An excerpt from 9 Days 777600 Seconds, coming Fall 2021

Morning comes early and despite her best efforts, her rest was interrupted. Her mind refused to shut off. Not one to blame the weather, she trusted her instincts. Dressing quickly, she goes downstairs for a cup of coffee with Boy following behind her. The old man had informed her moments earlier that it would be late noon before power would be completely restored. Grabbing a quick bite and retrieving the pick-up truck keys, left on the counter, she heads to the shed. Opening the door, Boy cushions himself on the passenger side. She heads out south of the house to an old dirt trail behind the barn. Every hundred feet or so was a marker, until she reached a trio of magnolias about twenty minutes into her journey.  Hooking a left, she continues on the path across the one lane bridge. Noticing the creaking gone, she assumes that someone had recently repaired the planks. Twenty minutes later, the road opens to a lakeview. To the right stood a rambler style cottage and a pier extending to the water. She parks and walks the length of the pier, stopping to retrieve a fishing rod out of the barrel at the entrance.  Boy, uninterested, makes his way to the front porch of the cottage and lays in a cool spot. Despite still being early, the sun is beaming and sitting directly on the pier isn’t providing any shade. Azure wishes she had brought a hat with her. No shade and shade coming in spades from the presence on the pier. Taking a deep breath, she sits as a pair of slits eyes her cautiously from the oversized straw hat. Rechecking the pole already in the water, she spits into a tobacco can. Azure shakes her head in disdain. It seems her friend still has that nasty habit.  “Who was my visitor last night”, she starts skipping the usual morning pleasantries and buying her some time for the second reason of her visit. “Not sure”, the southern drawl quips. “It definitely wasn’t Armani, but best I can tell a man.  Stood about six feet, maybe six-one in full recon gear, with a telescope and long lens camera. Spent a good two hours before that oak split and sent him scurrying”.  Removing their poles from the water, slant eyes grabs the cooler, already full of fish and shrimp. She turns to Azure signaling her to follow.    They walk in silence back to the cottage.  Removing the hat and fishing vest, Azure notices the first change in her friend.  The once closely shaved skull now has a cascade of multi-color locs. The second thing she noticed was the interior of the cottage. Once used as a fishing shed, it now radiated in color. A small but modern kitchen anchored the living space filled with vibrant afro-centric prints and family heirlooms.  Azure noticed that an extension had been added for sleeping quarters in the back.  Bringing a smile to her face, she sits at the island watching her sister clean her catch.  Not blood sisters, Azure and Leah were raised in the same house.  Leah’s parents worked for Mamma Callie along with the Old Man.  A trip to visit family in Alabama ended in tragedy as Leah’s parents were killed in a car crash that left Leah fighting for survival. Mamma Callie took Leah in, as her only other living relative was in a hospice. With only months separating the two in age, they became inseparable. While Azure ventured to Hollywood to become a star, Leah followed the Old Man’s footsteps, went to college and spent ten years in the Marines, before an injury cost her an eye in Iraq during a training mission. “You know the house belongs to you as well Leah. You don’t have to stay down here. I do like all the changes”, starting the conversation on a light note.  “Hm”, Leah snorts raising her gaze from the task at hand to fully inspect Azure once again.  “You’re bony and full of too much sugary sentiment.  Beside I like being by the water.  Spill it, what happened”?

Copyright 2020 Jones Harwell

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