Angels in the Attic
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Angels in the Attic

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I wrote this story in 1995 and had it available on my personal web site for many years. Then I lost track of it and only recently found it again via the Wayback Machine on Archive.org. Many......

I wrote this story in 1995 and had it available on my personal web site for many years. Then I lost track of it and only recently found it again via the Wayback Machine on Archive.org. Many thanks to whoever thought to archive it there!

I'm posting it here so that I can embed it on my main web site at: http://amygoodloe.com

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  • 1. Angels in the Attic copyright © 1995, 1998. Amy T. Goodloe do not reproduce without permission It was almost midnight when the train pulled into Beverly Station. Emily stepped out into the brisk January air and realized that it was too late for the taxis, and much too late to call Edward or Mrs. Wells, so she snapped out the tiny wheels on her suitcase and headed towards Lothrop Street, taking only those streets that were well lit. In the two short weeks she had been in Georgia she had forgotten about the bitter cold of Massachusetts and wished she had a pair of thermal underwear on under her skirt. The streets were lined with mounds of dirty snow, but at least it was snow; in Atlanta December had been milder than usual, and she had worn shorts on Christmas day. The old, gray house looked dark and empty against the moonlit sky. Emily stopped on the steps and looked out over the ocean, at the view she had missed seeing every morning. As quietly as she could she turned the key in the old brass lock and let herself in, careful not to bump the hard plastic suitcase against the walls. Mrs. Wells and Edward would have been asleep for several hours, she realized, but they may have left her a little note in the kitchen. Sure enough, on the counter was a little jar of Mrs. Wells' homemade fudge with a red ribbon around the neck and a note propped up against it. "Welcome Back, Emily! We missed you!" The note was signed by both of them but it was written in Edward's small, neat handwriting. She took a piece of fudge out of the jar and nibbled it slowly, staring out the kitchen window at the starlight twinkling on the ocean. "I'm going to miss this place," she thought. She put the jar away in her section of the cupboard and lugged her suitcase up the staircase. At the top of the stairs she saw the little Christmas tree she and Edward had decorated, leaning slightly to the left and shedding needles. As she opened the door to her room the smell of vanilla candles greeted her. "That's funny," she thought. "It's been at least three weeks since I lit a candle in here, yet the scent is still so strong." She put her bag down in the middle of the room and stepped towards the desk to turn on a light. Emily gasped when she saw the angels. Stretched across each of her four walls was an intricate garland made of white nylons and lace, decorated with homemade angels, about four or five on each wall. Each angel was completely different and Emily walked towards each one to examine them more closely. One was made from an old barbie doll, its wings fashioned out of toothpicks and aluminum foil; another was made of twigs tied together with red thread, a cotton ball for it's head and bows of lace for wings; yet another was made out of black construction paper with silver glitter and fake pearls glued to it. Emily backed slowly towards her small, twin bed and sat down, trying to take in the whole garland at once. She reached out her hand for support and then stood up quickly and turned around, her heart racing . She looked around the room, at the open closet, under the bed, in the corners, and saw no one. But the bed was warm, as though someone had just been sleeping on it. ~*~ The first time Emily saw Rebecca she had only seen her from the back, and in fact had only seen a flurry of white fabric and glitter. She didn't find out until later that it was Mrs. Wells' granddaughter. She had spent the day on the beach, working on her tan, and was walking back towards the house in nothing but her bikini. Edward and Mrs. Wells sat on the porch, drinking tea, and Emily sucked in her stomach when she saw Edward. She pretended not to notice that they were there until Mrs. Wells shouted "Yoo hoo!," and then she shielded her eyes and squinted at them. "Oh, hi!" she said, tilting her hips slightly. "Lovely day, isn't it?" she asked, tossing her towel casually over her shoulder. "Just beautiful," Mrs. Wells replied. "Would you like to join us for tea?" "Sure," Emily said. "I'll be right up." Out of the corner of her eye Emily saw something white and shiny fluttering from the top of the house, from the tiny balcony Mrs. Wells called the "widow's walk." She stepped back to get a better look, but whatever it was had disappeared. "What is it, dear?" Mrs. Wells asked, following Emily's gaze. "Oh, nothing. Just birds on the roof." COPYRIGHT (c) 1998, 2011 Amy Goodloe all rights reserved http://amygoodloe.com
  • 2. ~*~ She had lived in the old house on Lothrop Street for several months before she found out who was leaving her the gifts. Several times a week she would come home from teaching to discover a little pile of shells by her door, or a collage made from magazine clippings of roses and angels, or once a shoe box with little plastic figurines pasted to the bottom. One time she found a pile of white feathers surrounded by a delicate braid of pink tissue paper. Underneath the feathers was a tiny plastic horse with a bit of lace tied around its neck. When Emily had moved into the house she had determined not to fall in love with the other boarder, Edward, who was from South Africa and spoke with a cheery British accent. But he was so unlike American men, so secure in his masculinity that he had no need to show off for her, to prove himself. They chatted easily over dinner, and sometimes sat together in his room watching TV. She often heard herself laughing nervously in his presence, sometimes asking his advice on matters she already felt confident about, and her behavior both annoyed and excited her. But Edward was extremely conventional, nothing if not absolutely proper, and the idea of him cutting out pictures of roses from magazines and leaving them at her doorstep seemed silly. And then there was the singing. Long after Edward and Mrs. Wells had gone to bed, Emily would sit up grading papers and planning assignments, late into the night. That's when she would hear the voice, a soft soprano, singing words and melodies that she couldn't quite make out, but that seemed vaguely familiar. For weeks she had wandered the house in the moon light, trying to figure out where the voice was coming from, until she realized with a shudder that it came from the attic. One night Emily stayed up particularly late, working her way through a set of essays and listening to her new collection of classical renditions of Ave Maria. When she turned off the stereo the music seemed to continue, and she realized it was the voice in the attic, singing the words to Schubert's version, softly, sweetly, but clearly audible. She stood out in the hall and listened, sure that Mrs. Wells or Edward would wake up and come out to see what the noise was, but their rooms remained dark. The next day at dinner she decided to ask Edward if he knew what was going on. "The woman in the attic?" he asked, not in the least bit surprised. "Oh, sure. That's Mrs. Wells' granddaughter, Rebecca. Didn't you know she lived here?" Emily had no idea. "You mean she lives in the attic?" "Not exactly. She lives in the house. Or rather, she comes and goes as she pleases. Sometimes she stays in the attic for weeks." "But why haven't I ever seen her? What does she do during the day?" Emily only taught two classes at the community college, so she spent quite a bit of time at home. She had never seen or heard anyone else in the house in the day time, except for Mrs. Wells of course. "I'm quite sure I have no idea," Edward said. "But no doubt you have seen evidence of her around. Tea cups with eight bags of Orange Spice tea in them, children's books propped open on the stairs, little lace bows tied to everything. The child is very fond of lace, and of all things white. Take care you don't leave your sugar cubes where she can get to them, as she rather enjoys making castles out of them." Emily realized that she had seen those things around the house, but had just assumed... what? That they belonged to Mrs. Wells? She wasn't sure what she had thought all those times; her mind had simply rationalized them away, and she had never asked anyone about them. "Child? How old is she?" "Not much younger than you," Edward said. "Twenty five, I believe." Why was a twenty-five year old woman living in her grandmother's attic, singing sad, sweet songs late at night and cutting pictures out of magazines? "The little gifts, then," she said. "Those must be from Rebecca?" "What gifts?" Edward asked. "The little collages and figurines and things I find at my door every couple of days. I have a whole collection of little things, mostly of them white, now that I think of it, and involving lace in some way. I have them in a box upstairs in my closet."
  • 3. "Why haven't you mentioned this before?" Edward asked, as though she had been keeping an important secret from him. Emily didn't know. She didn't want to admit her fantasy that they were from Edward, because she knew how absurd that was, but she hadn't really given it much thought beyond that. ~*~ Mostly Emily thought about teaching, about her students and the ways she could help them build self esteem through their writing. Almost all of them had given up on college on the first go around and were back now only because the New England economy forced so many factories out of work. She had taken the job, her first after graduate school, under the assumption that she would help the kids learn to deconstruct the dominant culture. She had looked forward to showing them how the "five paragraph theme" structure that had been drilled into them in high school was nothing but a type of thought control, a way of limiting the free expression of ideas by sacrificing meaning to form, but she discovered that most of them didn't even know what a paragraph was. And in their late twenties, thirties and even forties, they were hardly kids. Her contract with the college was only for a year, and then she planned to move back to Atlanta to start work on a Ph.D. at Emory University. Nothing in her master's program had prepared her for the students at North Shore Community College, in a city known best for the jingle that everyone sang about it: "Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin; you won't come out the way you went in." Emily wasn't sure what that meant, but she knew from the taunt, worried faces of her students that life in Lynn wasn't easy, and that first year composition meant more to them than an excuse to party and goof off. Even the younger students were serious about the work, determined to make a life for themselves and, in most cases, for their children. Before moving to Massachusetts Emily had never seen a pregnant teenager before; on the North Shore they were everywhere. ~*~ "Why don't you come sit with me on the porch," Mrs. Wells asked her one day, "And tell me about your students." The porch, along with all of the other rooms except the kitchen and their own bedrooms were off limits to Emily and Edward, but occasionally Mrs. Wells would invite one or both of them onto the porch for afternoon tea. Emily often told her stories about her students, about their lives and their aspirations and the things they would write about. Mrs. Wells and Edward were both fascinated by her tales of student angst. "Sure," she said. "I'll be right there." "So, dear," Mrs. Wells asked, as Emily settled into her chair with a cup of cranberry tea and a plate of oatmeal cookies. "Are you feeling any better about that poor Lisa?" Lisa Munroe had been one of her most promising students, a bright, bubbly girl of nineteen, with a three year old daughter and dreams of becoming a legal aide. She had hand-written a little note with her first paper, explaining that she had never written an essay before and was afraid that this one would disqualify her from the class. The assignment had simply been to use description, the most basic of the five modes of rhetorical analysis Emily was required to teach, and Lisa's essay had been fantastic, easily among the best in the class. She had described the process of giving birth with such vivid detail and delicacy that Emily had dreamt for weeks that she, too, had experienced it. But when Lisa's father found out she was in school, rather than working a second job, he threatened to fight for custody of Lisa's daughter and Lisa withdrew. Nothing Emily could say would change Lisa's mind, and she had never felt so helpless. "Not really," Emily said. "I still wish there was something I could have done, some way I could have convinced her that her father had no right to threaten her like that. She had so much talent, has so much talent, that it just breaks my heart to think of her working in some fast food place, with no future and no time to read or pursue the things she loves. What kind of life does that man want for his daughter? For his granddaughter?" "Sometimes parents think they know best," Mrs. Wells said. "But of course they often don't." Emily wondered why some people chose to have children, if indeed they had chosen it. Or was it just an accident for some? Simply the by-product of youthful couplings? She envied her friend Jane, who would only have children when she and her partner, Margaret, were ready for it, and not a moment sooner. There was no need for them to worry about "accidents." "What could be 'best' about working two dead end jobs?" she asked, wishing she had the chance to ask this of Lisa's father. "At least with a college degree Lisa has a chance of earning above minimum wage, and of maybe working regular hours. I don't know how she does it, now. Who takes care of her Mandy, I wonder?" "There are some day care centers funded by social services," Mrs. Wells said. "My Diane had to send her children to
  • 4. one when they were young, when that good for nothing Jack left her without so much as a dollar to her name. Mind you they aren't in the greatest shape, and I have reason to believe they don't look after the children properly, but it's better than nothing." Mrs. Wells didn't talk much about her family, but Emily knew that she had two daughters, Ruth and Diane, and that Diane lived only a few miles away. Ruth and her husband and their four kids lived in Iowa, on a farm, and came to visit during Christmas, but she saw Diane nearly every week. Rebecca was Diane's daughter. "How old were the children when Jack left?" Emily asked cautiously, worried that this might be too personal a question. "Well let's see," Mrs. Wells replied, cupping her chin in her small, bony hand. "I believe Jeff was about four, so Rebecca must have been, what, six or so? When she was ten she ran away from home, and again at thirteen and fifteen, but then she seemed to settle down. She met her friend Mary about that time, and they were inseparable." Mrs. Wells paused and took a deep breath. She closed her eyes and Emily wondered for a moment if she had nodded off to sleep. "That girl has given Diane no end of grief," Mrs. Wells continued, opening her eyes. "She works so hard for her children, trying to provide things for them, to make a better life for them than she had growing up. Not that Ralph and I didn't do the best we could, mind you. But those were hard times. Ralph made a few bad business decisions and we lost everything when the kids were still so young. I don't think Diane has ever forgiven her father for that, rest his soul." Emily had never really given much thought to married life before, other than the little fantasies she sometimes had about having a home and a family with Edward. Listening to Mrs. Wells she realized that she wasn't at all sure this was what she wanted, that she enjoyed the fantasies but couldn't imagine the reality. The only thing she had ever really wanted to do was teach; it was the only thing in her life she was sure of. ~*~ The morning after Emily came back from Christmas in Atlanta she awoke to the familiar smell of eggs, bacon and coffee. And ginger. Mrs. Wells liked a little fry little pieces of ginger in butter and spread them on her toast. "Oh, my dear," Mrs. Wells said, grasping Emily's shoulder with one hand, "it is so good to see you again." "What a pleasure to see your lovely face," Edward said, standing up from the table and taking her hand in his. She knew that he had waited to say hello to her, that he would be half an hour late for work, and she was flattered. He took one last sip of his coffee and took the cup to the sink. "We'll have to catch up later this evening," he told her, as he zipped up his parka and opened the door to the garage. "Careful you don't get caught in the storm, dear," Mrs. Wells said as he left. "What storm is that?" Emily asked. "Oh, a big one. They say it should be here by tonight or maybe some time tomorrow morning. I've got to get to the grocery store right away. Diane should be here to get me in a few minutes." While they waited for Diane Emily told Mrs. Wells about Christmas in Atlanta, about seeing her family and her sister's new baby, the presents she had received and the meals they had, her mother's excitement over her moving back to Atlanta in the summer. "And how was your holiday?" Emily asked, knowing that Mrs. Wells had worried about where Rebecca would go on Christmas day. She and her mother didn't get along at all, and Rebecca refused to be in the same room with Diane. "It was nice," Mrs. Wells said, smoothing her gray hair with her hands. "We had a nice, quiet dinner on Christmas day, Jeff, Diane, Edward and I, and played a couple of games of cards. Jeff played his guitar a little and Edward and I sang." "And for New Years'?" Emily asked. "Ah, uneventful as always. I watched TV and fell asleep at 10:30!" Mrs. Wells giggled softly. "But on New Years' Day there were a few surprises." Her expression changed suddenly, deep wrinkles creasing across her brow. Just then the side door opened and Diane walked in. "One minute, dear," Mrs. Wells said, and began collecting her things. "I'll be right there."
  • 5. ~*~ For two days all of New England waited for the big storm to hit, and just when everyone decided it was a false alarm, it happened. In the space of several hours the ground was covered in three and a half feet of heavy snow, with drifts piling as high as five feet in some places. That night, as she sat in her room plotting assignments for next semester and listening to her new Bach CD, Emily heard a loud cracking noise outside and suddenly the lights went out. She looked out the window and sure enough, all the street lights had gone out too, although the smooth, white snow glowed brightly in the moonlight. Emily loved candles, and had at least a dozen of them place around her room, but she had run out of matches. She knew Mrs. Wells kept a box in the kitchen so she wrapped up in her new dark green flannel robe and wool socks and walked down stairs. Edward and Mrs. Wells were both asleep and the house creaked as the cold, ocean wind blew through it. She was reaching into one of the kitchen cabinets trying to feel for the box of matches when she heard the voice. At the window, by the little wooden kitchen table, stood a young woman, with long, wavy blond hair piled on top of her head, a child's plastic diamond tiara perched on top. She was wearing a frilly white prom dress, with bits of lace and silvery fabric tied in little bows all over it. The dress looked dirty and ragged, but it shimmered in the moonlight, casting an eerie glow on the woman's face. "Rebecca?" Emily asked. Rebecca was singing very softly, words that Emily didn't recognize, and she held her gaze out the window, towards the ocean. She took one step towards the window and the light splashed across swollen belly. Emily didn't know what to say. She had wanted to meet Rebecca for months and had begun to believe she wasn't real, that Emily was just imagining the singing, the little gifts, the white dress fluttering on the roof. She had so much she wanted to ask her, so much she wanted to share with her. "Maybe she'll come up to my room and talk," Emily thought, and took a step towards her. Rebecca turned to face Emily, her eyes wide with fear. "Ooooooo," Rebecca said, pursing her lips. She hummed a tune that sounded vaguely like the theme from Sesame Street, but Emily couldn't quite be sure. "How was your Christmas, Rebecca?" Rebecca took a step towards Emily, and Emily saw that she was wearing red cowboy boots, badly scuffed at the toe. Rebecca took Emily's right hand and placed it on her stomach. "Baby," she said. "Baby," Emily repeated. "Jesus." "Jesus?" "Gabriel." "Gabriel what?" Emily had just assumed that Rebecca could carry on a normal conversation. Her heart raced as she tried to think of what to say next. Rebecca closed her eyes and moved Emily's hand in circles across her belly. "Baby," she said again. "Would you like some cookies?" Emily asked, not at all sure what to do now that she had Rebecca before her, Rebecca who could sing like an angel but spoke like an infant. Suddenly Rebecca looked up at the ceiling and gasped. The tiara on her head slid to the right and several strands of hair shook loose. "Ooooooo," she said again. "Mary! Go, go, go!" She gathered her long skirt in her hands and ran out of the kitchen. Emily stood still for several minutes, trying to hear Rebecca's footsteps, but the wind against the windows drowned out all other noise. ~*~ "Are you ready for next semester, dear?" Mrs. Wells asked Emily the next morning, as they sat eating bread and honey for breakfast. The power was still out but the kitchen was bright with sunlight. She could hear Edward stamping around upstairs, cleaning his room, restless without somewhere to go and something to do. The secondary
  • 6. roads wouldn't be cleared for another day or so, and Edward resented having to miss several days at work. "I'm getting there," Emily said. "I think the second semester will be easier, and I'm sure I'll have some of the same students again." "Diane tells me that Jeff is going to sign up for classes this semester, finally. I think he's already had first year English, though." "Oh? What does he want to study?" "Nothing, really. Guitar. Girls. The boy is twenty-three and has no greater ambition in life than to drink expensive beer." Emily wanted to tell Mrs. Wells about seeing Rebecca the night before but didn't know where to start. She wondered if Mrs. Wells even knew that Rebecca was pregnant. Or maybe that was what she had alluded to earlier, the big surprise on New Year's Day? "Has Rebecca ever taken classes?" Emily asked. "Oh, sure," Mrs. Wells said. "Rebecca is a very bright girl. She started over at Endicott and did very well, a few years back. But that was before she got sick." "Sick?" "My poor little darling. Rebecca has been in and out of mental hospitals for several years now. They say it's schizophrenia but I don't believe that. Rebecca says it's the angels." "Angels?" Emily was reminded of her one word conversation the night before. "She says they talk to her. Poor dear." Mrs. Wells took a sip of coffee and stared out the kitchen window. From the side Emily could see the Rebecca had her grandmother's profile, although she was at least half a foot taller than Mrs. Wells. Before she could decide on the appropriateness of the question she heard it come out of her mouth. "Do you know how she got pregnant?" Mrs. Wells smiled at Emily and raised her right eyebrow. "Well of course I know how, dear. One doesn't become a grandmother by magic, you know!" Emily smiled back, relieved that her question hadn't offended Mrs. Wells. "I mean, is she dating anyone? Do you know if she's going to keep the baby?" "Rebecca never did care much for boys," Mrs. Wells explained, looking back out at the ocean. "In fact I think it was when her best friend Mary died that she took a turn for the worse. Diane and I have no idea who the father of Rebecca's child is. She won't say. And we have no idea what she plans to do with it." "When is she due?" "I'm not sure. In April, maybe? If you want to know what I think, I think it was one of those orderlies in the mental hospital that did this to her. Diane thinks it was one of her ruffian friends, the drop-outs and vagrants she shacks up with in Boston, but I don't believe that for a second. When Rebecca isn't on medication she may seem incoherent and confused, but she knows how to defend herself. I think it happened when she was too drugged up to know the difference." Back in her room Emily thought about her promising student, Lisa, and her theories about why teenagers get pregnant: because they want something to love, or they want their boyfriends to stay with them, or they need something to give their lives meaning. Lisa explained that she had never been able to hold down a job before she had Mandy, but that now she had purpose, direction, a reason for going to work every day. And a reason for going to college, Emily thought, and felt renewed anger at Lisa's stubborn father. That night Emily went to bed early, unable to get much work done by candle light. She slept deeply for several hours and then awoke with a start, a dull pain in her stomach. It felt strangely like kicking, she realized, rubbing her hand over her smooth, flat belly. For the two years she had dated Robert she had had a recurring dream, that she would wake up in the middle of the night and discover that she was pregnant. But she hadn't been with a man in years, and she wasn't dreaming. She also knew she couldn't be pregnant, but the sensation was so real, and her heart raced. She sat up and looked out the front window, at the snow covered street. The smooth surface was broken up by strange shapes, and as her eyes focused Emily realized what they were. Someone had been making snow angels just under her window, in a large, neat circle.
  • 7. ~*~ Rebecca's baby was born in late April, a big, healthy boy with blonde hair and green eyes, just like his mother. When they asked her what she wanted to name the child she said "Lord Jesus," so they asked her again. Again she said, "Lord Jesus," and Diane agreed to have the name entered on the birth certificate. Mrs. Wells told Emily this on the porch one morning, as they enjoyed their tea in the morning sun. "And then Rebecca ran away from the hospital," she added. "We haven't seen her since." The semester had just come to a close and Emily had begun packing her things, preparing for the move back to Atlanta. Over dinner she told Edward that he should come visit her, that he would probably love the South, and he said he would see what he could do. "We'll sure miss you," he said, gripping his mug of tea with both hands. "I'll miss living here," she said. She was planning to leave the following Thursday but couldn't bear the thought of going without saying goodbye to Rebecca, without at least seeing her one more time. She missed hearing her voice late at night, in the attic, and it had been months since she had received any little gifts. "Did I tell you about the gifts my students gave me?" she asked Edward. "No! Don't tell me that American students give their teachers presents even in college?" "Not normally," Emily explained. "But I guess some of them just felt like it. I think this was an important class for some of my students." "You must feel really good about that, knowing that you probably made a difference in their lives." Emily did feel good about it, although she still felt guilty for not being able to help Lisa. And, she realized suddenly, she felt the same guilt over Rebecca. "Barbara gave me a little porcelain box with my initials engraved on it," she said, smiling as she remembered Barbara's serious face, and her long note thanking Emily for giving her the courage to finish school. "And Carrie, the woman with six grandchildren, the one I told you about who had been laid off by GE? She gave me a little rose pin and wrote a poem to go with it. She had never even read a poem before my class!" On her last weekend in Massachusetts Emily took the train into Boston and went so see everything she had missed on her other trips into the city. Edward had loaned her his guide to the city's historical monuments and she followed it through Beacon Hill and beyond. The old churches in particular fascinated her, although she wasn't much interested in organized religion and had vague, unpleasant memories of revivals and church picnics from her southern Baptist upbringing. Then she remembered something Mrs. Wells had told her many months ago, about Rebecca's love of churches. She and some friends had once been caught living in the storage room of the Old North Church, among the figurines used in the annual nativity scene, and Rebecca had been known to follow priests around, asking questions. Emily stopped in one of the old Episcopal cathedrals and sat in the back row, enjoying the cool glow of the stain glassed windows. She closed her eyes and the image of her room the night she came back from Christmas eased into her mind. The garland of angels along the walls, the smell of vanilla candles. For a moment she thought she heard singing, a familiar female voice, but she opened her eyes and saw no one. ~*~ The last box to go in the car had been carefully packed, to protect the little homemade angels. Emily had saved one special box for all of the gifts Rebecca had made for her, and she had wrapped each one in pink tissue paper. As she eased the box into the last remaining space in the back of her car, she felt her body tingling all over. Her room was empty now, and tomorrow morning she would begin that long drive south, away from her life in Beverly, away from Mrs. Wells and Edward and the ocean view she loved so much. She closed the hatchback and leaned against the car, looking out over the ocean. Rebecca was almost right in front of her before she saw her. "Hi," she said. Emily had never seen Rebecca wearing regular clothes, cut-off jean shorts and a purple polo. Her eyes were clear and she smiled brightly. "Hi, Rebecca." "So, you're leaving tomorrow?" Emily's eyes widened and she smiled. At last, a normal conversation, she thought.
  • 8. "Yep," she said. "Driving home to Atlanta." "Home?" "That's where I'm from. And I'm going back for graduate school." "School?" "I'm going to work on a Ph.D. in English, at Emory." "English?" So much for normal conversation. Emily sighed and looked down at her legs, badly in need of a tan. "Your grandmother tells me you used to love English," she said, "that you wanted to be a writer." Rebecca furrowed her brow and looked out over the ocean. She began twisting her fingers. "So, gotta light?" she asked. "No, Rebecca, I don't smoke." Rebecca took a deep breath and looked Emily in the eye for a full minute. "OK," she said. Emily returned the stare and her heart fluttered. "OK," Rebecca said again, and turned around quickly. She was gone before Emily could think of anything to say. "I never thanked you for the angels," she said finally, into the wind. Return to Amy's Rambles