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And you also think it could have been you, your mother. If your mother had been the type to drink and go out, instead of not drink and watch old movies with the shades drawn, her dark bedroom. It could have been you.
The first weirdness is that there is a touch screen kiosk, which really isn’t a kiosk but more like a mini ATM. Customers, like me, have to “state their business with the court” before they get a number. The options are: Tickets, Taxes, Passports, Permits—and maybe one other thing like that. It just so happens I go to the Clerk of the County Courts branch office on Valentine’s Day—a weird day for civic business but I need to pay our house taxes before the late penalty charge, which would be a big chunk and not something we can afford. I’m not late, though would be if I hadn’t reminded my husband Josue about it . He tends to wait until the last minute for everything and the other reason is he’s a cheap bastard and he doesn’t “want to give them even one day more with his money.”
Cath missed Annie. Of course, there were regular posts on Annie’s social media page, changes to her profile photo—most recently, in March, her newly pregnant abdomen, dramatically draped in stripes—but Cath wanted more from her sister than comments like “Really really tired tonight” or “Started jogging again!” Now that they were both living in small towns—Cath in the Tri-Towns as she still called them, Annie in Cobourg—she felt like they were travelling back in time together. A former history major, Cath had just finished a biography of the Strickland sisters, Catherine Parr Traill and Susanna Moodie, dragged out to “the Aweful Wilderness” of Upper Canada by their unfortunate men, there to suffer pangs of British homesickness while raising broods of children. But still finding time to write letters. Cath had just processed a new volume of CPT’s letters for her college library, taken it home. While she stirred the stew she was warming up for supper, she flipped the book open.
Truths about March’s marriage: James is a workaholic whose true loves are 1. His mother 2. His work as a surgeon 3. Clay. You’d have to ask him where his March fits into the equation. Try this scenario to test the math: If his family were on a sinking boat to whom would he throw the only life preserver?
It was a hand-me-down house.
In another century, it had been the work of a great-great uncle twice removed or some long forgotten grandfather that had never known she existed. In the days before war and hunger and dilapidating neglect, it had been a castle. Time had a way of chiseling away beauty. The structure had become nothing more than a dying member of the family, passed down from one unfortunate caretaker to the next. It was a relic of a gone time, usually falling into the hands of the person who happened to be most rooted in desperation at the moment.
It was the stroke. Everybody told him how “remarkable” it was that he had gained back so much movement on his right side. “A miracle at your age,” his doctor claimed. His children, who flew over during the whole affair, kept giving him these condescending Cheshire-cat grins. “Isn’t it great? You’re doing so well!”
Gordon did not agree. It was blatantly obvious to anybody that wasn’t under the spell of Polly-bloody-Anna that he had been a much fitter and happier person pre-stroke.