Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Fowl and the Fallen

A Lynch Family Thanksgiving in Alexandra


Vincent DiAntoni was able to sleep in on Monday because it was Thanksgiving. When his mother had been alive, he often woke to the sounds of her already in the kitchen or cleaning the house, even if they weren't going to be at home for Thanksgiving. He'd help her and, later, finally get washed up and dressed for whatever the plans for the day were - usually some friend or family of his mothers, as his father's family was far from close.

But since his mother's death, they didn't really celebrate Thanksgiving. His father would get drunk and pass out; usually the first part of his day off. Vincent couldn't tell the psychological reasons behind his father's drinking problem, but in many ways it had only gotten worse with his mother's death. Vincent had learned that it was easier to not fight with his Dad ... unless the subject was his harp playing, which Gino DiAntoni hated. Those fights often came to blows.

This first weekend in Alexandra gave his father the whole weekend AND Monday off. While Vincent had hoped that the new girlfriend in Vancouver would take his father's attention during the holiday, it had not happened. So Vincent had stayed out of his way as much as possible. But his father had complained about the noises in the building. Most of the island seemed to be out of town for the holidays, but Darcy Lynch's family had come to see her ... which meant more noise from upstairs. Not much but clearly people were walking around.

Vincent had been invited to dinner by Darcy. He was both looking forward to it and dreading it. The plan was for him to play his harp, which he loved to do, but he hadn't even told his father about the invitation, never mind his having accepted it. Vincent planned to get and keep his father drunk, getting him to pass out before it was time to go upstairs.

He listened to the movement upstairs, as if he were part of it. During the week, Vincent had given Darcy his phone number so that she could text him with a time to come up. By then, he hoped, his father would be passed out, even though Vincent had a plan to knock his father out for a good long time. As he was thinking of it, his father bellowed from his bedroom, where he was watching television for a screwdriver. Gino wasn't repairing anything, Vincent knew; he wanted a vodka and orange juice.

Darcy Lynch stands in her kitchen peeling carrots to steam while her mother talks at her nonstop. The Lynch family was preparing their later afternoon Thanksgiving meal, as was their long standing tradition.

"I'm sure Janet Jackson had a secret child.....have you seen how her weight yoyos in the pictures? She has the money to hide it anywhere......"

Darcy exhales and tosses the peels into her compost pail "Uh huh..."

Her father shuffles along the counter from the sink with a spray bottle and some sort of minty liquid infusing the air as it cleans "99% of household bacteria Darc. You should just keep it by the sink. Totally biodegradable. Does Alexandra have a Metaway rep? I could get you a kit next week."

Darcy stalls as her mother rattles off all the countries the secret child could be stashed away in and her father stares at her waiting. Metaway was such a pyramid scam, like Amway. She shook her head "I'm really not much of a sales person Dad....Where the hell is Marianne?" She begins to look at the door desperately.

Vincent prepares the drink from a gallon bottle of vodka and a gallon bottle of orange juice. He hesitates and then goes into the living room to send a text upstairs to Darcy "Aunt D. What time do U want me up there?" He then sticks his phone in his pocket and delivers the drink to his father, who is on his bed with his laptop. "Keep em comin, boy." he growls, not drunk yet .... yet.

Darcy escapes her parents as her phone buzzes in the back pocket of her jeans "Could be work!" she says hopefully and disappears into the bedroom. Her parents have taken it over with their belongings but as long as no one is changing she can still claim it for tiny moments. She smiles when she saw it was from Vincent and replies "Anytime. Seriously." Darcy leans back against the door taking a deep cleansing breath and then goes back into the fray. Her father has moved from the kitchen and is meticulously attacking her computer screen with some sort of dusting cloth. She frowns and approaches.

"You know I cleaned before you came right?"

He pulls the cloth back and shows her a whole layer of dust "Not with this new Meta microfiber. Look at that! Look at it! Just wait until you see what it does for the blinds next."

Darcy gives her father a weak smile and pats him on the shoulder "OK Daddy, whatever makes you happy."

Marianne bursts in the door with a pumpkin pie in one arm and a bouquet of flowers in the other "This town is so cute. I can almost forgive them for not having a Starbucks. They even have a little sex shop here! Darc can you grab this from me and put it in the fridge?"

Darcy scoops the pie up from her sister and hisses"Mom won't stop talking and Dad won't stop cleaning. Vincent's coming over for dinner so please don't say anything indecent. They're scary enough."

Marianne giggles "Oh god, relax."

Darcy walks to the fridge while her sister undoes a pair of very complicated looking boots. Her mother is now at the table reading a "newspaper" called the scribbler. She grips Darcy's arm as she starts back from the fridge "You didn't tell me this was such a DANGEROUS place to live!"

Vincent gets the text as he is going out of his father's bedroom. He nods to it and heads in the living room. In a small chest by his harp, he retrieves a box of over-the-counter allergy medication. Considering the foil packets and knowing the directions call for a dose of one, he separates three of the pills, pops them from their foil prisons and takes them into the kitchen. He places the pills in a paper towel and gets out the meat tenderizer, a stainless steel hammer, and taps the pills into powder. Taking out a tall glass, he prepares his father another screwdriver and shakes the pulverized pill fragments into the mixture. After a vigorous stir, he leaves the drink on the kitchen counter and goes back into the living room to watch a little television. He can hear faint murmurings from upstairs; it sounds like someone is pacing the floor. About twenty minutes later, he hears his father bellow for another screwdriver.

Vincent gets up and goes back into the kitchen, where he stirs the drugged drink again and checks to make sure there no floating drugs visible. Then he takes the drink in to his father and sets it beside Gino, who grans it and chugs a quarter of it without so much as a thank you.

Leaving the room, Vincent goes to get the clothes he set aside and take them into the bathroom. After a shower, he dries and dresses. Half an hour after delivering his father the drugged screwdriver, he comes out of the bathroom and looks in on Gino, who is laying across his bed, mouth open and dead to the world. The tall glass is now empty.

With a deep breath of relief, Vincent heads back into the living room, where he pulls out two old quilts. Grabbing his phone, he replies to Darcy's message. "I took care of Dad. Can you come help me with Igor?" once it is sent, he begins the process of wrapping the harp in the large quilts to protect it.

Darcy squints at her mother and then at the tabloid "Oh no no no no....that woman is totally exaggerating. Did you see what she wrote about that other town? My coworkers told me that "brothel" is a bed and breakfast run by a sweet old hippie woman and her daughter."

Marianne comes into the kitchen and stares into the fridge "Do you have any olives Darc?"

Their mother tuts and flips to her next "paper". She had really stocked up for the ferry ride. "Oh the Queen is at it again with those Middleton girls isn't she?"

Darcy rolls her eyes and says "In the door Mari." as her phone gives a little buzz. She watched her father clean the remotes before climbing on a chair to reach the blinds. After pinching her brow she reads the text and says "I'll be right back....behave yourselves...."

Darcy sprints downstairs to Vincent's apartment and knocks 3 times quietly.

Vincent has the harp mostly wrapped up when the knock comes at the door. He goes and peeks through the peep hole to see Darcy, then opens the door. "Come on in." he says in a perfectly normal voice. "It's more bulky than heavy, but ..."

Darcy smiles at Vincent and looks at the harp "Cool." Out of both occupational habit and curiosity she peers past him into the suite and sees Gino sprawled on the bed. Her eyes go wide and she asks worriedly " he OK...your Dad?"

Vincent moves to his harp and looks up when Darcy speaks. "What? Oh .. sure. I put three allergy pills in his screwdriver. He won't wake up till morning." he explains as if it is the most natural thing in the world to do.

Darcy gasps "Vincent!" and runs to check the man's pulse. He has one. she turns and looks at the teen "Do you do this often? Some drug and booze combos can be really damaging...or deadly even...."

Vincent looks mildly surprised at her reaction. He leads her out of the bedroom and closes the door this time. "My mom did it a lot." he tells her. "One pill to chill him out if he's getting out of control. Two if she wants him out for a couple ours and three to knock him out for like a day." his eyes flash a moment. He obviously knows what he is doing. "If I gave him six, I could probably kill him. But I won't." he looks defiant. "My mother wouldn't want that for me." it seems perhaps this has been an issue in the past. "I just didn't want him messing this day up for me ... or for you." he sounds pleading.

Darcy just exhales breathily and shakes her head "God you make my family look positively normal. Just be careful OK? I don't want to book your for manslaughter kid." She walks to the harp ready to take her end of it.

Vincent shrugs. "I know my family is messed up." he admits. "It was better before my mother died. And I promise to be careful. I don't want to go to jail over ... him ... either." he offers her a smile and goes to open the door. Then he comes back and tucks the stool under his arm. He hefts the larger end. "You get the other end." he advises and lifts, heading for the open door of his apartment.

Darcy heaves her end along with Vincent until they reach the door which she taps with the heel of her sneaker to knock. Marianne answers it with a little squeal and holds the door open for the harp. Before it's even put down she puts a perfumed hand on Vincent's cheek as soon as he's in range and gives him a little pec on the cheek above her fingers. She looks at him like he's a puppy in a present box and says "Oh Darc, your little friend is adorable!" She steps away before he would even have time to react and practically skips into the kitchen "Who wants wine? Don't mind if I do..."

Darcy and Marianne's parents merge from different sides of the room to see the harp and it's player come in.

Darcy's father speaks up "Well that's quite the thing there isn't it Valerie?"

Darcy's mother smooths her apron and pats her husband's arm "Nigel, where are your manners. You must be Vincent then dear?"

Vincent closes and locks the door on the way out and enters the apartment above his. No sooner does he set Igor down then a perfumed hand touches him and he finds himself kissed! He stares after Mari, as he remembers her being called and, distractedly murmurs. "I'd like some ...." and then he is surrounded by who he assumes are Darcy's parents. "I ... yes ... I'm Vincent." he straightens up and tries to look older. "Vincent DiAntoni."

Nigel and Valerie are nothing short of an adorable 60 something couple. They're both wearing knit cardigans that look homemade. Valerie has a hand sewn flowered apron on that looks right out of the 1950s. She's a tiny woman with chin length grey hair and facial features similar to her daughters except she has wider and more animated eyes. Her pumpkin coloured cardigan is over a brown patterned dress that comes just below her knees. She wears simple nylons with a little pair of bobby socks on for around the house. Nigel has a button up shirt on under his grey cardigan and a pair of khaki green tweed pants and brown velvety slippers. He has receding brown going grey hair and a pair of old school glasses on with a retro black strip along the top of each lens. He's much taller than his wife but with a bit of a stoop in his posture. They both smile at Vincent and step back to let him get in. Marianne has on a strappy red mini party dress that would work better for a bar with bare legs and feet freshly pedicured, toes matching the deep red of the dress. She shakes her head around as she returns with two glasses about to offer one to Vincent. Darcy grabs it from her before he can reach and hisses "Fourteen!" She takes a sip of it and glares at her sister.

Vincent is millimeters from the Nirvana of wine when it is whisked from him. "Oh, come on, Aunt Darcey." he protests. "Wine isn't alcohol! It's like cider .. soft." it is what he was taught by his father who never touched wine and only drank beer in pubs to avoid getting drunk too quickly. Denied he looks around at Darcy's parents and suddenly feels like he is in some odd sitcom.

Nigel puts his hands behind his back and walks around the harp "This is a hell of a thing son. How do you clean it?"

The apartment is infused with the homey aroma of turkey dinner cooking. The vegetable steamer dings to announce the carrots are done and Valerie scampers to the kitchen to fuss with things.

Marianne takes her own wine to the couch and sits down, crossing her bare legs and smoothing her hair with a perfumed manicured hand. "Bring that thing in here and play us a tune Vincent." she cajoles with a sweet smile.

Darcy points at Vincent in a warning way after his wine comment and then sets her down and offers to help move the harp into the living room with him bu poising to lift again.

Vincent looks at Nigel when he asks about cleaning the harp. "Just the way my mother taught me. And what the museum guy told me when I was restoring my lyre." he ignores Darcy's maternal pointing and helps move the harp into the living room, setting it in a good place. Then he sets the stool down and continues. "This isn't just wood from any old coffee table. Igor is like medieval old or maybe older. Family heirloom. So I use this really weak solution and lightly dust him every day. I tune him when he needs it. Got a bunch of strings and all, too." he looks over at Marianne. "What do you want to hear?" he asks. "I know ancient and modern and classical." he looks at Darcy, whose heard songs from downstairs that play on the radio.

Darcy just smiles and blurts out her favourite before anyone else can request "Fireflies by Owl City?"

Vincent smiles. "I know that one! Neat song!" he sits on his stool and adjusts himself. Then he seems to pause a moment before he begins to play the song. His eyes are half closed as if concentrating ... or avoiding looking at anyone for their reaction.

Nigel settles into an armchair to listen, eyes on the harp, nodding occasionally with a look of admiration. Darcy sidesits on the arm of it, leaning against her father's arm and shoulder and smiles as she watches and listens. Valerie perches on the other end of the couch from Marianne in a dainty sit, her hands folded in her lap. She tilts her head like she's not really connecting with the type of music but trying to be polite and she can't deny the boy's talent. Marianne's mouth forms an O as he starts in on such a modern song and she's grinning as it goes on.

Vincent has to peek up now and again to make absolutely sure his fingers are where they are supposed to be. He finishes the song and looks at them all with a small smile of pride. "Any others?" playing made him realize how much he loved playing. His musical tastes ran all over the place, too. It helped him, he thought, to be able to play pretty much anything.

Another timer goes off in the kitchen and Valerie jumps up to go take care of things with a little smile at Vincent "That was nice dear."

Marianne squeals "Ooooh you're so good. You should hire yourself out for weddings and parties." She leans forward to grab her wine again and takes a big swig.

Nigel gives Vincent a little clap "Do you know any Celtic songs? The Irish saved the world you know." he teases.

Darcy laughs and shakes her head "Dad......Vincent that was great thanks. I'm still listening but I should see if Mom needs a hand." She eases off the chair and moves towards the kitchen.

Vincent does a small bow from his stool. "Thank you, ma'am." he replies to the mother. He looks at Marianne and shrugs. "Well, I take my lyre into the city and play on street corners." he admits. "I wouldn't know how to play a wedding. No one my age ever gets married." he out and out smiles at Nigel. "My mother told me. She taught me to play this almost first thing..." he twiddles his fingers and begins to play Foggy Dew..

Nigel closes his eyes and smiles and then taps his toes on the floor in time. Vincent and his harp have got this guy.

Valerie pushes up her cardigan sleeves and mashes the potatoes within an inch of their lives while Darcy meticulously stirs at the gravy and smiles. She looks sideways at her mother "We'll never get Dad out of there now so I'll carve today."

Marianne looks up blissfully through the bottom of her wine glass she's just drained. It's quite and obvious division of labour in the Lynch family with cooking. Nigel and Marianne are the spectators while Valerie and Darcy make all the plays. As Vincent's song finishes the sound of an electric carving knife buzzes as it slices through meat and Valerie is setting the table.

Vincent finishes the song and is almost ready to start another when the whine of an electric carving knife cut through the air. He smiles wide. "Food." he announces and looks at Nigel. He's ready to eat, then again, he is ALWAYS ready to eat.

Darcy hears Vincent and laughs "Soon kid." She layers up a big platter of meat and then digs in the bird for the stuffing and scoops it into a dish.

Valerie goes to the bedroom and grabs another chair and then does a silent head count, pointing at people and then chairs and nods "Alright, come sit down everyone."

Nigel pushes himself up from the armchair and plunks in the closest kitchen chair.

Marianne hops up with a little bounce "Mmm food. I made today my cheat day so I can eat all the carbs." 

Vincent sits where Valerie points and bounces once. He looks at all of the food as if he hasn't seen the like in months. "What's a carb?" he asks Marianne. His diet consists of eating most of what is on his plate, although he is low on vegetable consumption, like most teens. "It's not like asparagus or anything, is it?" he looks around the table as if some filthy vegetable may be lurking.

Marianne scootches into the chair beside Vincent and giggles at him and then flips her hair "Ohmygod you're hilarious." Fancy salon product scent wafts from her as her hair settles back into perfect formation.

Plates are set out and food is passed around so everyone can load up.

Darcy laughs and gives Vincent a little swat "Carb-o-hydrate? Did you skip science class that day?"

Nigel spoons a pile of potatoes on his own plate and then passes them Vincent's way "He's a growing boy. He doesn't need to worry." He looks towards his wife now "Mother, will you say our grace?"

Once the food is laden the Lynch family all clasp hands. Valerie and Marianne each reach for one of Vincent's. Darcy looks a little apologetic but then bows her head as her mother starts " Dear Lord, we thank you for this food - the hands that planted and raised it and the hands that prepared it for this table. We thank you for our freedom in this country and those who fought for it and enforce the laws to keep us safe. We pray for those who hunger, those who sin, and for Brad and Angelina."

Vincent looks a little lost at being called hilarious, but that passes when he hears it is a carbohydrate. "Ohhhh... no I was awake. I got a passing grade." he protests. Obviously not a top grade, but he hadn't flunked science. He piles his plate and blinks when grace is mentioned. He holds hands, as is expected and bows his hands, but lifts his eyes. Prayer isn't much known in his house. They weren't overly religious, even when his mother was alive and healthy. But he remains quiet and waits, hoping he can eat soon.

Darcy lets go of the other hands and looks up as she tucks a napkin into her lap "Brad and Angelina?" Her tone is a little reproachful.

Marianne giggles "They split up apparently....I dunno one of them is abusive. The tabloids keep alternating which one beats which. I must say the photoshop is well done." She starts cutting up her turkey.

Valerie sighs at her girls as she butters a roll "They have their struggle and all those races of children to pass back and forth."

Nigel just shakes his head and takes a bite of stuffing.

Vincent rolls his shoulders after the prayer and listens as he tucks in. He starts with vegetables and works his way around his plate, eating heartily and steadily with an obviously healthy appetite. He has no CLUE who the people they're talking about are.

Darcy rolls her eyes "Ok well Brangelina can deal with their own pile of crap. Vincent, those were some great tunes. Thank you." She reaches for the salt and pepper and shakes each liberally over her whole plate.

Valerie almost slaps at Darcy's hand "Not so much salt dear. You'll get high blood pressure like your father. Nigel, did you take your water pill?"

Nigel sighs and gets up from the table and shuffles to the bedroom.

Marianne watches after her dad and nods and then turns to Darcy who is now sipping wine and says "Health is a priority. Did you find a gynecologist yet?"

Darcy chokes, spitting out some of her wine and stares at Marianne with a wide eyed glare.

Vincent has a mouthful of food. He swallows it in sections, nodding at Darcy all the while. "Thanks. I really love playing, so thanks for the audience." he finally manages to speak with an empty mouth. He watches Nigel and is turning his head back to ask Darcy about water pills when Mari speaks, Darcy sputters and he stares, trying to imagine anyone at a gynecologist. His only experience with doctors is the usual kid stuff.

Darcy wipes at her face with her napkin and clears her throat "No. A discussion for another time." She turns to answer her mother "My blood pressure is fine. Has Dad's gotten worse?"

Valerie just nodded and sighed "It was those damn salty Hawkins cheezies all the years I swear. He's pickled himself in a brine."

Nigel overhears as he comes back "Just add garlic. Val I'm fine and the pills work. You just forget you're married to an old man now." He gives Vincent a little grin and then says casually "Tell us about your family boy?"

Marianne giggles at Darcy "Alright Ms. Prude." She gestures at Vincent "If the kid has the internet he's probably heard and seen more than I'm saying."

Vincent stares a bit longer. He shrugs and pointedly does NOT look at Darcy. "I have the internet. But I haven't looked up gynekolicicalogy. Maybe when I get home." he looks at Nigel and pauses. "My .. mother died of brain cancer a couple years ago. Since then, it's just been me and my dad." in an attempt to avoid the question of where his loving father is right now, he adds. "He works a lot, so he's asleep." he is getting very good at the half-truth, even at his young age.

Darcy pinches the bridge of her nose and closes her eyes, hoping to god Vincent doesn't end up with a computer virus. She looks up again as he speaks of his family and then quietly sighs.

Valerie quietly gasps and puts her hand over her heart about Vincent's mother "Oh you poor dear..." she murmurs.

Nigel nods, looking sympathetic and then says kindly "Well we're glad to share our table son."

Marianne just looks awkward. She's never been good with the big emotional stuff of life. She digs into her potatoes and pushes them around before taking a dainty bite.

Vincent pauses. "Well, Mom got me on the waiting list for the Academy, anyway." he offers to them. He looks at Nigel. "Thanks to you for having me, sir." he smiles a bit at Darcy and lifts his fork, inhaling the rest of the food on his plate quickly.

The Lynch family takes inspiration from the ravenous teen and all eat quietly too. After the plates are clean, perhaps even after seconds or thirds, Darcy and Valerie start clearing the table. Marianne and Nigel watch them and converse with each other.

Nigel pats his stomach "What kind of pie did you get Mari?"

Marianne looks affronted "Pumpkin?! Is there any other to get Dad." She giggles after and looks at Vincent "Am I right kid?"

Vincent puts away three plates and sighs happily and watches, enjoying the perks of being a guest. He grins at Mari. "Obviously." he replies. "Did you make it, or did you get it from Earthcakes?" he sighs again, speaking of the bakery, grinning like a boy in love.

Marianne finds the question quite humorous "Oh I don't cook beyond making the odd salad and toast. It's from that bakery. I could move into that place. I'd be 300 pounds within the month.."

Darcy brings the pie to the table and starts slicing and serving with a smile. Valerie puts on a pot of coffee. Each person gets a very healthy slice with a liberal amount of whipped cream. There is no need to speak. There is only pie.

Vincent only smiles, having a good idea that a man should not comment on a woman's weight. When he gets his pie, he pauses until someone starts and begins to eat, happily.

The Lynch family start to disperse a little after the pie bliss ends. Darcy starts loading the dishwasher and Valerie starts scrubbing pots, only to be advised on different Metaway products and how to use them by her husband. Nigel stands beside her and keeps taking pots from her with various scrubbers, trying to show Darcy the difference.

Marianne plunks down on the couch and turns on the TV, flipping channels a bit with the occasional smile at Vincent "God she's got the worst cable package..." she mutters.

Vincent looks towards the kitchen, as if he might be thinking of offering help, but seeing the hovering Nigel, he opts instead to go to his harp stool. He glances at the television while he plays what amounts to absolutely nothing on Igor and replies. "Looks like she has basic. We can get more here, but." he shrugs. "If it went out I bet it would be a nightmare."

Marianne sighs "I could never live in a small town...."

Darcy's work phone rings from the table by the front door. With a slight frown she walks over to answer it "Lynch here......" He face becomes ashen and starts breathing very intentionally, as if trying to stay calm "I understand. I'll be right there Sharp..." She hangs up and doesn't explain a thing, just dashing to the bedroom and coming out in full uniform.

Nigel and Valerie are standing in the kitchen with a look of wondering. Nigel has been scrubbing at the big turkey platter and it's still wet and soapy in his hands. Valerie is drying a casserole dish with a dish towel slowly, peering towards the bedroom.

Marianne even looks up from the TV curiously as Darcy comes out and asks "Is everything OK?"

Darcy breezes through the apartment to the door and starts pulling on her boots. She turns before she goes "I'm sorry everyone. Chief Brate's been shot." The door opens and closes and her footfalls go quickly down the staircase.

Vincent's eyes get big when Darcy comes out in uniform and explains why she is leaving. "Shit!" he exclaims and heads for the window, opening it and leaning himself halfway out. He soon sees Darcy jogging towards the cop shop, but he can't see where the action is.

Nigel walks towards the window too "See anything Vincent?"

Valerie just keeps drying her dish with an anxious look on her face.

Marianne exhales and looks at the door that closed behind her sister, having no words to fit this moment.

Vincent shakes his head and pulls himself back inside. "No .. just Darcy going into the cop shop." he leans towards the window and looks to his right. "I don't see any police cars. Whatever it was must have happened in the bottoms ... the lowest area on the island ..." he pauses again. "Or on water. I didn't hear any shots." he turns to look inside. "I bet it's all over, Mr Lynch." he assures the older man. "If Chief Adum is in the hospital, they probably just need Darcy to fill in is all." he doesn't want them to think she is in danger. But he is anxious too. He bites his lip, wondering what to do. "You know ... my father probably won't get up till morning." he tells them. "And I'm here and all so ... why don't me and Igor play?" his mother had told him music soothes nerves ... which made Vincent think his father might not be human, since the sound of his son playing the harp only upset him. He figures the Lynch family needs to relax more than he needs to cook a second dinner his father probably won't even be awake to eat until his lunch break tomorrow.

Nigel nods appreciatively at Vincent and then goes and takes the very dry casserole dish from Valerie's hands, steering her to the living room to sit on the couch beside Marianne. Marianne turns to her mother and takes her hand with a kind look. They three of them all had this feeling often, knowing Darcy's job, every time she went off on a tour in the military. As much as they admired her conviction to keep the world safe, it was hard to be left behind, not knowing if she was safe too. Nigel sat in the armchair again, looking gratefully at Marianne and then Vincent as his hands moves across the strings and the music washed over them all, dulling the sense of dread that was a constant battle.

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