile R Dean

Crile R Dean

His solid but not overweight figure sits tall against the back of the booth, his hair white, every hair combed into place;  his eyes bright, a smile on his face, his cream colored, short sleeved, button-up shirt and brown slacks, not new but clean; his walking shoes a little scuffed.

The diner is clean, if well worn.  Much used faded counters nicked and scarred, brown booth seats with a sag here and there, wood chair legs nicked, metal table stands marked where decades of shoes kicked or rested.  Some faint muzac plays overhead.  People chat, waitresses weave in and out of the tables, arms laden; people eat.  It is a little cooler in the middle of the room and warmer in the booths against the east windows, their shades angled to keep the sun out of the eyes of patrons.

He isn’t cold.  His morning three mile walk has warmed him and built his appetite.

“No decaf, high octane,” he hands a menu back to the waitress, “bring me the Grand Slam; eggs fried.  Bacon and sausage.”

“Syrup or jelly for the pancakes?”  She writes on her order pad.

“Both.  And toast.  Add toast.”  He smiles again.

In my mind I walk into that diner and sit across from him.  His eyes light with love and joy at seeing me.  I hand him a wrapped box with a bow and a tag, Happy Eight-Eighth Birthday, Daddy.  His grin is awkward.

“You didn’t need to do this,” he pulls off the bow and peels off the paper.

I smile at the memory of his strength, his stamina, his love for life, his drive to make a difference in his world, his sharp grasp of things political, sociological and spiritual.  His ability to still lift the hedge trimmer and the edger and to navigate the lawn mower.  His confidence that still sent him onto the garage roof to trim a dead plum tree limb and God’s grace that urged him safely back to the ground just minutes before a 4.2 on the Richter scale hit.  He was fearless and bold.  Even at eighty-eight.  Mother called it reckless and foolish.

I hang on to the scenes of his life, vitality and joy.  They weren’t our last scenes.  Those were hospice and changing diapers and giving morphine and a skeleton pushing through translucent, whisper weight skin.  I skim past those and hang on to a truth.  Those last days were just the cocoon breaking open, setting his soul free.

I miss him.  I ache.  I cry.  I smile at his silly sense of humor.  I breathe in the certainly he’s there waiting for me; in eternity with the Creator.

Mother has made it at last to the kitchen.  I turn to her,

“Morning, Mother,” I smile.  Daddy and Mother were like night and day together.  Being here with her and remembering him, I see the differences no longer matter.  Daddy lived his beliefs and then he gave up his cause to the young.  Mother is nearly there.

My journey continues.  I have a choice.  I begrudge the time I no longer have with Daddy.  I get irritated at the task of being with Mother.  I watch any brighter, bigger purpose and meaning shrivel up while I trudge through the mundane.  I feel myself drowning.

image source:blingee

image source:blingee

I reach for a lifeline and I’m pulled up to keep walking, to take the steps onward.  I take heart from Daddy’s life.  I slough off the dread, the weight of unfulfilled expectations.  I let go of the hurts, imagined or real.  I remember the love, I remember the promise of eternity.  I believe.  I carry my cause, forged in the smelt of their influence, with honor.  I’ll keep on, until it’s my turn to leave a cause for the young to carry.

Choose

humingbird

image:birdsandblooms

The heart of the hummingbird beats so fast, his entire body quivers.  He is mostly on the move, flitting here and there, balancing mid-air to dip his long beak into the flower decorated feeder hole in the hummingbird feeder.  I’ve watched him through the dirty window behind the desk as he flits from place to place.  He is such a delicate creature, yet he perseveres, he continues his flight, his quivering quest for sustenance.  He survives.

Mother comes to mind; her essential tremor that keeps her head moving in tiny jerks; her fragility when she doesn’t feel well.  The effort it takes when she has to be out early to get to the dentist.  Where there are two flights of stairs to climb to get to the office door.

“Do you want to go up the stairs,” I ask as we pull into the parking lot, “or shall I drive the length of the building, we’ll take the elevator and walk all the way back to here?”

I look over at her in the passenger seat next to me.  She’s nicely dressed in green slacks and a flowered blouse under a white cardigan sweater.  Her slightly graying hair is combed and sprayed.  You wouldn’t know to look at her how difficult it was for her to push herself to get out of the house.

The day is a beautiful seventy-six degrees, blue skies, a nice breeze.  The talk radio host expounds about things worth pushing towards, in his mind at least.

“We’d better take the stairs,” Mother says as she pulls off her sunglasses, “I’d rather be early than late.”

She’s such                  A                  trouper
She                 keeps pushing                       ahead, whether                          she feels well or not.
She
is pushing ahead to
haveThreeTeeth                 PULLED
and                three teeth ADDED           to her partial                      so
that she can eat easily.                 I leave                 the choice to her.  Would         I             PUSH            if I                 were eighty-six    and     in               PAIN                                  from                         a CROOKED back?

I push now to do all the right things for my health.  I push now as I could live another 25-30 years; I push now to make those years easier.  I push now because I hope.  I push now against aging; I push now against loss of ability, against sagging, against creepy lines.  I push as if I think I could really halt or slow the processes of time.  I fool myself.  I am a fool.  Am I a fool?

image:communitycaringcouncil

image:communitycaringcouncil

Mother and I start the climb up the stairs.  Her footed cane takes the first step.  She grasps the railing with her right hand, her left directing that cane lest it teeter against one of the pebbles in the aggregate stone steps.  The free-floating steps undulate and sway in the breeze, the pebbles bubble; I grasp her left arm and lift, trying to not leave a bruise.  She’s moving too fast.  She’s jerky as she hurries.  The footed cane bumps half on, half off the step.

“Nice and slow,” I take the next step with the cane, “take your time.”

She breathes out a sigh, slows, and carefully places the cane, then she and I together pull her up.  We lift off and huff and puff through each step until we’ve reached the top of Mt. Everest.

Going back down, the pictures in my head are not pretty.  The view down the top side of Mt. Everest is long and steep.  One misstep and she’ll be Humpty-Dumptied.  How will I explain that to her other children?  We descend ok, but I can’t get the eerie wariness out of my head.

Later, I close my eyes to doze and see bleak days filled with sponge baths, wheelchairs, bed-fast summer, winter, spring and fall and utter dependence.  My head screams, “I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE.”  I twist and turn in my worry.

“STOP IT.”  I sternly speak into my nightmare and wake myself.  It’s one step at a time, Victoria, one step at a time.  That’s what that shepherd boy knew, in the black of night, out on those lonely, cold hills, thousands of years ago.  He knew it was a step at a time.  And, he knew he didn’t take those steps alone.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

He made a choice.

I will make a choice.  I choose life.  I choose to push.  I choose to take the next step.  I choose to trust.  I choose not to fear.  I choose not to walk alone.

Freeze

image: lionheartherbs

image: lionheartherbs

Impossibly blue.  Blue that runs in rivulets, coursing from east to west in a great splash of vibrancy that covers every pin-prick, every divot, every crease in the old, chipped, and here and there, crumbling plaster walls.  The blue bleeds into the carpet where the walls touch the floor and seeps into the dirty, dusty old fibers like the coursing in of the tide until it reaches where I stand and begins to paint my toes, creeping up.

I’m very curious.  What will this blue do?  I have no idea where it will stop.  Will it mingle with the blood in my veins that give hints of bluish lines under the skin?  I’m not sure I want to change all of my tint.  What if it covers so well that those varicose vein spots of dark blue spread and cover up the rest of my skin color?  I am breathless.  I gulp.  I’ll be a walking Blue Woman.

How do they breathe?  How will I catch and hold to life if all my pores are mucked tight in slime that shines so bright I’ve become flashing neon?  Why, they could paint adverts on me and make a dime perhaps.

I’m struck suddenly with a worse scenario that grabs tighter at my lungs and leaves me deep sucking for air.  I might just blend into the walls and carpet and sky and vast eternity where unseen I will be lost to float without notice amid the halls of time, perhaps bouncing erratically through hazy dimensions, mossy and mysterious, ever seeking, ever yearning, ever longing to find permanence, to stand-out, to have some effect, to leave behind a tombstone written with words of wit and wisdom beyond the simple description, She Was Blue.

Not that blue per se is bad.  Blue is the color of a clear sky, the color of the notes of a jazz horn, the color of an ink, the color that happily announces the birth of a baby boy.

The clunk-splat sound of the paint brush hitting the tipped over paint-can brings me back to the bedroom painting project.  Two and a half walls done, two and a half to go.

I stand in the center of the room, no make-up, hair pulled up in a sloppy pony-tail, the nose piece of the protective glasses irritating the side of my nose, wearing paint-stained cut-offs and one of Sam’s old tee shirts, the ancient carpeting serving as a drop-cloth, the used-up can of paint at my feet, and in my ear, the ipod sound of the weather report of another blast of frozen Arctic Air that is turning everywhere in the United States, except us here in the far western states, blue with cold. I grab a paper towel, wipe the dot of blue off my big toe and reach for a new can of paint.

“Hey,” Sam comes through the open door, briefcase still in one hand, “you went with blue.”

He walks to my side, leans his head to mine and gives me a peck on the cheek, making sure to get nowhere near the paint stained shirt, “Does that mean it’s a boy?”

“Time will tell,” I smile and concentrate on prying the lid off the new paint can.  If I look too long in his eyes, he’ll see into my blue morass.

“I love how brave you are,” he says, walking back to the door, “giving up your meds so our baby will be healthy.  I knew you could do it,” he smiles, pulls off his tie and leaves the room.

I stir the paint, pick up the brush and start painting.  The frozen blue ice in the can melts into blue paint as it meets the wall.

Accused

 

image source:google images

image source:google images

 I turn the key in the back door lock and walk into the house through the laundry room and on into the brightly lit kitchen where I find Mother standing by the portable dishwasher.  On its butcher-block top, she is filling her 12 ounce insulated cup with ice and chilled water. 

Her look is piercing.  No hello or how are you or how was your writing class; no pleasantries.

“I thought you were going to buy sugar?”

“I did,” I say.  “Remember?  You stood right there when I filled the large canister.”  I’m not prepared for this attack so am irritated at myself for feeling defensive.

“Oh,” The piercing look changes to puzzled defiance because she’s sure of one thing and I’m sure of the opposite and because things that used to come easy for her now elude her grasp.

“Well,” she says, “I used the sugar in the small Sugar canister.  I had to ration how much I put in the apples I cooked to put up in the freezer.”

The apples arrived on the front porch yesterday morning in a plastic grocery bag.  From one of the neighbors across the street?  Probably, as we regularly trade fruit from all our trees.

Mother uses her cane to carefully move the short distance to the refrigerator to return the bag of ice to the freezer section, then back to the butcher-block top where she picks up the iced water jug, turns around and moves back to the refrigerator, her cane clunking with each slow step.

image source:athome.kimvallee

image source:athome.kimvallee

Hot apple aroma is making my stomach grumble so I take a clean spoon to the stove where the cooked apples are still in the pan.

“They’re perfect.  The ones you made last time were too sweet for me.”

Mother comes to taste the apples and we agree they are delicious and I tell her that it’s nice living with someone who cooks these tasty things.  She’s happy now and moves slowly out of the kitchen into the dining room where she settles herself and her iced water on the back side of the dining room table, so that she has a clear view of the TV.

I move around the house, rinsing dishes she left in the sink, collecting recycle trash and garbage to put in the outside bins, opening mail, starting a load of towels in the washer, checking my email and facebook.

Mother mutes the TV on the commercial.  I hear her groans of effort as she gets out of her chair and the clonk of her cane tells me she’s coming through the kitchen towards me in the office.

“What has happened to all my kitchen dish towels?”  She’s sounds upset and I know if I look I’ll see that defiance on her face again, “did you throw them all away?”

“Do you hear the washer, Mother?”  I don’t look up.  I continue to sift through mail, tossing empty envelopes and junk mail into the trash.

“And all the white towels from my bathroom,” She leans against the door frame, “where are they?”

image source:menslifestyles

image source:menslifestyles

God give me strength.  Apparently logical thinking has deserted her in her eighty-sixth year.  I sigh, swivel Daddy’s big old-fashioned desk chair towards her and begin again.

“I’m washing a load of white towels, Mother,” I take the look of frustration off my face and hope it is replaced with kindness, “bathroom and kitchen white towels, Mother.”

“Oh,” she turns and clonks back across the kitchen floor, “I just couldn’t understand why you would throw them all away.”

I can tell by the sounds that she’s back at the table, getting settled in her spot.

“They are all perfectly good towels with lots of use left in them,” she says just before the sound of the TV at full volume again fills the house.

“Especially the brand new ones I just bought for your bathroom.”  I grumble to myself and swivel back to the desk.  I don’t know what the next crisis will be.  I know there will be one, and no doubt, it will be my fault.  Not that it is her fault she’s eighty-six, wears out quickly and is easily confused.  One of us has to take the blame.  I guess that’s why I’m here.

[1st Place Winner – LinkedIn Themed Writing Contest, 11-20-2013]

publicity….

image source:ernestradio

image source:ernestradio

A big thank you to Jane Hoffman, talk show host on ernest radio network’s beaten path, who on tonight’s radio talk show, read two of my pieces, SHINING STAR and MEDUSA.

Listen in to Jane’s gutsy program at  http://ernestradionetwork.com/

Sugar Rush

Some days excite;

possibilities of life,

expectation of travel,

affirmation that something

said or written is

worth listening to and being read

appreciated and enjoyed;

image source:magdascakesnc

image source:magdascakesnc

Exciting as cake, fresh berries and chocolate sauce.

Why not?  Wheat and dairy = no-no’s.

Just this once?

Sugar and chocolate buzz fuel the

2 a.m. forty-five mile trip home,

3 a.m. stomach distress

9 a.m. headache pushes though sleep.

Still, sugar hangover and food sensitivities

pale in comparison to the memory of

the night’s  fun and anticipation.

Remember when the rush was the thing?

Now the thing’s the thing,

The promise of hope of the

Tomorrow faith sees.

Medusa

The moment I saw her I knew I would have to leave town, but only if she was smarter than me, which was not possible.

image source:net-cs

image source:net-cs

She was coming down C concourse in a crush of people whose flights just landed.  She looked good, casual clothes, hair tinted red, dark sunglasses, relaxed.  She saw my wave, threaded through the crowd and came to where I sat at a small table in the bar.

“Meghan,” I stood and hugged her; she slid her heavy carry-on bag off her shoulder as we sat.

“Danielle, I can’t believe how much you look like me!”  She pulled off her sunglasses and my eyes looked back at me.

“I haven’t been a strawberry blond for years, but it wouldn’t make sense for me to be a redhead while I’m here being Meghan, now would it?” I sipped my water.  It had been three months since we’d traded  keys, names and lives.

“No, it wouldn’t,” Meghan giggled and looked around.  “I hope we’re not seen.”

“We should be ok,” travelers moved around us, everyone with their own agendas, the guys behind the bar making drinks and taking money.  If anybody saw us at the airport, they would recognize strawberry blond ‘Meghan’, and hopefully just think the red-haired woman looked familiar.

I pushed a water bottle towards her, “you’ll be in Paris for six months on this work-study, right?”   Plenty of time for me to finish what I’d started here.

“Yes.  I’m just so amazed I get to go and study art in Paris!”  She gulped the water, “Mother never encouraged me and always said I’d do something as foolish as art over her dead body.”

We laughed.  Well, she was almost dead; it wouldn’t be long now.

“How is Mother,” she capped the water bottle, “still bossy and angry?”

“Oh, you know Mother.”

“Really, Danielle,” her brows scrunched together, “are you sure you don’t mind being the dutiful daughter for a little longer?”

“No,” I smiled, “I finally get to have the family I never knew growing up in the child care system.”

I’d hit the jackpot; a rich mother, semi-comatose after a stroke, a nurse to care for her, a maid, a cook, a good-looking guy who’d been pining for Meghan for years, what was not to like?

“I still can’t believe I never knew I had a twin,” Meghan reached and squeezed my hand, “have you found out if Mother knew?”

“Yes, she knew.”  I sipped my water and watched the pain and anger on Meghan’s face.  It was our skinflint grandfather who bundled me off at birth without telling our Mother, but Meghan needed to stay angry at Mother, so what was one more lie?

A toddler at the next table cried while his harried parents tried to deal with him and his baby sister.  They made enough noise to cover our conversation.

“So, you’ve got everything with the name Danielle, like we agreed?”  I finished my water.

“Yes.  Passport, ID, home address, all of it is yours,” she patted her carry-on bag, “it’s been so great staying at your apartment.”

She looked at her watch, picked up her carry-on.  We stood and hugged again.

“Give Pearsey a hug for me, will you?”  She hiked the carry-on strap over her shoulder, “She was always so good to me; even let me help her in the kitchen.”

“Pearsey’s gone, Meghan.”

“Gone?  I thought she’d be there until they took her out in a coffin.”

“She decided to retire after a fall down the basement steps.”

“Oh, poor Pearsey,” Meghan was walking backwards, still talking, “I’ll go visit her after I’m back in town.”  She waved, turned around and walked briskly back up the concourse.

I’m sure Pearsey would appreciate a visit to her grave.  This life was wasted on Meghan.  I was doing her a favor, really.  She’d never learned to fight.  I’d survived by clawing my way up out of a nightmare.

It might be weird getting rid of a twin, an identical twin.  If she cooperated, I wouldn’t have to.  If not, I wouldn’t let sentiment get in the way; I never had.

I checked my watch; perfect timing to meet Kevin, the youngest of the family attorneys, at our favorite restaurant.  He’d been trying to date Meghan for years and now his dreams were coming true.