There could be no end to Day’s End. She wouldn’t listen, so I did the only thing I could think of. I tied my city sister to the kitchen table.
Loosely, of course, like when we were kids.
“Are you out of your mind?” She wriggled her wrist out of the thin rope, shooting eye daggers at me.
“We can’t sell it. Please, Jane. We grew up here. The Day Family of Day’s End. Remember how romantic we thought that was?”
“You let old people stay here practically free. Their payments barely cover your expenses. The buyer is offering a pretty penny. You could move to town with me.”
Now the daggers came from me. The impasse of a decade hung in the air between us once more. Her business suit life clashed with my denim dreams.
“Look, Jessica, I admire what you’re doing here. I get it, I do. But these folks aren’t destitute. They can go into a home much nicer than this.”
“I don’t know how you could admire it when you’ve barely visited in ten years.”
“It hurts too much. All the memories. Mom and Dad are gone.”
“But I’m still here.”
Tears brimmed her eyes. Home run. I knew she loved me, so I guess it was a low blow.
Miss Claire shuffled in, shifting her walker sideways through the door. “I’d dearly love some orange juice.” She nodded her gray head at Jane.
“Sure, Miss Claire.” I jumped up and poured her a small glass. She downed it before the refrigerator door closed.
“Time for my stories,” she said, wrangling that walker back down the hall at a quick clip.
“Wasn’t that mother’s nurse? Claire Collins?” Jane’s eyes widened with recognition.
“Yes. Remember how she read the Bible to mom, and brushed her hair?” Miss Claire’s comfort helped Mom through her slow cancer death.
Jim Leeds pushed open the kitchen door with his cane. His Westie, Max, followed, panting from their walk. “Beautiful day,” he said, tipping his cap. He shook Jane’s hand. “Nice to see you, Janie, been a long time.”
He turned to me. “Claire watching that trash again this afternoon?” He quickly led Max down the hall.
“He rags her about those soaps the whole time she’s watching them, but I think he’s secretly interested in them as well. Funny old guy.”
“And Dad’s best friend.” Jane crossed her arms and smirked at me.
So? I shrugged it off. Wasn’t he more like an uncle to us than just Dad’s best friend? Wasn’t he there for us when Dad died?
“Remember those peppermints in his pocket every Sunday to keep us quiet while Mom and Dad sang in the choir?” I reached for her hand.
Jane grinned with the remembrance.
Gershwin’s Prelude #2 wafted down the hall. Mrs. Beane loved to annoy Miss Claire by playing piano during her soaps.
“Isn’t that the melody our old piano teacher used to play? She’s living here, too?”
“Of course. Jane, these folks may have money enough to live elsewhere, but they have no family. They meant something to our parents and to us. It makes me happy. Can’t we please find another way?” I steeled myself against her protest.
She didn’t answer, but moved to the hallway. “Remember her glasses down on the end of her nose, pointing her finger saying, ‘Practice, practice, practice!’?”
“She tells me that every day, and I haven’t played for years.” I followed her down the hall.
Jane learned more than she ever wanted to know about The Young and the Restless in the hour that passed. Mrs. Beane gave her a piano lesson and Max dozed on her lap. Mr. Leeds told stories about Daddy’s childhood. The years fell away as our laughter filled the old place.
“You know, Jess, they are only going to get older,” she whispered as she put on her coat.
“As are we, my dear.” I secured her scarf around her neck.
“Speak for yourself, and,” she stopped and bit her bottom lip.
“And what? Throw them out and pack up?” I held my breath. I didn’t want to argue with her anymore.
“Just get that piano tuned.”
Jane headed back to the city, our heartstrings retied. Hope for Day’s End glowed like the sunset over the pines.
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