Phoenix

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The Silence is Deafening

“Jare, it’s Mom. Your sister is late to lunch... very later. Grace said that Cassie had mentioned having plans to meet you at the lake. I didn’t know you had plans to come home. Please call me back. I love you both,” Genevieve was chocking back the tremble in her voice. It was clear to her mother that she didn’t even believe her own attempt at calmness. “It’s time that I start calling more people, Mom,” Genevieve excused herself from the table and worked her way through the kitchen. Continuing out the back door, she began looking through her contacts, trying to decide on her first point of contact when daughter has ignored her phone calls before. “Hello? Hi, are you bus?”

Moira could only hear Genevieve’s part of the conversation. Which, no doubt, would drive her crazy. Her mind raced with thoughts of her beloved granddaughter. Soon, all that she could do is envision the past. Memories of the day she was born and coexing Genevieve through labor. Holding Cassandra for the first time. She remembered the thick, jet black hair, and how amazing it was that her skin was very dark considering the ivory skin she had as she got older. Visions of Cassandra’s first steps, all seventeen birthdays she has had, holidays and dances flashed across her memory. The memories of long lunches over the past week slowed the movie reel in Moira’s mind.

“Gramma, I like him, a lot. He is so...amazing,” it had been only yesterday that they had discussed Cassandra’s boyfriend. They sat in the usual spots at the dining room table. Cassandra’s eyes were sparkling and a spectacular smile spread across her face. It was clear from the moment that she walked in she had something she was eager to tell Moira.

“Oh, they always are, at first dear. How are things going with work,” Moira remembered thinking it was getting close to the time that Cassandra usually left to meet her boyfriend before her shift at the local diner. She also recalled that Cassandra had gone out of her way to keep that a secret, but Moira had seen them together on accident, one afternoon.

“It’s great! I love working there with all of my friends from school. The free food is awesome, too,” she smiled again, but not as grand as the first time. Moira loved to see Cassandra smile. Over the past few years it came less and less. It had faded so much, at this point it was barely a smirk. It seemed as though she was hiding something. Moira just couldn’t quite put her finger on what it was. Suddenly, Cassandra got a text that made her face reveal her true emotion. Moira felt an unexpected urge of discomfort in the moment.

“Gramma, I...I’m sorry. I’m not going to be able to stay. I have to go to work,” Cassandra didn’t even look up from her phone. Unsure of the obvious change, Moira’s inquisitive mind had to know where this uneasy feeling was coming from.

“Cassandra, what do you mean? You told me that you were scheduled to work the dinner shift tonight! That’s several hours from now,” Moira could feel that work was not the reason for her granddaughter’s sudden need to depart.

“I know, I really am sorry. It’s just...well...I mean, I guess someone called off at the very last minute. I’m the only one that can cover that shift. I really have to run, Gramma,” and with that, Cassandra rushed for her shoes and purse. She barely had her shoes over her heels before she was out the front door. She didn’t notice the sound of her granddaughter sniffling then, but now the memory made it clear. There was something else, too. She didn’t recall hearing it either, at first. Upon reflection, Moira realized that after opening the front door, her granddaughter had paused at the storm door and whispered something. Moira simply assumed that it had been a disgruntled comment about needing to change her afternoon plans, but it wasn’t. It was more. Something she rarely said.

“I love you, Gramma, and I’m sorry.”

Then out the door she had went. In retrospect, Moira saw Cassandra pause again when she was walking down the sidewalk. She paused and turned her head ever so slightly, as if she was contemplating going back inside the house. With an unexpected call out from her daughter, Moira was snapped out of her thoughts of the day before. It startled her to find herself looking out the window as if she had been watching the seen unfold for the first time, rather than in her memories. She hadn’t even realized that she had gotten up from her seat.

“Mom? Mom, what is it? Is she here,” Genevieve had come in, but how long had she been standing there. Moira spun around with her surprise written all over her face, but quickly wiped it away.

“You startled me, Genie. I was just thinking about when Cassie was here, yesterday. That’s all.”

“Cassie? What’s with the nickname? You haven’t called her that since she was a little girl,” Genevieve had that very clear pit in her stomach again. The look on her mother’s face told her what she needed to know. Something went wrong while she was gone.

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