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Valued Social Butterfly
Posts: 8,623
Registered: ‎07-25-2008

Re: The Inheritance Revisited

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Message 1 of 92 (2,403 Views)

Chapter 92

 

Rebecca looked down the long deserted hallway. Every door was closed. The rooms must have been sound proofed because there wasn’t a sound coming from anywhere. Even the intercom that is usually going at all times in hospitals she had visited before was silent. The room on the left read “PRIVATE” and she thought it was probably locked. The first numbered room was on the right.

 

She stopped in front of Room 20. There was a card on the door reading “Chrissy”. It more resembled the kind of label that was usually worn at a meeting that read “Hello, my name is _________”. She happened to glance back in the direction of the desk and her eyes connected with Janice, who seemed to be in the exact spot where she had stood before. Rebecca wondered if she was waiting for something. Perhaps she was being observed for some reason.

 

Rebecca tapped on the closed door. The voice that called for her to enter sounded more of a child than of a woman.

 

A girl of about 14 was sitting on the side of the bed. The TV was showing a re-run of “The Dick Van Dyke Show”. She had to wonder if Chrissy was aware that this show had been running for almost 40 years. She almost envied someone who might be seeing the antics for the first time.

 

It was obvious that Chrissy was not really enjoying the show. An array of cosmetics was spread out over the bed and it was obvious they had been freshly applied, but they didn’t hide the slightly red eyes that showed there had recently shed tears.

 

Rebecca introduced herself and immediately Chrissy became the sassy 14 year old. Rebecca was determined to stay out of any drama with a teen-ager. There would be time enough for that later if things worked out the way she was thinking they might. She complimented the young girl on the color of her lipstick and the skill she had with her eye make-up. A small smile was about to appear before she realized it and then disappeared just as fast as it had appeared and was replaced by a little shrug and an eye-roll.

 

Rebecca walked on down to Room 22. A small while card read “Carolyn”. The voice who answered the knock was weak and gentle. Rebecca opened the door to see a woman sitting at the small desk who was as different from the girl next door as it was possible to be, except for possibly the skill with which the make-up was applied.

 

Carolyn was probably on the other side of 80. Her hair was most certainly white although it was dyed a pale blond. She was removing her glasses just as the door opened and Rebecca wondered if she was even able to see who was entering the room. A sketch book was in front of her and an array of pastel chalk was scattered about the surface of the desk. She might have been old in years, but her smile and the twinkle in her bright blue eyes were of a much younger person.

 

Rebecca introduced herself and commented on the painting in process. The woman held it up for inspection and it was obvious she was pleased with her work, as she deserved to be. The yellow roses might well have been real. A glance around the room showed that they were being painted from memory as no flowers of any kind adorned the room.

 

After a few minutes she was standing in front of a door that had no white card on the door. She thought it might be unoccupied but tapped on Room 24 anyway. The voice that called out seemed almost excited.

 

(To be continued)

 

 

Valued Social Butterfly
Posts: 8,623
Registered: ‎07-25-2008

Re: The Inheritance Revisited

[ Edited ]
Message 2 of 92 (2,443 Views)

 

Chapter 91

 

Once again sleep intruded on the thoughts, blotting out the shame she felt for what she had done. This had been happening many times in the past few days and it had been a welcome rest. She had lost all track of time. No news shows were allowed on the TV set in her small room. It made her think of the parental controls she had for the children. It didn’t bother her to be unaware of anything outside the four walls of this pleasant room. It didn’t occur to her that drugs were being placed in the meals and snacks that were brought to her every few hours. It wouldn’t have bothered her if they had.

 

The sun was rising as Joanie awoke and she knew right away that something had changed. It was the same view she had seen every day since she arrived, but this morning she looked out the window and noticed birds and trees and the mountains in the distance. And it was beautiful.

 

The door opened and it was a woman who she believed to be a nurse, bringing her breakfast tray. She noticed her name tag: Janice McEntire. “I just realized we have the same initials”. For some reason this seemed to fascinate Joanie.

 

The nurse seemed a little puzzled at the reaction from the woman who had shown little interest in anything during the week she had been here. Janice had been given no information on the occupant of Room 24, but knew this was in the area frequently used for observation. In fact there was no name at all on the door to the room and no case history or diagnosis hung on the end of the bed. She hated to admit that she didn’t know he patient’s name but it certainly made her curious.

 

“I was just looking out the window and wondered if I could get a bit of fresh air today.”

 

Janice was totally unprepared for this. It was the first time there had been any interest in leaving the room.

 

“I will let you know later”, she said, wondering who would be the appropriate person to tell about this request.

 

After delivering the rest of the breakfast tray with no further surprises, the patient in Room 24 was still on her mind. Janice was a lowly aide and had no access to patient records and was mainly ignored by the other staff members. Normally this was fine with her. She rather liked being in her own world with her own thoughts and nobody asking her questions that she believed were none of her business. Yet she knew this was not the first time that Room 24 had struck a chord with her.

 

She returned the cart to the kitchen and returned to her station to see if there were any instructions. This was usually a quiet period when much of the staff took their break and she thought she might have a chance to look at the records that she knew must be somewhere. Unfortunately this was not the case today. A very attractive woman was standing at the desk and walked toward her when she was still several feet down the hall.

 

“Hi”, she said with a large smile showing lots of perfect white teeth. “I’m Rebecca DeCosta.”

 

Janice noticed she was wearing a visitor’s pass that identified her as Dr. Rebecca DeCosta. Janice had been trained not to ask questions of doctors.

 

“How can I help you?”

 

“I’ve been given permission to talk with some of your patients, I understand there are only a few occupants in this area and it’s largely used for observation. Is that correct?”

 

Janice nodded.

 

“Do they have any schedule that I need to adhere to?”

 

Janice shook her head.

 

“Well then, I’ll just go knocking on doors and see what I find.”

 

Janice watched her walk down the hallway toward Room 20.

 

(To be continued)

 

Valued Social Butterfly
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Registered: ‎07-25-2008

Re: The Inheritance Revisited

Message 3 of 92 (2,855 Views)

Chapter 90  (Word prompts: hindsight, recognition, reality, decisions, stubborn, heat, breeze, watermelon)

 

Joanie felt the tears begin as she watched the flickering on the TV screen. Spanky and the rest of the gang were eating watermelon while the dog waited patiently for scraps to fall. It was the first time she had thought of her own family. She briefly wondered if this meant she was a bad mother, but she was still too tired and confused to worry about that. She tried to think how long it had been since she had seen them. It could have been weeks, but she thought it was just a few days. She tried to remember yesterday.

 

She remembered trying to drive the children to school and getting a flat tire. Had that been yesterday? With orders for the kids to stay in the car, she set out to walk to a house just down the road, leaving her phone in the car in case the kids needed it. The reality of her situation had hit her in the face as she walked in the early morning air. She had no funds for a new tire. She had barely been able to get the gas tank filled the day before and a few groceries for dinner and this morning’s breakfast. She had no idea what she would do for the coming days.

 

She had always been too stubborn to ask for help, but the time was coming when she would have no choice. She needed some temporary funds even if she was able to find some sort of job. At the same time she felt more tired and sick than ever before. Without some rest she wondered how she would be able to find a job, or even work if someone felt sorry for her and hired her.

It had seemed a blessing when a car stopped just ahead of her and she realized it was Jason and it had been his car that created the slight breeze she had felt as she walked. She had just turned around and noticed she was now out of sight of her own car and it had struck her as how alone she felt and the decisions that had to be made.

 

She hadn’t intended to say anything about her predicament to anyone, certainly not her brother-in-law. Things had not been good with her sister for years and the last thing she wanted was to hear “I told you so” from her. But in hindsight her tongue had a mind of it’s own and it all tumbled out.

 

She felt the heat rise in her face out of shame at the recognition of the things she had told Jason, things she had never told another living soul, things she was only now admitting to herself.

 

(To be continued)

 

Valued Social Butterfly
Posts: 8,623
Registered: ‎07-25-2008

Re: The Inheritance Revisited

Message 4 of 92 (2,969 Views)

Chapter 89   (Word Prompts: generations, thread, spider web, mud, upturned, thunder, porch swing, overgrown)

 

Madison had thought very little about the contents in all the basement boxes. In fact, she had given very little thought to the basement at all. But she was suddenly flooded with memories of Robert’s mother showing her the pride of her porcelain doll collection, looking very much the overgrown child on Christmas morning. The doll had worn a pink lace dress. She had dark blue glass eyes, blond hair and a tiny upturned nose, not very different from those dolls of past generations.

 

She remembered that was the day there was a bond formed between the two women. It was months before she and Robert had discussed the topic of marriage. In fact it was only about the third time she had been introduced to his parents. On the other two visits they had been polite but definitely on the cool side. On this day they had been sitting on the porch, Doris on the swing with a box beside her. George was in the wicker chair with a glass beside him. Madison and Robert had sat side by side on the wicker love seat.

 

Robert had asked about the contents of the box, even though he was uninterested but trying to make conversation while his father did his duties as the bartender. The drinks arrived just as the doll emerged from the box and there was never a comment from him but Madison had immediately been reminded of her mother’s story of yearning for such a doll as a child. She told the story which prompted Doris to talk of her own childhood. That was the day they had become friends.

 

Madison was ready to dig into the stack of boxes when she spotted a spider web. It appeared to be unoccupied, but she decided it would be a good idea to have a weapon in hand, just in case.

So lost in thoughts of the past was she that she was paying no attention to Rebecca or what she was saying. She caught the thread of her comment about Johnny and reasoned it had nothing at all to do with dolls.

 

“Let’s get some coffee and talk”, she said, leading the way back up the stairs. Boxes full of other people’s memories would have to wait for another day.

 

She hadn’t noticed from down stairs that the sky was darkening to a great degree, but a crash of thunder and the flash of lightning lit the kitchen just as she was putting water in the coffee pot. As if on cue the door flew open and the kitchen was suddenly filled with humans and dogs. The latter came equipped with muddy paws, the former with wet clothes.

 

Soon everyone was in action. Craig headed toward the linen closet for towels while Rebecca and Stan herded the children to the bathroom to get them out of their wet clothes. Madison headed toward the various closets and drawers in a search for clothes the children could wear while she washed and dried the wet things. All she was able to find was some T-shirts that were large enough that Pearl would need a belt to keep from tripping on the bottom. But there was no need to worry. From the sounds coming from the bathroom, the children were having the time of their lives.

 

(To be continued)

 

 

Valued Social Butterfly
Posts: 8,623
Registered: ‎07-25-2008

Re: The Inheritance Revisited

Message 5 of 92 (3,022 Views)

Chapter 88   (Word Prompts: fox, invent, disappearance, camera, ignite, magic, elusive, adaptable)

 

She thought she must be dreaming when she opened her eyes to see the black pointed nose of a red fox not six inches from her own nose. She knew it couldn’t be real or the dogs would be going crazy and she decided to roll over and see if she could recover the elusive surf that had been so refreshing.

 

But it was Rebecca’s voice that refused to allow that. “If you sleep now you’ll be awake all night. Besides, we are finding really great things in those boxes in the basement and since they now belong to you we need to know what you want done with them.”

 

That was when Madison noticed there was an arm attached to what was obviously a hand puppet. “We were wondering where you disappeared to. We thought you were coming right behind us.”

 

“How long have I been asleep? It took you long enough to notice I was missing,” Madison found she was feeling a bit hurt that they didn’t notice she was missing.

 

“Well, it couldn’t be more than about ten minutes. The children had just found this box when we got downstairs and were pulling all of the puppets out when I told them they should ask you if it was OK to play with them. That’s when we realized you weren’t there. Craig asked where you were and was going to come looking. I thought you might be taking a bath or something so I volunteered.”

 

Madison was still feeling a bit groggy as though she had been in a deep sleep. It was hard to believe it had been only a matter of minutes. “I think I need some coffee. Come with me to the kitchen.”

 

They didn’t notice that Daisy and Tedi didn’t follow them until they reached the kitchen and found that Socks and the pups had found the box of treats which had all disappeared, leaving only the shredded box on the floor. She had to laugh at the look of guilt on the pups. She thought Tedi and Daisy would be sad they had not joined the party.

 

“Are Craig and the children still downstairs? Should I go down now?”

 

“No, they’ve all gone to the store to get something for dinner. I told them I would stay here and get the grill started. I hope I can get it ignited, but I think we have time for some coffee and a chat first. I thought it would be good if we had a little time alone. I’ve really enjoyed staying here and I know there’ll be lots of time soon, but it seems we’ve had no time alone this weekend. I’ve noticed that you’ve been having to adapt to what everyone else has wanted to do.”

 

Just hearing Rebecca acknowledge that she had noticed lifted Madison’s mood as if by magic. She thought about trying to invent an explanation for her strange mood, but realized there was no need to do that with Rebecca. She would understand. But then she realized there was no need to explain at all.

 

“You say you’ve found interesting things downstairs?”

 

“Yes. Do you have any idea why Robert would have children’s stuffed animals?”

 

“I imagine they belonged to his mother. As I remember she had a love of things like that. She had grown up in a family with little extra money and I know she had some porcelain dolls so stuffed animals wouldn’t be out of the question either. Did you find the dolls?”

 

“Not so far. We did find some photographic equipment and we had to explain to the children what a camera is. We also found a box of old records but nothing to play them on. The kids didn’t know about those either. Perhaps we will find the dolls and the stereo behind some of those other boxes. But I promised the kids I would ask if they could take some of the stuffed animals home with them. I think it would be good if they could.” For the first time Rebecca appeared to be concerned for the children.

 

(To be continued)

 

Valued Social Butterfly
Posts: 8,623
Registered: ‎07-25-2008

Re: The Inheritance Revisited

Message 6 of 92 (3,056 Views)

Chapter 87   (Word Prompts: cherry, petals, anticipation, dreaming, future, floating, nostalgic, conversation)

 

Madison had not anticipated the sounds of laughter that greeted them from the basement as soon as they opened the door. If she had been a believer in such things this would have seemed a conspiracy designed to throw her into the realm of nostalgia between Megan‘s musings and now this. The calypso music drifting from the basement made it obvious that Robert’s old albums had been discovered. It was that music that had inspired their first trip to Jamaica.

 

Stan and Rebecca headed downstairs toward the party and seemed not to notice that Madison headed upstairs instead. She was in no mood for conversation with anyone right now and certainly not the festivities that she imagined as taking place in the basement. She had discovered years before that she needed a bit of alone time and it was well past due.

 

Instead of going to the room she had been using she was pulled toward the one used by Robert. The photo was still on the dresser where she had found it months ago, but she hadn’t really looked at it since then. A wave of memories hit her as she looked at the young smiling faces that looked back at her. She barely recognized herself as the same person she had seen in the mirror this morning. A person can change a lot in twenty five years.

 

Her hair was longer than shoulder length. She could almost taste the cherry red planter’s punch in the glass before her. She remembered removing the blossom that floated on the top of the drink and placing it behind her ear so that the petals gently brushed her cheek.

 

She felt the tears begin to form and knew it was certain they would not be stopped. Just as the tears began to flow down her cheeks she shoved the door closed with her foot, not noticing that Daisy and Tedi were almost to the top of the stairs.

 

They were not accustomed to being locked out and their whines and scratches on the door penetrated the sound of her sobs. Afraid that the noise would alert the others she let the dogs into the room. Tedi immediately saw the need for comfort and placed her muzzle on the knee and licked the few salty tears from where they had dripped onto the hand. Madison realized this might be the first time Daisy had experienced this sort of outburst from her mistress and seemed unsure as to how to react but she was a quick learner and took her place on the other side. The gift of comfort from the dogs made even more tears flow as she grieved the loss of what had been and what might have been.

 

She didn’t remember how she had happened to lie down and go to sleep, sandwiched between the dogs, but she did remember the dream of two lovers feeling such joy as they ran on the beach with the sound of Harry Belafonte’s “Yellow Bird” playing in the background. They were laughing at each other as they jumped into the sea, having no idea of what the future would hold.

 

(To be continued)

 

Valued Social Butterfly
Posts: 8,623
Registered: ‎07-25-2008

Re: The Inheritance Revisited

Message 7 of 92 (3,074 Views)

Chapter 86  (Word Prompts: cherry, petals, anticipation, dreaming, future, floating, nostalgic, conversation)

 

Even though the conversation was completely one-sided, Megan painted a clear vision of a Robert that Madison didn’t remember, or possibly had never known. She found herself floating in some sort of dreamland in which she was plucking the petals off of imaginary daisies. “He loved me, he loved me not” was playing through her mind. It was as though the person she was hearing about was a totally different person than the one she remembered. She rather regretted she hadn’t known the person that Megan and her husband had known.

 

The trip through nostalgia-land was interrupted by Stan and Rebecca returning from their tour with several questions about the property. Madison took advantage of the break by walking over to inspect the largest of the paintings hanging on the wall. She had been right, it was clearly a large “M” at the bottom and even though the rest was scribbled she thought it was “Megan”. The second name looked to begin with an “S” but the rest was totally illegible. There was a date on the bottom, “o4”, which she assumed was the date for the painting. That meant it was from the same era of which she had been hearing. She had to think what she had been doing at that time, but that would have to be later as her name was being called.

 

Rebecca was busy making plans and thinking of how the house would fit. It was clear that she was anticipating signing the lease in the very near future.

 

She was thrilled to find there had been a sort of guest house in the rear that would allow her to keep her professional life separate from her personal life without the necessity of renting a second location. Megan had set it up as her studio. Also Megan was thinking of leaving the house furnished until she decided exactly what she was going to do after she moved to the city. It seemed the only problem was the fear that Megan might want to return if things didn’t work out in Atlanta. That was why she wanted to rent the property instead of selling it. Rebecca didn’t seem to think that would be a problem.

 

Stan reminded her of the other property that Josie had told them about and they decided to at least drive by. Madison found herself hoping they liked that one better. The woman in the cherry colored blouse had made quite an impression on her and she found herself wanting to know her better, which wouldn’t be possible after she left town.

 

It wasn’t until they arrived back home that Rebecca mentioned how quiet Madison had been all afternoon and expressed concern.

 

“I guess I am in a rather strange mood today. Perhaps we can talk about it later.” Madison had no desire to talk about feelings she was having about Robert, or any other relationship of her past, in front of either Stan or Craig. She was well aware that, once again, her past was invading her present and she needed to prevent it from affecting her future as well.

 

(To be continued)

 

Valued Social Butterfly
Posts: 8,623
Registered: ‎07-25-2008

Re: The Inheritance Revisited

Message 8 of 92 (3,085 Views)

Chapter 85   (Word Prompts: cherry, petals, anticipation, dreaming, future, floating, nostalgic, conversation)

 

She was like no widow Madison had ever seen. Hearing the name Megan would not have brought this picture to mind either. She thought of Craig’s tales of hippies in the area and wondered if this was one who had stayed. Her colorful skirt, which looked hand dyed, was just short enough to show the bare feet with a golden ring on the big toe of each foot. The blouse was a bright cherry red and sheer enough to show the line of a matching camisole underneath. It seemed an array of love beads should be presented but her neck was bare.

 

Later Madison would wonder about her age, but at the time she was too fascinated by the earrings that seemed to magically float above her bare shoulders. She knew they must be some sort of flower but only occasionally did a single petal make it’s way out of her long blonde hair. She had the impulse to brush the hair aside so she could have a good look, but she knew that would be rude. Perhaps she would stop talking long enough to make a comment and her curiosity could be satisfied.

 

Oddly, Megan had paid little attention to Rebecca and Stan, just sending them on their way to look around. Her interest seemed to be entirely on Madison.

 

“So, you are Madison Morrison. Let me look at you. I’ve been anticipating meeting you but never thought I would find you at my front door. But you look just like I pictured you.”

 

Madison was at a loss of what to say as she concentrated on the earrings which seemed to have a life of their own.

 

“Oh, how rude of me. Please come in and have a seat. I have some tea and cookies. It’s amazing how one gets the urge to bake when I should be doing something else.” She ushered Madison into a large room at the back of the house. The large windows looked over a back yard where two dogs seemed to be chasing squirrels.

 

“Here, have a seat on the couch. I’ll be back in just a moment.”

 

The room was warm and comfortable and just as colorful as could be expected. The walls were covered in paintings with very bright colors. They appeared at first glance to be abstract but as one looked longer, the human form could be seen. Madison yearned to look at them more closely and to see the signature at the bottom. From where she sat she could discern the letter “M” and thought she must be having tea with the artist.

 

The tea and cookies arrived and the one-way conversation continued. “of course you are probably wondering how I happened to know about you. Well I guess it’s one of those strange things. I was the real estate agent who sold Robert the house years ago and my husband and I became personal friends for a while.” She became quiet for a moment, but just as Madison was ready to make a comment, the monolog continued. “It’s hard to believe they are both gone now, but I always say it’ the future that counts.”

 

Madison felt she was trapped in someone else’s dream as the trip into nostalgia continued. The cookies were very good and Madison wished she hadn’t had dessert just a short time before, but the hostess didn’t seem to notice. Nor did she take time to drink from the cup that was before her. Madison thought it was made, or at least inspired by the same artist who did the paintings, but didn’t interrupt the ramblings. It was rather interesting to know how much she had been on Robert’s mind during those years when she had given him barely a thought.

 

(To be continued)

 

Valued Social Butterfly
Posts: 8,623
Registered: ‎07-25-2008

Re: The Inheritance Revisited

Message 9 of 92 (3,092 Views)

Chapter 84   (Word Prompts: cherry, petals, anticipation, dreaming, future, floating, nostalgic, conversation)

 

It was a pleasant meal, although a bit more rushed than Madison would have liked. Craig was anxious to get another load for his new workshop and the children were enjoying the adventure. Rebecca was filled with anticipation for the future she was planning. Madison wondered why she seemed to be the only one with no plans for the future and then shoved those thoughts into the recesses of her mind and tried to focus on the conversations of the others.

 

Madison had to smile at the pleasure of the children as they finished the last of the cherry pie. They had never had it with ice cream on top and she could tell this would be a new favorite and would be requested often when they were back with their parents. Of course this prompted that uneasy feeling of wondering what it would be that the children would be facing. Things seemed pleasant enough now, but what about later? She was saved from further thoughts on that subject by the cheerful entrance of Josie who had the address of an additional property that she insisted Rebecca should look at before a decision was made. Rebecca took the note with a pleasant smile and a “thank you” while the note went into her pocket where it would probably be forgotten.

 

It was only a few blocks to the address from the computer. Madison was more interested when she realized it was in the same area as the day care where she had picked up the children. She thought again how much things had changed in such a short period of time. It was no wonder she was having difficulty adjusting. Those times had always been difficult for her to handle, feeling trapped in limbo. And she hated to admit that she was feeling a bit resentful at the lack of time she had been able to spend with her best friend. Even thinking that made her feel she was less of a friend when the others seemed so excited.

 

Rebecca pulled up in front of a house with some sort of flowering tree in the front yard. The blossoms were white and made Madison think of apples or pears. She remembered there had been a pear tree in her back yard when she had first bought her house but had died after only a year or two. She hadn’t thought of it for years, or of how much she had enjoyed the spring days of standing in her new back yard and watching as the petals fell from the trees, knowing they would soon become fruit. A wave of sadness came with this bit of nostalgia and all that had been lost since that time. The tears began to form as a petal floated in front of her face and fluttered in the breeze until it finally landed in the grass on the other side of the walkway.

 

She was so deep in her daydream that she hadn’t even realized they had reached the front door until she heard her name called and realized introductions were being made and they were being ushered inside the house by one of the most unusual women that she had ever met.

 

(To be continued)

 

Valued Social Butterfly
Posts: 8,623
Registered: ‎07-25-2008

Re: The Inheritance Revisited

Message 10 of 92 (3,116 Views)

Chapter 83   (Word Prompts: faceless, burrowing, widow, cottage, charming, reflection, obligation, dancing light)

 

She was unaware of the passing time as she lost herself sketching an unknown family made up of faceless people. It seemed a long time since she had felt such a sense of peace with Craig and the children outside. She could hear the murmur of voices from the other room as one or the other commented on something they saw on the computer that looked interesting. Tedi, Daisy and Socks had burrowed under the table and were taking their late morning nap. The pups were getting their exercise outside with the kids.

 

It was lunch time when Craig came inside to say he was taking the kids back to his house for another load of tools and supplies for the workshop they were building. Stan and Rebecca joined him in the kitchen to ask if Madison would like to go with them to look at a property they had found that looked promising. At first Madison was inclined to remain at home and wondered if they really wanted her company or just felt an obligation to ask. Then plans were being made to go to the diner for lunch and she decided she didn‘t care about the motives and was more than ready for an outing.

 

Craig went on his way while Madison and Rebecca freshened up before appearing in public. Finding themselves in front of the mirror at the same time, Madison was struck with how her friend’s reflection showed that years of stress and strain seemed to have vanished from her face. She had to wonder if she was aware of this and she tried to examine her own image more closely to see if there were similar changes.

 

She didn’t have a lot of time to contemplate the situation as they had agreed to meet Craig shortly as lunch would be first and then he would get the truck loaded while the others looked at real estate. Rebecca was excited about a property she had found that was being rented out by a widow woman who was going to live with relatives in another town. That was why she was willing to see them on a Sunday. She was hoping to handle the transaction herself rather than turn it over to a realty company. Rebecca liked the idea of meeting the woman rather than dealing with an impersonal company so it seemed to be a win-win.

 

They were pulling out onto the highway when Madison noticed the birds lined up on the fence. The sun was so bright that the light danced off the shinny black feathers.

 

“Look at the crows”, cried Rebecca. “A good luck omen!”

 

Madison had never thought of any kind of black bird being a good omen. For some reason they always made her think of Alfred Hitchcock, but since she had been seeing them lately it was nice to think of it as being a good thing so she didn’t argue.

 

Cars were lined up outside the diner when they arrived and Craig’s truck was nowhere to be seen. All the booths seemed to be occupied as were the stools at the counter. Madison wondered if they had made a mistake coming here for Sunday lunch and thinking about calling Craig when she heard her name called from the back.

 

“Come on back here”, cried a young woman who looked of high school age. When they joined her it seemed she was taking them to the kitchen but instead they were ushered through a door just before the entrance to the rest rooms where they found Craig and the children talking to Josie.

 

“I thought you might enjoy all eating together this time”, laughed their hostess. I usually charge extra for using this room, but sometimes I make an exception for my favorite people.”

 

Madison thanked her and wondered how many favorite people she had. But it was a pleasant room, obviously available for small groups, although it seemed to only large enough for about a dozen people or so. It held two circular tables, each with six chairs. A high chair had been pulled up to one of the tables, although Pearl did not seem happy about using it.

 

“I hear you are looking at some houses this afternoon”, said Josie. Madison knew she had been giving Craig her version of Twenty Questions.

 

Rebecca told her of the place they were going.

 

“Well, that’s a charming cottage all right, but very small. If you want something a bit larger, let me know. I know of several places that would be ideal.”

 

They promised to let her know if this one didn’t work out and she went on her merry way to see about more customers who had come in.

 

(To be continued)