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Maple Street Memories #13

Episode Thirteen

She was looking forward to Tuesday’s lunch with Papa and planned to show him the house she was contemplating.  She waited in their booth at the diner, but he never came.  After a full two hours, there was still no word.

She gathered her things and set out for home, thinking something must have come up at the office.  She listened for the phone to ring all night, but there was no call.  The next day passed with no word from Papa.

Her worry increased Thursday when again he didn’t call or stop by the diner.  She usually went home and changed clothes and he picked her up for a movie before dinner.  She got ready and waited on the porch, craning her neck at every car that drove by the house.  She waited until dark without a sign of him.

Friday morning she took a break and called Youngstown Steel and asked for Mr. Bernard.  She was put through to his secretary, Beatrice.  “This is Mary Williams.  I, uh, I’m looking for Mr. Bernard.”

“Ah, yes, Ms. Williams.  I’m so sorry to tell you this, but Mr. Bernard has had a heart attack.”  She paused and her voice croaked when she added, “He died on Tuesday night.”

Mary gasped.  “Oh, no.  He died?”

“Yes, I’m so sorry, Ms. Williams.  I know how much you meant to him.  I’m afraid it didn’t occur to me to call you.  I’ve been very upset.”  She continued to tell her that there would be a service for Mr. Bernard next week and rattled off the details.

“Yes, yes.  I understand.”  She hung up the phone and wept.  “Oh, Papa,” she whispered between sobs.

She was too upset to work and went home for the day.  “How could this happen?” she muttered as she wandered the house.  As the hours ticked by she alternated between sitting and pacing, crying and silence.

She had nobody to turn to and nobody to tell about her father.  She toyed with the idea of telling Susan and Tom but knew how they would react.  She longed for her mother.  She fingered the mirror on the wall and caught sight of her blotchy face and puffy eyes.

She forced herself to eat some soup. After exhausting herself by trudging up and the down the stairs, she surrendered to sleep, wrapped in a quilt on the sofa.  She woke later than usual and hurried to work.  Her co-workers greeted her with quiet hugs and sad eyes.  Dolly gave her a casserole and a cake to take home.

She made it through her shift and collapsed on her bed when she returned home.  She slept through the rest of the day and night and woke to a chilly morning.  The air had turned crisp and autumn had arrived.  Today was the day she was meeting the furniture company to show them the pieces she wanted to sell.

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