Monday, May 13, 2013

Red flags

"Good afternoon, Mrs. Dougherty," says the conductor with a grin as he hoists Kate's battered bag up from the platform.  Kate is a regular on this train, picking it up every Monday since September.  Tim slides the bag in the rack over a foursome of empty seats and heads off down the aisle, swaying as the train lumbers out of the station.

She pulls out a stack of papers from Harry's old law school bag, and digs in the bottom for a red pencil.  No matter how often she replenishes them,  she nevers seems to be able to find more than one at any given moment.  Ah, there, at the very bottom, huddled between her lipstick and a bottle of St. Joseph baby aspirin.  The teeth marks made it clear this one had been around the block at least once with Patty.  

Is this a red flag?  Kate is worried about her eldest.  At the cusp of adolescence, an unsettling time for anyone, but for Patty — oh, for Patty, who has her life flipped like an eggtimer every four years, will the sand come spilling out at this this turn of events?  Emma has been reassuring, but Kate sometimes wonders what her Patricia's serene exterior conceals.

A cup of coffee appears at her elbow, jolting her back to her grading.  She grins at Tim and digs in. Six hours to Chicago, six blessedly undisturbed hours....

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