Copyright © 2013 by Larry M. Edwards. All rights reserved. No part of this work excerpt may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.
The DayMinder sits splayed on my desk, the date mocking me.
The telephone dares me to pick up the handset and punch the requisite keyskeys whose numbers have faded from wear, in part from the hundreds of times I've called before.
But this day I can't call, not even on her birthday. My sister Aileen* and I no longer communicatenot by phone, not by email, not by old-fashioned, handwritten letter. The pain lies fresh in my gut, a festering wound that recalls her betrayal.
I snort at the irony.
The unresolved murder investigation into our parents' deaths should have kept us united, strengthening our bonds. Three decades earlier, while our family crumbled around us, Aileen and I became the closest of friends. Only a year ago, I visited her in Seattle. We stayed up late drinking gin, lamenting over the justice our parents had been denied. We promised to see each other again soon. Meanwhile we'd continue our frequent exchange of emails and periodic phone calls, keeping intact what remained of our tattered family.
Now, even we no longer speak to each other. I imagine Dad, in need of a shave and wearing a varnish-streaked T-shirt, shaking his head and saying, "You have to learn to get along."
Dad's naïveté underlay it all. As a carpenter, he built sturdy homes. As a parent, well, things hadn't gone according to the blueprint. Not for him. Not for Mom.
I close the DayMinder with an angry flip of the cover and stomp to the kitchen to make coffee. While the water heats, I stand at the window, peering into the yard.
"You OK?" asks Janis, my wife. She pecks my cheek.
I circle my arms about her, nestling my face into the crook of her neck. "Yeah," I say, but it holds no conviction.
The whistling of the kettle draws me away. I pour steaming water into the waiting maw of the filter cone and savor the aroma as the black brew trickles into the mug.
I grip the cup and return to the window, like Mom used to do on a summer morning, eyeing the vibrant fuchsias she'd hung in baskets at the front of the house. The house that Dad built. For us. His family. A family now fading into a dusky memory, like the fuchsias' violet blooms fallen to ground, their color, their life, drained out.
What the hell happened?
What forces had converged for my family to end up this way?
We'd been a normal family, hadn't we? Once upon a time? I always thought so.
Except we weren't. Otherwise, my parentsLoren and Jody Edwardswouldn't have windmilled to the bottom of the ocean, fodder for bottom feeders. . . .