“Oh leave your suitcase there for now,” Gwenny said, letting go of Lauren’s arm. “Let’s get something to drink and sit and talk awhile Sis,” she said motioning Lauren to an adjoining room, which turned out to be a very nice kitchen. Gwenny had decorated it in a country theme and it was cozy.
“What would you like Lauren? I have tea, water, wine, or soda.”
Lauren noticed there were pictures of their mother and father on the wall. “Maybe some wine would be nice. I need to relax a little.” Their mother had died three years ago of a heart problem exacerbated by sugar diabetes. She was 73 years old. When Lauren left for Sydney, her Dad was very able to care for himself and was visited weekly by an in-home care person who cleaned his home and ensured he was doing okay.
Gwenny opened the refrigerator. Extracting a chilled bottle of pink Chablis, she headed for the island in the middle of the kitchen and setting the bottle on the counter, pulled open a drawer and began looking for a corkscrew.
Lauren walked over to a nearby window and looked out. Gwenny had a beautiful view of the city. Stunning was more the word. Having not seen this place for so long, Lauren was struck by it. She could see their old neighborhood where their parent’s house was located.
“Hey! Nice view Gwenny! I can almost see Mom and Dad’s house from here!”
“Yeah. I love it here Lauren. It’s new and nice and gets me into a whole different frame of mind whenever I’m here. Hey – I’m really glad Luke decided not to come up with you. It would have spoiled our homecoming some.” Gwenny had found the corkscrew and was now screwing it tightly into the wine bottle cork.
“It was an interesting ride home. I told that Turd what I thought of him Gwenny. He was all like: “I promised to pick you up if you ever came back home” What a crock of shit. Not sure what he thought he was going to get, but what he got was “Goodbye Luke and Good Riddens! That turd!”
“You feel the same way I do about “The Turd” Laruen!” Gwenny said with a chuckle. “Turd! Ha ha! That’s funny Lauren!” Gwenny paused briefly – “but Oh so true! Here ya go!” said Gwenny, handing Lauren a cool glass of wine. "I wish I had known his true nature before you left Lauren."
They settled into the living room and when Gwenny opened the drapes, the view here was even more breathtaking. Lauren and Gweeny sat for some time just sipping wine, quietly staring out at the city. One wall of the room was entirely glass. There was a couch in front of it and in front of that was a glass coffee table. The opposite wall was one large bookshelf covering the entire wall with areas for nick-knacks, a stereo and large flat screen television. It was impressive. The feng shui of this space was wonderful; bringing heaven and earth into harmony, and making Lauren feel comfortable and warm. After a few sips of wine, she was starting to feel tired.
Breaking the lazy silence, Gwenny said “I’m sorry I couldn’t come to pick you up at the airport Lauren. I had to get Dad’s breakfast and wait for the hospice nurse to arrive. We haven’t been talking regularly so you probably don’t know, but Dad’s dying. He’s been diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas and they’re telling me he’s got maybe a month or so to live. That’s why I sent Luke even though I knew that wasn’t going to be the best homecoming for you.”
“Shit!” Lauren stared at Gwenny. She was angry. “Shit! You could have called and told me!” she said. “Let’s go right now and see him!”
“Wait Sis. I told Dad you were coming; but told him you were arriving tomorrow. I wanted to give you and me some time together and give you some time to relax before we went over to see him k.”
“How long have you known?” Lauren asked.
Gwenny moved over next to Lauren and held her hand. “He was diagnosed about four months ago. He was having a lot of trouble taking care of himself and wouldn’t get out of bed for days on end. The lady who comes in to look after him let us know. We took him to the doctor and they had to do tests for a couple of weeks. Taking care of Dad really stressed me out and took a toll on my relationship with Luke. He felt like he wasn’t first in our relationship anymore and just couldn’t understand that my Dad has to come first. You know it has been really really hard dealing with Dad and Luke at the same time. I finally figured out that one of them had to go and of course it wasn’t going to be Dad! You and I weren’t exactly on speaking terms at the time Sis. Luke didn’t understand and hit me around a little bit. I had to get a restraining order and he went to jail for a week or so, but he seemed to have calmed down now so I thought it would be okay to let him pick you up.”
“Ahh. Luke hit your around? Looks like I have more business with that Turd than I thought! Gwenny, I don’t think you’ve had time to notice; but you might as well know now, I’m not the frail person that left here! Not by a long shot. Do us both a favor and swear you'll never see or talk to Luke again!”
Seeing the flush in Lauren’s cheeks and realizing it was not merely due to the wine, Gwenny changed the subject. “Tell me about your life in Sydney?”
“I’m doing well Sis,” Lauren said still thinking about her Dad. “We.. I mean a man I met there named Peter, and I.. we live in a place not unlike this. I met him about two months ago and he is totally gorgeous. He’s got a good sense of humor. He respects me and treats me like we’re a team. He's good for me Gwenny.”
“Wow! I guess things always change. How come you didn’t call and tell me about Peter?” Gwenny said with a sly smile.
Lauren knew it was hopeless to fight over who called who, and just like Gwenny she wanted more than anything to put the past behind them. “Let’s put it all behind us Gwenny. Please Sis. It’s not worth fighting over these silly men and the past huh.”
“Oh Lauren. Thank you!” said Gwenny; tears again streaming down her face. “I’m so sorry about Luke. It was so stupid of me. I've learned Lauren, I really have! Sisters are more important than men anytime!”
Lauren held her sister in a tight embrace. “It’s all over now Sis. Sounds like we’ve got some work to do to care for Dad before he’s gone. Let’s focus on that for the time being okay?”
“Yep, he’s really frail now Lauren. He has good days and bad days. Mostly bad these days. I feel like he’s slipping away from us quicker than we’d like.”
“Shit!” said Lauren.. “Let’s stay in, get cozy, watch an old movie and catch up tonight and then go over and see Dad and talk about how we’re going to handle this tomorrow. You have some pop-corn in the house Gwenny?”
Gwenny put her head on Lauren’s shoulder and sobbed openly - “I’ve missed you so much Sis! It’s been so hard without Mom or you.”
Lauren held her sister close and switched on the television...
The Bluetooth phone in Luke’s Buick started ringing and he answered: “Hello, this is Luke,” he said as he was pulling into the parking garage underneath his apartment building.
“Mr. Luke. Just wanted you to know, they haven’t left Miss Gwenn’s place at all.”
“I’m paying you one-hundred dollars a week for information buddy!” Luke said angrily. “I want to know more than this little bit of shit! You like the money huh! They you better tell me everything or you can kiss it goodbye.”
Franklin hesitated and began to tell Luke every detail of Lauren's ride up the elevator and their homecoming in the hallway……..