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Salty Air

Murky window panels dirtied the rippling bay, but the swaying dinghies were no less hypnotic from inside the red, rotting telephone booth. A sweet, salty sea breeze sent Claire to those summertimes in that cozy vacation home dad inherited. She and Lisa would stay up past bedtime, watching movies and shows. Claire didn’t remember which ones. She was too addicted to those cute dimples in Lisa’s cheeks.

“Hlo.” A muffled voice startled Claire back to now.

“Hello.” She spoke into the telephone’s earpiece. Damn reception.

“Anyone there.” The words came through clear enough to tell it wasn’t the deep, brotherly voice she expected.

“Hello?” Claire repeated. Was it the wrong number?

“Wait… Claire? Is that you?” Time froze. Butterfly wings tickled her stomach. Her heart pounded her chest in an escape attempt. That voice could take down Gods. Exposure was why Claire was still standing “Claire?”

Say something. Anything. What are you doing? How are the kids? Did you get those marble tiles? Anything.

“Hi… llo” Seriously, “I wasn’t expecting you, Lisa.”

“David went out and left his phone.”

“Typ-ic-al.” Her rusty throat forced the joke stiffly to her lips. Lisa laughed anyway. That sweet laugh carried in the air from the sea.

“So what’s up? How’s the market? Out of those delicious, chocolaty treats?” Lisa’s laugh lingered into the questions.

“Not yet, but it’s been busy.” Claire’s vibrance flowed through her words, authentic enough for Lisa to believe them. Even Claire believed. “You’d love it here. It’s quiet. Friendly. Everyone lives in a small cottage.”

“Sounds like a storybook come true. Maybe Dave and I will bring the kids up someday. Speaking of, they are excited about Auntie Claire’s visit. They’ve been counting the days since last week. It’s been… Fun.” Her little devils were draining her, but nothing could tame those sweet monsters.

“That’s why I called.” She took a deep breath. Rip off the band aid. “I can't make Saturday.” Now for the ‘not again’ attitude.

“That's a shame. We were looking forward to seeing you.” Strange. No anger or disappointment. No, “You failed me for the last time.” What did motherhood do? “I didn’t want to say, but Mia and Michael planned a marvellous marshmallow party. If that doesn’t change you mind.”

Claire laughed. How could she not at such cuteness? “I wish I could, but…”

“You don’t need to explain. They will get over it. Just promise to come around sometime. I... We miss you.” If only she meant it the way she said it to David.

“I will.” Claire hung up the phone, stuck in the deep, lonely void she fell into when Lisa and David said, “I do.”

“I love you.”

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