Claire couldn’t remember how long she’d stood in the same spot. Rain poured down in sheets, dripping off her umbrella, soaking into her shoes, puddling around her feet. Through her tears, she watched the water run in rivers over the freshly covered gravesite in front of her, beating down the remaining flowers not yet removed, pooling in the spots where chairs and tent poles stood earlier. Now and then a rumble of thunder sounded in the background as if angry over the unexpected death of a man so young….
Hearing footsteps, Claire glanced behind her to see Parker making his way now across the cemetery under a broad black umbrella….
Claire reached down to retrieve a red rose from one of the floral arrangements left behind, turning the flower over in her hands. “However did you stand it when Ann died?” she asked at last.
“We bear things because we have no choice to do otherwise,” Parker answered….
“It’s going to be hard being here day after day without Charles. There are too many reminders of him everywhere. A change as soon as we can make one might be best for us.”
“Now tell me what you’re doing heading to Edisto? Is everything all right?”
“Why should something be wrong? Don’t you think even a workaholic like me needs a vacation now and then? Aren’t you always telling me that?” Mary Helen had no intention of dumping problems on Suki before a show.
“Well, yeah, but…”
“So I’m taking a break. It seemed like a good time.”
There was a small silence. “I wish I could be there with you. Edisto is our happy place.” …
That’s where Mary Helen headed now, to Edisto Beach, where her family had vacationed since her earliest memories, and where she, her mother, and sister lived after her father’s death seventeen years ago. … The beach helped to sooth their hurt and sorrow then, and Mary Helen hoped it would do the same for her now.
Eito turned to frown at her. “You are still not well. It concerns me—that deep cough I do not like to think of you performing when you are ill.”
She shook her head, glancing across the room at the small baby grand piano which dominated the space in the living area. “A concert pianist performs tired or not, well or not. Surely you know that. I’ve performed all winter since I got sick after the holidays. I’ll be all right. I just can’t seem to get rid of this cough and I often get so tired at the end of the day.” She shivered, not wanting to mention how often a touch of fever flared in the afternoons, too, draining her strength….
“You are pale. You have dark circles under your eyes. You are tired all the time, not yourself. You cough too much and often are feverish. I would ask of you… Stay here in the city and rest a few weeks. Then return to the tour, well, in good health, and able to give it your best…. It would not be good if you broke down at a performance.”