Chapter 19

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Abby walked over to the green wooden bleachers behind the Stone bar. Caroline would be there waiting for her. The empty outdoor rink at the edge of the fairgrounds sat next to an indoor arena. A teal Zamboni resurfaced the grey blue ice as children crowded the green carpeted benches surrounding the rink. The children showed their eagerness to get back on the ice by fidgeting their knit caps, mittens, coats, snow pants, and skates. Caroline sat on the bottom bleacher and zipped up Lilly’s purple jacket while Andrew stood on his skates, mitten in his mouth, watching the Zamboni crawl by. “Thanks for parking the car,” said Caroline. “Herding these kids from the back lot is tedious to say the least.” “Not a problem,” said Abby. She sat down next to her cousin and removed her boots. Caroline finished getting Lilly ready and instructed her to stay next to Andrew. He shuffled his skates back and forth ready to go at first sign of release. Abby and Caroline fervently got their skates on to be ready for Andrew to launch. When the Zamboni glided off the back of the rink all of the skaters poured in from the edges in one seemingly orchestrated flow. Abby followed behind Andrew and Lilly onto the ice leaving Caroline to finish lacing her own skates and sort everyone else’s belongings. Caroline would catch up with Abby and the twins when they circled around. Skating on the ice rink felt fantastic. Abby had worked out her creeks and cobwebs by skating on the lake. On the rink skating was natural and her feet effortlessly slid over the ice in unison. Lilly in front of her had the same ease, Andrew looked as though he was working very hard. Abby reached for the twins in vane. The twins scurried away, their little legs walking rapidly at times rather than skating. The weather was warm for a winter day. The sun was out and the sky was clear. Abby and the kids did not take long to circle the rink. Caroline joined them when they neared the bleachers. “You must be keeping up in the city,” said Caroline. “Not as much as you think,” said Abby. “This is great!” They lapped the rink five times at a leisurely pace before Lilly and Andrew fell back red faced and decided they wanted to hold Abby’s hands. As a group they lasted two more laps before the twins needed a break. Caroline skated to the bench closest to their bleacher to get the backpack. Abby and her junior entourage, ready to receive apple juice and water, slid in behind her. Caroline fixed the children’s scarves and hats as they sucked away at the straws of their juice boxes. She arched her eyebrow at Abby, “So did you think about what I said this morning?” “Listening to my heart, that?” “Yeah that.” “Actually I have,” said Abby, “ and something occurred to me. Will is holding back on something.” “Why do you say that?” “Because this morning when I saw him talking to mom, he told me he did not have that much to say to her. But, he has been having conversations with that tree everyday since I’ve been here. And he told her a lot more this morning than he is letting on to anyone else.” “So you think there is something going on, beyond his drinking, because you see him talking to a tree?” “Yes, I do, maybe even causing his drinking.” “You know you sound ridiculous.” “You think it’s ridiculous to think he is confiding in my mother?” asked Abby. “Not when you put it that way,” Caroline buttoned up Andrew’s top button. “It’s the talking to the tree bit that makes you sound a little paranoid.” “I see your point,” said Abby, “but there has to be more there.” “Why does there have to be so much more? He’s old, he’s alone, he drinks.” “But why start now? Michael has been gone for ten years, Mom for twenty. It doesn’t make sense for him to start drinking heavy now,” said Abby. “Who said he just started?” “But Will was never a big drinker. Neither was Mom or your parents.” “Well there is one way to find out,” said Caroline. Caroline shifted her eyes toward the liquor store across the street. To simply go into the only village liquor store and ask them how often Will came in had not occurred to Abby. She could only see the back of the store from the bleachers. Abby imagined walking into the front and hearing something that she did not want to hear.

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