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Loretta Jackson and Vickie Britton
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In everyone's life, whether gradual or forced by outside circumstances, change is inevitable.
The characters in these stories face crucial problems and lose all sense of direction.
Change appears in the sinister form of an enemy in The Blameless. In The Angel of Darkness, it surfaces as the deadly inner-struggle of a young divorcee contemplating suicide.
Whatever the case, each person sets out on some new, sometimes frightening, course--no longer drifting.
When it seemed Nellie had but one option, she discovered in her “failure” how really to be free.
Voices surrounded Nellie threatening her like spurts of wind bent on total destruction. Her son’s voice, trained by tedious practice to assume a tone of calm authority, and her daughter’s voice, even more certain, never allowing for margins of error. Why did they speak in front of her as if she could no longer think or feel?
Snatches from Jane: “Mother’s not capable of...can’t live alone now.”
Snatches from John. She knew his gray eyes would be as somber as if he were calling in a note at the bank. “We can’t...Mother should...”
Nellie’s dark eyes remained locked on her shoes, drab, old shoes with bulging tops and the heavy-tread soles Jane insisted upon. Old woman’s shoes!
Once Nellie had looked down at white sandals, often carelessly abandoned on rug and beach; or spike heels that danced lithely half the night. Nellie’s feet now seemed immobile in their bulky, black encasements. Where had the time gone? Was it really Nellie Darby sitting here...listening?
Alone after Marvin had died, Nellie had selected the very best universities for her three children, the very best jobs. Only Linden, her oldest son, had evaded her careful molding. The other two were children to be proud of—the very images of prosperity and attainment. The logic she had always held up for them to follow now frightened her. The voices said, “It’s best for Mother...Villa Rest Home is tops...She’ll get the very best of care.”
Nellie’s own reasoning told her she had no options. John had an enormous home and no children, but she could not live with him and his wife amid the high-toned guests that swarmed year round. These personages were as much a part of their lives as the antique chandeliers and the crystal glass.
And Jane tried to juggle family and job—a success at both, but so busy, so very busy that she had no time cut out of it for Nellie.
Nellie straightened up. She would do what must be done. Make it easy for them. Pretend to be in good spirits. After all, she had fallen down, hadn’t she? The fact was she could not live alone any longer.
The phone rang.
“Mother.” Jane balanced the receiver between ear and shoulder. “It’s Linden.”
Nellie suddenly wanted to talk to Linden, but Jane turned away, grasping the receiver tightly. After a long silence, she said, “There’s no need for you to come back. John and I will take care of Mother. There’s absolutely nothing for you to do.”
“Let me talk to him,” John said. Sister and brother stood close, John, burly next to small, slender Jane.
More voices. Nellie’s eyes dropped to her shoes again, then roamed over Marvin’s gun case and to the brass stands that housed her flowers. She remembered when Jane had to get a chair to water the Swedish Ivy.
Jane said, “Linden will just cause trouble. He’ll make a fool of all of us the way he did when Father died.”
John nodded. “But what can we do? He’s almost here.”
“What does he want to come back for?”
“I don’t know.” John paused. “To top it all off, he’s driving that monster of a truck. He probably won’t make it past Austin.”
* * *
Moving to the Home, Nellie thought, was a little bit like dying. She watched quietly as Jane sorted the contents of the big China cabinet. “You won’t need all of this. I’ll just box most of it for charity.”
As Jane tossed books, mementoes, and pictures into a box to be discarded, Nellie longed to stop her. But Jane was right—most of it was unnecessary, just clutter.
Jane began packing Nellie’s books, books collected with love and care over a lifetime. Dramas, mysteries, classics. “Doesn’t anyone want to read them?”
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 214
Paper Weight (lb): 9.2
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