First Page: Unpublished Manuscript
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The globe’s surface was irregular, as if it truly was a miniature world – Everest shrunk to the height of a fingernail, the waves of the oceans smoothed to an infinitesimal roughness. Its high gloss finish glared where the light from the floor lamp struck it. She bumped her fingertip gently down the tiny ridge of the Rockies.
“Abigail?” Martin approached quietly, stood at her right shoulder. “It’s time to go.”
She wasn’t ready. Would she ever be ready? She gripped the globe, whirled it. She couldn’t blame her dizziness on the blurring world before her. She’d been lightheaded, disconnected, out of touch, for days now. Not that anyone had noticed. She’d been careful to act her normal sedate, organized, earnest self.
But inside she was screaming. Screaming so hard she couldn’t hear herself think.
“The limousine is waiting.” Martin’s tone was soothing, patient, as if she were so fragile a loud noise might break her.
She gritted her teeth. Closing her eyes, she reached out and stopped the globe with a finger. Through her lashes she saw her finger resting well below the tip of Greenland, lost in the nothingness of the Atlantic. She spun the globe again. Harder.
“I can’t believe she’s gone.” She willed the tears from her eyes, focusing fiercely on the coloured
sphere revolving on its tilted axis, too fast for her eyes to follow.
Martin patted her back. “It will get better. You just have to give it time,” he said.
She slept with the man, and the best he could do was an awkward “there, there?” She wanted him to pull her into his arms and hold her, hold her until the icy splinters of pain in her chest melted away. But he wouldn’t. Maybe couldn’t.”I keep thinking that she’s all alone, now. She would hate that. She always wanted me or Tobias with her.” Abigail had never begrudged the time she’d spent with her mother if it meant Tobias could escape. It was enough that her mother’s insecurities had stunted her own life. She couldn’t allow them to stifle her younger brother’s as well.
“Your mother loved you both. It’s not unreasonable she wanted you near.”
The globe inched to a stop in Southeast Asia. She stared at it blindly. “I wanted to travel. Every time I mentioned it, though, she stressed out so much I couldn’t go through with it. I gave in, every time.”
Martin sighed and shifted his weight. He tugged on the cuffs on his dark grey suit. “Your father died in a plane crash. Of course she’d be nervous about you gallivanting about.”
Abigail’s head snapped up. “Gallivanting? You make it sound like I wanted to hitchhike around the world. All I wanted was a few weeks somewhere exotic.” She glared at him, noticing without surprise his boringly appropriate appearance–sober tie, well cut suit masking a desk-job belly, thinning blond hair brushed straight back from a high forehead. “And you know it was more than just flying. It was” –she flung out one hand restlessly– “everything.”
“I know you had problems with your mother. But now is not the time to discuss them.”
“I just wish…” Her chest tightened, squeezing the air from her lungs, and she pulled the asthma inhaler from the pocket of her black dress. “It must have been a horrible way to live, worrying all the time, certain that the worst was going to happen. And now I worry…” She sucked in a dose of medication, but it wasn’t shortness of breath that stopped her from finishing the sentence. It was fear. She was petrified to admit she’d become just like her mother. Scared to explore, scared to adventure, scared to live.