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Blue(7)
Danielle Steel

“Are you okay?” Alan asked his wife with a look of concern.

“I just talked to Ginny. She’s in New York. Tomorrow is the anniversary,” she said with a meaningful look, and he nodded.

“She should come out and see her father if she’s back in the States,” he said in a disapproving tone. He was tired of seeing Becky shouldering all the burden, and Ginny none. There was always some excuse why she couldn’t. Becky was more understanding about it than he was. It didn’t seem fair to him.

“She said she will,” Becky said quietly. Alan said nothing, took off his jacket, sat down in his favorite chair, and turned on the TV to watch the news, while Becky went out to the kitchen to make their dinner, thinking about her sister. They had always had very divergent goals, but the differences between them had gotten more extreme in the past three years. Now they had nothing in common, except the same parents and their childhood history. Their lives were a million miles apart.

Ginny was thinking the same thing as she walked into her bathroom in New York, turned on the shower, and took off her clothes. Becky had a husband, three teenagers, a house in Pasadena, and an orderly life, while she had no material possessions she cared about, an apartment filled with secondhand furniture, and no one in her life, except the people she took care of around the world. When the water was hot enough, she got into the shower and let it run down her long, lean body, and on her face as it washed away her tears. She knew how painful the next day would be for her. She’d live through it as she had every year, but sometimes she wondered why. Why did she fight to hang in and stay alive? For whom? Did it really matter? It was getting harder and harder to find an answer to that question as time went by, and nothing changed, and Mark and Chris were still gone. She found it difficult to believe that she had managed to live without them for three interminable years.

Chapter 2

The next day when Ginny woke up, it was bright and sunny, and she could tell from the chill of the room that it was bitter cold outside. It was the day before Christmas Eve, the day she hated most in the year, and she was dealing with culture shock and jet lag after her trip. She turned over and went back to sleep. When she woke again four hours later, the day had turned gray and it was snowing. She found some instant coffee in the cupboard and a can of stale peanuts, which she threw away. She was too lazy to go out into the cold to get something to eat. She wasn’t hungry anyway, she never was on this day, and she wandered into the living room in her pajamas and tried not to notice the photograph of Mark and Chris in a silver frame on her battered desk. She had only two photographs of them in the apartment. The one she was trying to avoid was of Mark with Chris at his second birthday party. She sat down in the recliner and closed her eyes, thinking inevitably of the day three years before when they had gone to the party, with Chris in his little red-velvet suit with short pants and the plaid bow tie. She tried to push the image out of her mind but couldn’t. The memories were just too strong, of the party, waking up in the hospital after the accident, and then Becky telling her what had happened. They both had sobbed and everything after that was a blur. They had held the memorial service after she got out of the hospital a month later, she could hardly remember it she had been so hysterical. She had stayed in bed at Becky’s afterward for weeks. The network had been wonderful about it and asked her to take a leave of absence instead of quitting, but she knew she could never go back without Mark. Working in network news without him made no sense and would have hurt too much.

She lived on their savings, his life insurance, and the proceeds from the house sale ever since. She had enough to continue the kind of work she was doing for a long time, despite a meager salary from SOS/HR. She spent almost nothing and wanted no trappings of a fancy life. She had no needs, other than new hiking boots when hers wore out. All she needed now were rough clothes for her trips. She didn’t care what she wore, how she dressed, what she ate, or how she lived. Everything that had mattered to her before was gone. Her life was an empty shell without Mark and Chris, except for the work she did, which was the only thing that gave meaning to her existence. She had no tolerance for the injustices she saw committed every day, in different cultures and countries around the world. She had become a freedom fighter, defending women and kids—perhaps, she realized, to assuage her own guilt for not having been more aware on that fateful night, and letting her husband put all three of them at risk. All she wished was that she had died with them, but instead, cruelly, she had survived. Her punishment was to live without them for the rest of her life. The thought was almost more than she could bear when she allowed herself to contemplate it, which she rarely did, but she could never avoid it on this day. The memories came rushing at her like ghosts.

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