|Barnes and Noble|
The doctor’s lounge was neither bright nor inviting. It was full of lockers and lounge chairs and a couple of daybeds. Several small tables were scattered about as if a giant child had tired of trying to arrange her dollhouse furniture and simply swept the little tables all willy-nilly. The smell of burned coffee made my nose tingle. My scratchy throat constricted with desire. No one offered Styrofoam cups of conciliation. No one had time. There was too much work to do. Too much news to impart.
“Folks,” the manager began. “I’ve got a list of people who’ve been accounted for. I’ll read out the names and their whereabouts. Some have been taken to other hospitals in the area, a couple were airlifted to Lubbock.” He paused and ran a trembling hand through his thin hair, and I felt something close to compassion. What an awful job, telling family members their loved ones have died or been mangled or burned. Joe, that’s his name. I think Quinn introduced us at last year’s Christmas party, though I met so many that night, I hadn’t been able to keep them all straight. At that time, the plant had just been sold and the new members of management were all in attendance. How odd that this near stranger was now about to tell me the most horrific, the most intimately life-changing news one could possibly hear.
My mind tried to wander away again: After the funeral, I’ll go somewhere. I’m thinking this as Joe is going through the list of names. I recognize so many of the names, but I don’t recognize many of the people around me. Quinn talked about his work constantly. I was familiar with many of his coworkers only because I heard about them over dinner each evening. Lots of his friends had moved on to other companies when the plant sold—I recalled that Bill, one of his oldest friends, even said he was moving on because of the new owner’s poor safety record.
I pushed that thought away. I didn’t want to think that this might be something that could have been avoided. Should have been avoided. Of course, that would all come later.
Without knowing what I was about to do, I stood shakily. “My husband, Quinn Rose. Is he on your list there?”
Joe’s face blanched. Ronnie patted me awkwardly, but no one told me to sit down. No one knew what to do with me. Later, in the restroom mirror, I would understand why no one felt the need to tell me to wait my turn. Surely everyone there was in the same boat so what gave me the right to demand an accounting right there and then? My face. That’s what did it. The face looking back at me out of that restroom mirror was the face of an apparition. My husband may have been the one who died, but I was the one still haunting the earth.
Afterthought: Back to work on Moonbow now. It is a much cheerier book ~ although, in my defense, All For Love has a very uplifiting ending ~ it's just the rest of the book that's dark. LOL.