Copyright 2012 by Henrietta Asher Handy.
— I –
Emily Post, not the famous one, but the other one – the ordinary one who lived on Pink Pigeon Drive –
put the last coffee mug into the dish drainer and dried her hands before heading straight for the front door. She opened it just as Frank the Mailman knocked. He had another package for her.
“Hi Frank, how’s Roberta?” Emily asked taking the clipboard from Frank’s stunned hands. Frank was one of those lanky men who had a sweet face and large brown eyes that conveyed every ounce of their emotion, if you were willing to look into them that is. Frank was a deep walnut color and had been married to his girl-next-door for thirty years. They had four children and six grandchildren. He was happy. Frank had cancer he didn’t know about yet. Emily would have told him, but it was already mastesized and spread to his bones. It hadn’t ravaged him yet. Frank was still strong and a voracious flirt, but no one had his heart like his Roberta. She would be brave for Frank so he could pass easily, but it would shorten her life in grief.
The first few times Emily had opened the door before Frank could knock had made him leery at first. Then, one autumn day he had stood there in a brilliant sunbeam as he had talked about one of his grandchildren, he asked her point blank what she was doing? Looking for him or did she sense him walking up the steps? Emily had been honest and told him it was a little of both. That moment some years back had established their positions with each other, and would also convey a sense of friendship between them.
“She’s doin’ just fine, Miss Post. Here is another package for you. It seems you get one a week any more, and it’s always on a Wednesday, too!” Frank handed over the small 8 ½ X 11 box. Something shifted inside with a soft thump. “I’ll be on vacation for the next two weeks, Miss Post. Rodney is going to take my place. I’ve told him where to leave your packages in case you aren’t home.” Rodney was a blond haired, blue eyed handsome fellow in his thirties. He was sure he was on the fast track. When he realized he was ‘just a post carrier’ he would commit suicide. Emily sighed.
“Thank you, Frank. Tell Roberta I said hi.”
“Will do, Miss Post, and don’t worry about Rodney: He’ll do what he is supposed to.” Frank tipped his postal hat and smiled with a quick wink. Emily winked back and cast him a wave. Frank returned to his route whistling literally whistling a happy tune.
Emily hugged the box to her chest. It was mid-September and growing cooler by the day. It was even cooler today than yesterday. The scent of fall was heavy in the air. Many of the trees still had their leaves, but they were quickly turning. A couple of trees down the street had already burst into their autumn pajamas. Emily liked to think her trees, the two ornamental plums in the front, and the oak and poplar in the back, were trying as hard as they could to hold onto summer just like she did. Their leaves were getting brittle, but they were still defying autumn by remaining green as long as they could. It was a silly thought in a way, but when you thought of the way everything was connected it didn’t seem so far fetched.
Emily sat in the swing and absently crossed her ankles and set the swing in motion. Life on Pink Pigeon Drive was as quiet and normal as “normal” could be. Most of the neighbors were gone to work and their children gone to school. Mrs. Dougal was home, of course. She lived three houses down and across the street. She was seventy-five years old and her daughter, another Emily, lived with her. Emily Dougal was in her fifties and a spinster. It was hard imagining someone being a spinster in the 21st Century, but it was quite true. Emily Dougal would never marry. She would forever pine for the man she had lost in Iraq during Desert Storm. Mrs. Dougal encouraged her daughter to get out and make friends and maybe find a man so she wouldn’t be alone, but even she sensed it wasn’t going to work. When the Dougal women loved, they loved with everything in them and didn’t look back. When their hearts were set they may have well been made of that proverbial stone.
Emily sighed, enjoying the early afternoon. She loved Pink Pigeon Drive. It was a part of one of the smaller, but more sprawling neighborhoods of Lexington, Kentucky. Pink Pigeon Drive, Pinker Court, and Red River Lane made up the neighborhood, but it wasn’t a subdivision with a name or anything. It had been developed in the 1970s and people had come and gone in the houses, but, for the most part, it was a stable neighborhood. There were a couple of policemen who lived up the street so vandalism and crime wasn’t too much of a concern, although it still wasn’t wise to leave your doors unlocked at night. (You had to be smart and not invite trouble while at the same time handle the trouble that found you.)
Benson appeared at the storm door and looked up at her accusingly for going outside without him present. He was pushed up tall on his back legs and looking out the bottom part of glass. Benson was silver and gray and white and black of long hair. He wasn’t a full-blooded anything except perfect. Emily left the swing and headed for the indoors. Emily reached down and picked Benson up. He was just a mass of gray and white hair with large trusting eyes and a smile that melted her heart. Benson was her best friend, surrogate baby, and roommate. He was all of ten pounds, a good solid ten pounds though. He was not the true “protector” of the house and Emily, because about all he would do would be to raise a fuss. If he thought she was in danger he might bite. In his heart, though, he was larger than a Great Dane and 100 times tougher! He took his duties as Dog of the House very seriously. Every noise had to be brought to Emily’s attention. He had to protect her from scary movies by lying in her lap when she watched them. Benson also had to be the sob pillow when there was a sad movie. Benson was as proud of his pack and as devoted to it as any Alpha male wolf.
Benson did not seem to mind that a cat, Friskers, was also a part of the family either. Friskers was a deepest black cat with large green eyes and all of his claws. People had advised Emily to have the cat de-clawed, but every time she thought about it, all Emily could imagine was what it would feel like to her if the first joint of her hands were removed. It was the same equivalent if you were a cat. Friskers and Benson had been buddies since they were tiny. Even at the pet shop when Benson had melted Emily’s heart, the owner had told her the puppy and kitten had to go together. Emily was just going to get Benson only, but when the kitten had begun screaming and Benson began whining she took the kitten as well. It had been the perfect decision.
“What do you think it is this time, Benny? Is it candy?” Emily shook the box and heard the soft thumb again. Benson barked once. Emily went back inside, scooping up Benson on the way in; Friskers jumped down off of the long wooden table she had put in front of the front window and raced ahead of her to the kitchen. He was already sitting in his chair that would be the one on the left. Emily put Benson into the chair on the right and took the one in the middle. All eyes were on the box in front of them. Animal and human alike did not like this box.