Cassandra’s Tears

Tears of joy, tears of pain, we are reflected in the salt-water pools we create. So let us build a fleet of paper boats and sail them on our ocean of indecision, laughing at the wind-whipped white-crested waves that would wash over us, drowning us in our own despair, yet somehow never vanquishing us in the end.

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Location: Lennoxville, Quebec, Canada

Sunday, December 26, 2010


The sky was reverberant with geese flying every which way in their V-shaped communities.

“They’re flying the wrong way,” Nicole said to Phyllis. “That’s not south.”

Phyllis looked up from her lattè and squinted at the chaos overhead. It was true, the geese were flapping and honking, but none of the Vs was headed south toward warmer climes.

“Maybe they’re lost,” she said.

Nicole didn’t think so, but she didn’t know why exactly. She’d read something about magnetic fields and wind directions and knew the geese were smarter than they looked, and that somehow they always ended up where they were supposed to. Phyllis glanced at her watch and drained the rest of her coffee quickly.

“Got to run, Duckie,” she said. “I’ll see you at Mother’s tonight.” Then she kissed her sister on both cheeks, gave her a quick hug, and hurried out of the café. Nicole sighed.

Ever since their mother had been admitted to the residence, the two sisters found they had less and less quality time to spend together. When they met, it was to grab a quick coffee and discuss the care and feeding of their mother, who was now incapable of either since her stroke. She missed just having girl talk. Now it was all business. Nicole thought of the eventuality of the old woman’s death and wondered if she would gain her sister back after she lost her mother. It wasn’t a pleasant thought. Instead she looked out the window and watched the geese arrow above, going everywhere but the right direction.

“Would you like something else?” asked the waitress.

“No thanks, I’m done here,” said Nicole. “I’ll pay at the cash.”

Leaving the café, she started rummaging around in her purse for the address of the bookbinder that she’d copied down from the phone book. She had a set of dictionaries that had been her grandfather’s, with a publication date sometime in the late 1880’s, and they needed to be rebound desperately. She’d written the address down hurriedly on a scrap of shopping list and shoved it in her bag, but now she couldn’t find it.

“I’ve got to clean this out,” she thought to herself, starting to get a little frantic. There were bills, receipts, concert tickets, kleenexes, a lipstick and several matchbooks, but the torn piece of yellow paper with pink lines was nowhere to be seen. “This is crazy,” she thought.

Another spate of geese honking made her look up and there, right in front of her, was the sign, Books Rebound. She let out a sigh of relief and headed across the street to the shop, only to be greeted by another sign in the window: Closed. “Well, that sucks,” she said to no one in particular. “What do I do now?”

Nicole stood still on the sidewalk and felt like a lost goose. The passersby milled about her, traffic made a constant roar, and the honking continued overhead. She didn’t know where to go or what to do. Her purpose of seeking out the bookbinder was lost, as was her sense of direction.

“I suppose I could go home,” she said, then realized she had spoken out loud and thought people might think her slightly daft. But she didn’t want to go home. There she would undoubtedly go to the next thing on her to-do list, right after “visit bookbinder”. In her mind’s eye she saw the list on the kitchen table, the bottom torn off where she had written down the address that she couldn’t find and now didn’t need. Just then her cellphone rang, and she grabbed it as a drowning man might lunge at a line thrown to him.

“Hello?” she answered. It was Phyllis. Hadn’t they just parted ways moments ago?

“Nicole, honey,” her sister’s voice said urgently, “come to the home. Now. They think Mom might be on her way out.”

Nicole snapped the phone shut, shoved it back into her overstuffed purse and found her car keys. Suddenly she had her purpose back, and her sense of direction. “But for how long,” she wondered as her eyes were drawn once more skyward. “For how long?”


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