How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE


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Ferry to Labrador

Luggage outside the door and breakfast at 8:00 a.m. Leave hotel at 9:00 to catch the ferry 30 minutes later.

Silly me. After breakfast, I told sister Mary we needn’t rush as bus boarding wasn’t until 9:30. At 9:01, the hotel phone rang. Everyone was on the bus. Waiting. What? We rushed out and I kept apologizing. Some eye-rolling commenced, but everyone seemed good-natured about it. I cast my eyes to the floor, praying for it to open and swallow me whole.

To give us all a different perspective from the bus, Francis moved our seating two rows forward each day. The wife of one couple, sitting across the aisle, began a tirade that the practice had stopped. She was wrong, and this was only day four. My first mistake was not ignoring her. I was reading after all. The second one was nodding (though non-committal), hoping the conversation was over. I turned back to my book. She called the guide, who explained he did move names every day, but she didn’t understand. He stayed calm and finally walked back to his seat.

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We arrived at the ferry in good time to board, bus and all. A hatch like a car hood yawned open and Shawn drove us inside. The holding area was already half-filled with vehicles. Francis led us up three flights to a wide, empty center, large enough for a big dance party. Facing the huge expanse of windows, bar-type tables and chairs hugged the perimeter

For health and safety reasons, an announcement came over the intercom advising the location of rafts and life jackets. I didn’t understand the rushed message. Deep water and the talk about it gave me the chills. The engines hummed. They became louder. We watched the door through which the vehicles had entered, descend and close like jaws on a shark.  I felt the ferry floor vibrate beneath my feet. We crossed from Newfoundland to Labrador across the Strait_of_Belle_Isle. The distance is only about nine or ten miles, but the ferry doesn’t travel in a straight line. The crossing took about an hour and can take up to ninety minutes.

Someone heard about a school of dolphins and fish. We raced to the poop deck, but all we accomplished was a sharp slap of freezing wind in the face when I opened the door. Also no whales. This tour had been added after the close of the tour season because the travel company had such an overflow of tourists interested in making this trip. No whales. No puffins and no lobsters. All gone. Moved off. We’d come too late to Newfoundland.

Upon arrival, our group was called to gather by the Information Desk for disembarking. The stairs were narrow and a fellow passenger with a cane in front of us tried hurrying. Mary warned him to take his time. I was shocked to see cars parked with a hair’s breadth between them. It didn’t take long for the cars in front of our bus to drive off and allow our exit. There wasn’t room to slide a sheet of paper between our bus and the car beside and in front of it. Shawn inched the bus back to open the passenger door. He barely squeezed inside himself.

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WE arrived on a strip of Quebec and drove through L’Anse aux Clair (cove of life), the road traffic moved at a crawl. Here you can change your watch back to Newfoundland from Quebec time. Fog rolled off the St. Lawrence, thick and soupy.

Today’s Chuckle:

A taxi driver picked up a nun. She noticed him watching in the rearview mirror after she got into the back seat. “Is something bothering you, my son?”

“I’m sorry, Sister. I’d rather not say.”

“Go on. I may be a nun, but I’ve heard a lot of things in my time.”

“I’ve had this fantasy, Sister, my whole life, of kissing a nun.”

“That’s alright, son. I can oblige, but I have two conditions. You must be Catholic and unmarried.

“I’m both of those, Sister.”

“Pull in there son.” She pointed to an alley.

Ten minutes later, they came out. The nun noticed the driver crying. “What is it, my son?”

“I lied, sister. I’m not Catholic; I’m Jewish and I’m married.”

“That’s alright, my son. I’m Kevin, and I’m going to a Halloween party.”

Next on February 12th: L’Anse L’Amour

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles.

For more related posts, click on Newfoundland / Labrador tab at the top of the page.

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New Featured Sunrise Header for February 2016

Elizabeth honors me by featuring a sunrise on her blog for the month of February, which I took recently. Yeah, me. It looks better than I remember. Thank YOU.

Before Sundown

 

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Sunrise by Teresa Karlinski

HOW THE COOKIE CRUMBLES

An irreverent view of life after SIXTY-FIVE

https://letscutthecrap.wordpress.com

Teresa Karlinski “Tess” is a single grandma to two little girls.  Her philosophy about life “ I just want to keep on rocking (I don’t mean the chair, I mean TO the MUSIC!)”

There’s an empty rocking chair on her front porch!

Image 2-2-16 at 10.15 AM

You Rock On, Tess!

Untitled.png You Rock

Untitled.png Tess

In fact, she’s quite the Rock On Traveler! You’ll want to visit her blog site to see the places she’s gone. It’s apropos that the Header Sunrise was taken from a plane window! Tess did incredible sequential sunrise shots while going back to Toronto in January 2016 from Vancouver to Calgary.

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Sunset 2014 Niagara on the Lake (Ontario)

Sunset 2014 Niagara copy

Tess also says that she wants to “s-q-u-e-e-z-e” out as much living as she can! And she’d like all blog visitors to join her! Since she…

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#BlogBattle Week 47 – Prompt: Forest

To join in the fun and / or meet the wizard behind this challenge click below:

http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/

Rules:  

  1. 1000 wordsmax
  2. fictionaltale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG(no more than PG-13Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered aroundthe theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainmentvalue!
  6. State the Genre of your storyat the top of your post.
  7. Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
  8. Use the hashtag #BlogBattle when tweeting your story, put a link back to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/orinclude a link to this page in your own blog post(it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post)
  9. Have fun!

Each winner will receive the awesome #BlogBattle Winner Badge to display with their winning story on their webpage.

**********************************************************************

chest-371386_960_720 Pixabay

Image  from Pixabay. No attribution necessary.

Along Came Polly – Part 2

Part 1 here

Grace’s eyes swept the attic one last time. Enough for one day. Her sister grumbled, teetering on the ladder, an arm hugging a box and the other white-knuckling the beam.

“You okay, baby sister? What’s the matter? Out of shape?”  She stooped near the top of the folding ladder with a chuckle. Forehead glistening, Polly glared back, face a blistering red. “Going to live to your 60th birthday?” She shrieked with laughter till she choked with a coughing fit.

Polly stumbled to the floor below and released her box. Thump. Folded at the waist, she gasped for air, knees clutched as she heaved. “Make way. Coming down.” Grace sing-songed in a cheerful voice. The ladder quivered and creaked beneath her weight. Her sister already halfway to the kitchen, booted the box down the hall. A tap gushed water. A cupboard door slammed. Arms around her box, Grace peered around the corner. Her sister gulped water as if it might be her last chance to drink. She grinned and whacked the wall with the flat of her hand. Polly spun round, the glass grasped tight, eyes huge behind tiny granny glasses.

“Something in the dust you ate? Settle down, Grace. Aren’t you thirsty and tuckered out?” She grabbed another glass, filled it with water and handed it to her sister, who glugged it too. Simultaneously, the women dropped into chairs eyes locked on each other. Polly broke the stare first. Slamming her glass on the table, she giggled like a school girl. “You should see your face.” Yanking the kerchief off her head, she wiped her forehead. “I’m all sticky. Mind if I take a shower first?”

“Go. Where’s the day gone? I’ll rustle up something to eat. What do you feel like?”

“Surprise me.” Polly, rescued overnight bag in her hand, had made her way half-way to the bathroom, her voice faint.

* * *

 “How many boxes do you suppose there are?” Polly settled on the floor in front of the sofa, slicing the air with her mug. “A couple dozen?” Tucking the fluffy white robe from her sister’s guestroom around her knees, her chin pointed at the ceiling.

Eyes glazed, Grace shrugged in her pink velvet robe and stifled a yawn.

“Did you see the trunk buried beneath the boxes? I’m anxious to peek inside first thing tomorrow. What if it’s locked?”

“We’ll find a way.”

“Grace, are you all right? Too much, too soon? You haven’t had time to recuperate after the flu. Off to bed with you.” Led by the arm, her sister toddled down the hall to her room. “Sleep as long as you like. Don’t you dare get out of bed till you smell the morning coffee.” Polly pulled back the covers and padded the mattress. “First, hugs.”

The boxes in the living-room had lost their appeal. Plunked on the carpet like discarded presents, Polly eyed them with trepidation, but only for a moment. Ignoring her cooling coffee, she tore the top off the nearest box, her curiosity overpowering. Envelopes of bills and receipts bound with disintegrating elastic bands filled the box to the brim. Mouth pinched, she removed layer upon layer of envelopes. Disintegrating rubber crumbled in her hands and onto the gray carpet. On the bottom lay a large record book. She flipped through the pages, stopped and blinked. Wait a minute. What is Uncle John’s signature doing on the checks? The bills were in her grandfather’s name. Some checks were for five hundred and one for a thousand dollars made out to cash. Strange. Why cash and why such large amounts with Uncle John’s signature?

A page floated into her lap, less yellowed than the book pages. Light-headed as if floating in a dream, Polly dropped the book and unfolded the paper, heart clenched like a fist. Unable to focus on the writing, she closed her eyes. Why am I so nervous? This has nothing to do with me. Her head hurt as if gripped in a vice. She peered at the writing. A birth certificate? Still the words swam in a murky fog. She gripped the sheet and brought it to her nose. Too close. Back again, the words became clearer, sharper. Polly dropped the paper as if her hands burned and stared into space. Not possible. She covered her face, rocking against the foot of the sofa.  No. No. No.

Her cell chirped in her handbag on the sofa cushions. Not wanting to talk to anyone, she ignored the phone, but as always her curiosity won. She dug the cell out of her purse.  Tommy. Why didn’t he give up? How many times did she need to explain she liked her singlehood? Re-marrying was not in her future. She chucked the phone to the cushions concerned with more important matters.

This must be some kind of mistake. She planned to do a birth record search online, but not tonight, though tempted. This latest development had sucked the life out of her. Not confident she would sleep, Polly threw the paraphernalia back into the box anyway, shut off the lights, and tiptoed to the guestroom, the unsettling evidence clasped to her chest. She stopped at her sister’s door, her ear to sleeping mumbles. A chilling thought struck her. Sometimes, a forest of trees hides what you’ve always known or thought you had.  

To be continued

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles


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Grenville Centre and St. Anthony’s

I welcomed thoughts of lunch after traipsing through muddy fields and over long boardwalks at L’Anse aux Meadows. A welcome relief, the drizzle stopped. Our designated stop: The Norsemen Restaurant. Hardly a surprise after I spied this tall fellow across the road:

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Lunch arrived almost as soon as we settled at our tables: soup, a shrimp wrap, and coffee, which cooled before I had an opportunity to drink it.  I noticed Francis, our guide didn’t have the chowder, nor the shrimp wrap, as did the majority of the tour group. Maybe he has a cholesterol situation?

Actor who portrayed a Viking and who played at lunch:

Wade, the Viking at L’Anse aux Meadow must have rushed cleaning up, changing and driving to the restaurant. Accompanying himself with a guitar, and sometimes the squeeze box, he entertained us with rousing Newfoundland songs. I enjoyed his voice and found him agreeable to look at as well. He sold CDs of his songs and stayed during his lunch hour, but had to rush off again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rmfibS-sXk

Credit: montane

While visiting the gift shop at the back of the restaurant after lunch, a glass cabinet slid off the pegs and the glass shelf crashed. It sounded like an explosion. No one even stood within close proximity of the display case when it happened. A staff member decided the cause had been from vibration on the floor from all the visitors passing by in the narrow hallway. We were the only busload of tourists there.

A female neighbor who lived close to the restaurant rushed over to ask from where we had come. She wasn’t shy to say she made a habit of visiting when a bus arrived. We talked for a few minutes. She knotted the bottom of her shirt, a wistful gesture if I ever saw one.

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I didn’t feel quite satisfied after the small lunch, but the bus waited and we were on our way again to St. Anthony to visit the Wilfred Grenfell Museum, which used to be home to Dr.Grenville and his family.

I wonder how Victo Dolores at https://doctorly.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/bend-over/  might like this doctor. A good old-fashioned one?

Newfoundland Time  is one and a half hours ahead of Ontario and Quebec. Newfoundland used to be their own country, but when they joined Canada, they decided not to change to Standard time.

Like the random gardens we passed earlier, I noted lots of chopped, stacked wood along the roadside whether there were houses in the vicinity or not.

Unlike where we live in Ontario, the small grocery store we passed was closed Sundays. Gas stations were open and offered snacks, souvenirs, tees and wine. In Corner Brook when we asked a resident where to buy wine, she’d said only the liquor store. ”You can but all the beer you want at the gas station, but no wine,” she said. Hmm. I scratched my head. Do the rules change from town to town?

The red light problem on the bus from the previous day had been corrected. The company responsible for servicing the bus rebooted the computer, which runs the electronics. Everything is ship-shape now.

Smile for the day:

How can you pick out a Newfoundlander in heaven? He’s the one who wants to go home.

* * *

Next on February 5th: Labrador by Ferry

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles.

For more related posts, click on Newfoundland / Labrador tab at the top of the page.  


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#BlogBattle Week 46 – Prompt: Indian

To join  and / or meet the wizard behind this challenge click below:

http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/

Rules:  

  1. 1000 wordsmax
  2. fictionaltale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG(no more than PG-13Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered aroundthe theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainmentvalue!
  6. State the Genre of your storyat the top of your post.
  7. Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
  8. Use the hashtag #BlogBattle when tweeting your story, put a link back to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/or include a link to this page in your own blog post(it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post)
  9. Have fun!

Each winner will receive the awesome #BlogBattle Winner Badge to display with their winning story on their webpage.

**********************************************************************

Attic Window Pixabay

Along Came Polly

Grace rolled up her sleeves. Where to start? The attic had twenty years of dust hugging every surface. The deep footprints she made reminded her of an old horror movie with no idea which one. She knotted a kerchief over short, auburn hair. Even this slight movement stirred a cloud of fine powder. A roaring sneeze shattered the spooky silence. Eyes stinging from the force of the unexpected eruption, she covered her face. No point putting off the inevitable anymore. She’d put the job off for weeks already. Moving day loomed large. So much to do in six short weeks. Grace uncovered her face and sneezed again. “Maybe I should vacuum first.”

The Kirby, too heavy to lug up and down the ladder, she loaded the old canister model into an orange plastic leaf bag, heaved it over her shoulder and mounted the ladder again. Good idea, but was there a plug? The low-watt, naked bulb hanging on a cord wasn’t much help. She scrambled down the rungs again for a better bulb and flashlight.

No matter how careful, she stirred gagging clouds in her path. The bulb, too hot to change, Grace flicked on the flashlight and ground her teeth. More slow work. Feathery cobwebs clung in clumps in the corners, undulating as she passed the light in columns over the wall surface. No plug on the first wall, nor the second. She stamped her foot, realizing too late what she’d done, and choked on particles of stirred up dirt, again. Shoulders slumped she wanted to give up. “Work with me,” she said with clenched teeth to the watching shadows. A distant sound from downstairs caught her attention. Head cocked she froze to listen. The muffled dong of her doorbell called to her. “I’m coming,” she said aloud though no one heard and grinned to herself. A reprieve. Down the ladder, she plunged fast as her throbbing legs carried her.

“I’m coming.” She wrenched open the door. “Polly—what a surprise. Come in. Come in.” Her sister, a fuchsia overnight bag at her feet, smiled wide, and threw open her arms. Grace blinked, chin tucked over her sister’s shoulder. “Your timing couldn’t be better. I finally made it to the attic but haven’t accomplished a thing today.”

“Isn’t that the reason you invited me?”

Grace stood back. Squinting, she studied the face before her. “I did? When?”

“A month or so—I think. I wondered what you’d find after all these years… If my missing diary might be in one of the boxes.”

Grace chuckled. The back of her hand erased the frown lines from her forehead. “I remember. Funny, I finally made it up there the day you decide to come. How long can you stay?”

Polly clutched her purse and luggage. “As long as you like. Phew. You smell like dust and mouse droppings. Tea first.” She dropped the small bag by the closet door and kicked off her sneakers. “Traffic was brutal. Seems the whole world is either going to the beach, cottage, or a driving vacation.” She swooped down the hall to the kitchen as if she lived there. “Supposed to be high eighties by the weekend.”

Grace already had cups out and the kettle on. The kitchen smelled like a bakery. A batch of cranberry bran muffins cooled on the counter from earlier that morning. “Guess we better put a dent into the junk upstairs before the heat hits. Muffin?”

“How’s it up there today?” Polly ran a hand through her mud-brown hair. “Like the cut?” She turned her head this way and that.

“Lovely.” Grace reached over to stroke the springy curls. “Dark and dusty. I found a plug up there for the vacuum. Hope it works.”

* * *

The plug worked fine. The women vacuumed and wiped down every surface with a dampened cloth. Polly wasted no time digging around inside boxes. “Why don’t we take some of the more interesting ones downstairs to poke through at our leisure?”

They worked in silence, the howl of the vacuum between them. Polly whooped over the noise. Grace switched off the power. “What?” Her eyes grew enormous.

Polly approached her sister. In each hand, she clutched two golf ball-size balls, all striped red, white and blue. “Remember these? Indian rubber, right? How many could you juggle? Three—no—four at a time.”

“Four. I must have been about nine? You wanted to sell tickets for a show starring yours truly. Already a wheeler-dealer at six.” A faraway look in her eye, Grace grabbed two balls, tossed one to the floor and snatched it as it sprang past her shoulder.

“Wheeler-dealer me. I wonder could you still do it?”

Grace shrugged. “Tennis balls were better for juggling off a wall, though. These babies kept punching me in the face until I acquired the proper feel for them.”

Polly giggled. “Remember the night Mom thought you’d been in a fight when you showed up with a black eye? She didn’t believe you blinked and slam!”

“It hurt like… Hey we’re done here.” Grace dropped their find into her apron pocket. “Pick a box. I’m curious what we’ll find—maybe even lovesick Polly’s teenage diary. Come on.”

The End

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

 


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L’Ance aux Meadows

We entered and registered at the motel through the main lobby. While investigating the door at the other end of our room, we discovered it was another exit to the outside. There were no step(s) down there either. Who worries about mothers-in-law here?

Early on Sunday morning around 8:39 a.m., like Saturday, we saw no traffic on the road. Houses were vinyl sided against weather and salt. Wood needs painting often and it’s too expensive. Vinyl saves work and money. At first only one or two boring colors were on the market, but now a good vinyl paint is available in many colors.

It’s strange to watch history movies, music videos, and listen to music on a bus on video screens like on an airplane. This is a new experience and I had no sense of where I am. The day before and today so far, we’re stuck on the bus covering miles of empty highway (few cars) in rainy, foggy weather, the landmarks drab. At least it’s only drizzle and not a downpour.

We’re lucky the bus is new, the seats deluxe with comfortable footrests. On this kind of day, I could kill for a coffee though I’ve had three at breakfast. The mist hangs low and is dismal. Fog shrouds the scenery around us, painting the landscape in a veil of heavy, listless gray.

Our fellow travelers were foot tapping and singing along to earlier music. By 9:53 a.m., several were already snoozing. The music slowed to something soothing for a rainy day at home. It should have been peppy again to keep us awake. Even my sister closed her eyes and snored. I never sleep in a moving vehicle, as someone has to keep an eye on whomever is driving.

I can’t get over the towns we’ve passed through. We were almost to Cape Onion, the farthest northern point of Newfoundland. Plenty of parked cars, water puddles and houses, but no people. Hallelujah, a truck passed in the opposite direction. Everyone on the bus sat straighter. I hope we see a moose and truly shake it up today.

Sue at traveltalesoflife.com would have had her bicycle in her carry-on and gone off to find another adventure, I think. Would you Sue?

At 10:06 A.M., we passed the house of Annie Proulx, known as a Saltbox house. (Finally a bright spot!)  Annie is best- known author of The Shipping News and Broke Back Mountain, both of which made fantastic movies. She lives in Wyoming and Newfoundland, and is the author of many engrossing books. I know I took a picture of her house, but it’s disappeared.

Norsemen left Greenland and came across Labrador first at L’Anse aux Meadows (now a World Heritage Site). Leif Erikson landed at wonderful sandy beaches with trees as far as the eye could see. The population here has been at most 100. (Today about 20, the number unchanged in many years.)

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In the museum, a replicas of a Norseman and woman:

George Dekker, a local in 1960, wondered about some mounds. Archeologists found Norsemen not Indian paraphernalia, i.e.: cloak pin and iron boat nails. The site has risen at least two meters. After the dig, the building were revuried for future generations.

Insulation (sod, I think):

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Replicas of buried house sites:

Inside actors play the part of the life of Norseman life. They were cooking with seal oil, a most unpleasant smell, unlike what we today know as oil.

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Sealing is one of the occupations at which Newfoundlanders could make a living, but it was dangerous. Our guide told us not to criticize the killing of seals because this work supported the Newfoundland people. They do not kill babies.

 On the bright(er) side:

Two churches stood across the road from each other, one Catholic and the other Anglican. The priest and minister were outside talking. A couple of young men came along in a car.

“Turn back, young fellas, before it’s too late.”

“Go home you crazy apes.”

They took off and a loud yell followed.

“Maybe we should have warned them the bridge is out.”

* * *

Winter in Canada – Should You Get Out of Bed?

Next on January 29th – Grenville Centre and St. Anthony’s.

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles.

For more related posts, click on Newfoundland / Labrador tab at the top of the page.


67 Comments

#BlogBattle Week 45 – Prompt: Dive

To join  and / or meet the wizard behind this challenge click below:

http://rachaelritchey.com/blogbattle/

Rules:  

  1. 1000 wordsmax
  2. fictionaltale (or true if you really want)
  3. PG(no more than PG-13Content – let’s keep this family friendly!
  4. Your story must contain the word(s) from the theme and/or be centered aroundthe theme in a way that shows it is clearly related
  5. Go for the entertainmentvalue!
  6. State the Genre of your storyat the top of your post.
  7. Post your story on Tuesday, by 11:59 PM PST
  8. Use the hashtag #BlogBattle when tweeting your story, put a link back to your #BlogBattle Short Story in the comments section of this page, and/or include a link to this page in your own blog post(it creates a “ping-back” which will alert me and our friends to your #BlogBattle post)
  9. Have fun!

Each winner will receive the awesome #BlogBattle Winner Badge to display with their winning story on their webpage.

***********************************************************

woman-933488_960_720

Goldilocks?

An unusual number of parked cars clogged the street in front of her apartment. Sandy grumbled and turned left twice to the underground garage, at the back of the building. She reached for the remote but it wasn’t on the visor. “Where the…?” An impatient car horn sounded behind her and inched forward closer. She tapped her horn back at him. Wait. The driver laid on the horn again like there was a fire.

Though early spring and breezy, Sandy’s armpits soaked through her light jacket. Blinking in concentration, she pawed the passenger seat, in the crevices, and on the floor. No luck. Her head snapped at the thump on her driver’s window unable to identify the face bent towards her.

“Open the window.” A man’s voice growled the words, and pixel by pixel, she discerned a human face: short clipped beard, mustache, angry brown eyes, nose skimming the glass. “Well?”

She snapped into action and cranked the handle a couple times. “Sorry. I’ve misplaced my remote. Let me in with yours and I’ll be out of your hair.” She wound up the window, forced a smile and set her hands on the steering wheel. Eyes bulging, he threw his hands into the air. Muttering something colorful, he slapped the window again, and stomped off. Heart racing like a thundering locomotive, her focus on the garage door, Sandy gripped the steering wheel. The double-door creaked and yawned open. Without skipping a beat, she lurched forward and around the corner to her designated spot.

Parked, then out in a flash, she noted the remote on the floor on the driver’s side. She dashed towards the trunk, grabbed her parcels and raced to the elevator. She did not intend to share the pleasure of his company in such a cramped space. Before the door slid shut, a hand plunged to the button on the wall outside without success. Muscles tense and rigid, Sandy shrieked and watched the door slip to its final destination. “Yes!”

The elevator stopped on the third floor. Sandy grasped the handles on her shopping bags and backed into a corner. Old Ma Murphy, as the the tenants called her, tapped her way into the elevator, the splitting image of the famous Einstein. “Hello, dear. Don’t you look a fright. Everything okay?”

Sandy raised a clutch of bag handles to her chest and exhaled. “Sure. I’m good. Had a tense moment with a nasty driver.”

“One reason why I never took up driving, especially these days.” The door creaked shut an inch from Ma Murphy’s behind. She poked her cane at the scruffy carpet. “Mrs. Swain is home from hospital. In need of pleasant company, she said. Going to make her tea.”

Sandy glanced at the red floor numbers. Creak. Creak. They stopped on five. Old Ma Murphy pointed the stick at her packages. “Ever wonder if you spend too much money on nonsense?”  She said, “Tsk-tsk,” circled round and shuffled out, shaking her head. “Young people these days.” The door scraped to a close and rocked upward taking its sweet time to the 11th floor.

Her floor was empty.  Already smells of early suppers cooking reminded her she’d forgotten lunch. Dropping the bags in front of 1105, Sandy fished for keys in her purse. She came up empty. This isn’t happening. It’s not happening. Hairline damp, she stamped her foot and tried again. Teeth clenched, fingers fumbled and clawed. They closed around the key ring. A door slammed in the hall, but she didn’t look up. Instead, she stabbed the lock and pushed the door with more force than intended.

Inside, she leaned against the closed door, eyes and ears on alert. Something odd hung in the air. A sixth sense held her back, wary. There couldn’t be anyone else in the apartment. She’d made enough noise to wake up the dead, hadn’t she?

The kitchen on her right, she tiptoed inside. No one and nothing. Why is it, she wondered, when you think an intruder might be in your house you don’t run for help? Instead, you choke on your heart, crossing fingers no one’s there. She grabbed the meat cleaver off the counter and almost called out, ‘Is someone here?’ Stupid question. Would an intruder answer, ‘Yes, me, the intruder.’ Living- and dining-rooms clear. Nothing worth stealing anyway.

Short of collapsing from tension, Sandy crept down the hallway. Had she shut the bedroom door before going out? She turned the knob with exquisite care, and pushed in the door, not allowing it to slam. The hair on the back of her neck prickled. One door left: the bathroom. She listened. Not a sound. A strong aroma of orange blossom bubble bath enveloped her.

Beyond terror now, Sandy wrenched the door open. A body took a dive beneath the bubbles, red-painted toenails trailed in the air. She’d recognize them anywhere.

“Clarisse. What are you doing here?” Hand thrust in the water, she shoved the head down, panting and collapsed on the floor. “How’d you get in?”

The body popped up, short hair clinging to scalp and face, gasping for air. A pale hand swept across her eyes and over her forehead, teeth gleaming like piano keys. “What a way to greet your little sister. Don’t you check your texts? We’re celebrating your promotion.”

“How’d you get in?”

“You gave me a key, silly.” Clarisse arched ink-black brows and rolled her eyes. “I buzzed and buzzed until a cute guy with a beard and mustache let me in.”

Sandy dropped the cleaver and covered her face. “You almost gave me a stroke.”

“Drama queen. Out—and then it’s your turn. We have a double date tonight.”

“Who? Not…”

Clarisse wiggled wet eyebrows.

The End

© 2015 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

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