Wednesday, August 3, 2011

No exit.

I'm looking forward to some relaxation tonight.

Because it was a long day.

But it was time to see what was up with the ladies, and this entry essentially wrote itself.

Thanks so much for the positive feedback; especially the completely galvanizing email I received today. 'Mary - I am addicted - Please keep writing!!!'

Who can say no to that?

Stella was shaken by a sense of uncomfortable familiarity when she and Maisie entered the church to pay their respects to Bob Engelbright.

Maisie knew Stella well enough to know when it was time to leave well enough alone, so Maisie acted as if everything was normal, considering the circumstances.

Everyone has secrets.

Stella didn't know that Maisie had thousands of dollars stashed in her bra, and Maisie had no idea what Stella meant when she said that things could get ugly.

So each of them kept quiet, which seemed to be what the mood of the room suggested at the Open Arms.

Unlike many funerals they'd attended in the recent past, Bob Engelbright's crowd fell within the ladies' age range. So Stella and Maisie didn't feel the least bit out of place as they navigated their way through the walkers and oxygen tanks to find a place in the makeshift mid-century sanctuary.

Like people who found a place to settle in the '80s and decided to stay there, people who hit their high note in the '60s tend to enjoy surrounding themselves with familiar artifacts.

This Eames era familiarity embraced Maisie and Stella as they took their seats in chairs that would now be considered to be post modern.

But they didn't know that fancy reference.

They just knew they needed to relax, each with their own secrets.

So it came as a somewhat anticipated shock when Stella felt a comforting, familiar squeeze on her shoulder.

She'd hoped that the passage of time had rendered herself unrecognizable to him. She'd hoped that she and Maisie may have simply blended into the grieving crowd, unobtrusively.

And then, after the service was over and they'd paid their respects, she and Maisie would have some lunch.

But there he was, standing behind her.

Someone turned on a cassette recorder to signal the beginning of Bob's memorial, and Amazing Grace filled the room.

Stella was relieved. Despite the bandleader role she'd assumed with Maisie, Stella didn't like confrontation. Thankfully, the music required a level of contemplative respect.

But there was no avoiding him, eventually. She knew he was sitting right behind her. She could feel it.

Then she smelled a hint of Old Spice, felt his hand on her shoulder again and heard him say in a whisper, "Why did you leave?"

Stella had every intention of staying for the entirety of Bob Engelbright's memorial. Instead, she whispered in Maisie's ear.

"I'll meet you in the kitchen."

Stella quietly walked out.

Like the windfall of cash Maisie had kept secret from Stella, Maisie had no idea why Stella got up.

Maisie just assumed Stella needed to use the powder room.

As Stella left to find the kitchen, Maisie began singing along to Amazing Grace.

Stella was suddenly envious of Bob Engelbright's exit strategy.

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