Things to do in Freehold

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Chapter Fifty-three:

Joey Grace (Late evening of September 11, 1983)

Addie and I sat down at the dining table that extended all the way into the kitchen for this special occasion. On the creamy white cloth, lied an entire Thanksgiving feast and it was only September. I guess that makes a lot of sense, considering how packed this house always is with guests. I already had an idea of how much food would be served this evening, so I held off on lunch earlier. As hungry as both Addie and I were, we still patiently for the “okay” to start digging in.

While we were waiting, I noticed Amy, across the way, staring back at me. She quickly looked away, though, the moment I caught her, trying not to blush. I did the same as soon as I realized that Ivan was now glaring at me.

“Attention, everyone!” Walter shouted over the numerous conversations going on, tapping on his wine glass with a butter knife. “Before we get started, I’d like to say a few words. There’s someone who, unfortunately, could not be here with us tonight. I’m sure you all know who I’m talking about. She is someone who we all loved and will miss, dearly.”

I simultaneously both tried biting my tongue as well as holding back my tears. At that moment, I couldn’t decide whether I was pissed off at him for bringing up Liv’s death or grateful that someone did.

“To Mrs. Grace,” he continued, raising his glass to me.

“To Liv,” Amy chimed in, raising her glass, also. Boy, did she look breathtaking, tonight? Everyone else then followed in their footsteps.

After dinner, I hurried into the bathroom, not because I had to go, but because I didn’t want anyone, especially Addie, to see me cry. I hovered over the sink as I wept. I cried and cried until I had no tears left.

“Joey?” Adriene knocked on the door. “Are you alright in there?”

I hastily wiped away my tears and opened the door, just a crack. “Yeah, I’m fine,” I lied. “I think I’m just coming down with a migraine.”

“Oh, well, I think I might have something for that,” she told me, entering the bathroom. She opened the medicine cabinet to pull out a bright orange pill bottle. After taking off the child-proof lid, she popped a singular lavender pill into the palm of her hand. “Here you go.”

“What is it?” I asked, taking it from her and inspecting it more closely. Towards the center of the pill, the initials A.G. had been etched into it.

“Just something to take the edge off,” she answered. “It’s pretty strong, though, so I would suggest hitting the road before it officially kicks in.”

Although I was still hesitant to the idea of taking an unknown drug, I made the quick decision to do so anyway. Adriene then offered me a sip from her bottle to wash it down with. I’ll admit, it was not my proudest moment, but I was in too much emotional distress to care.

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