An Unexpected Gift
Two months had passed since Tom’s death and, like a leech, the numbed emptiness Sylvia felt continued to suck out purposefulness from her life; while the humdrum of her daily life had become imprisoned within a brew of forlorn desperation and debilitating remorse. Life’s self-scripted past echoed its hallowed naked emptiness and negative untruths while it subversively gained unheralded success and, unwonted, supplanted what should have been the bright promise that adheres to a day’s sunshine with the unlit, windowless cellar of a cloud-filled soul that stumbled about looking for its light.
Two days from what would have been their 10th wedding anniversary, she knew this happenstance meeting with Thackeray, their family lawyer, would have profound impact. There were practicalities that had to be addressed surrounding Tom’s will. But with those practicalities came finality; Tom’s finality; their finality. They were practicalities for the moment she felt a need to shun. Now that there was a strong likelihood that those smothering and invasive practicalities were about to press in, she steeled her mind to push back. She needed more time. Time to preserve memories of Tom and her and to keep them fresh a little longer before time’s kneading and transforming nature stole them and unceremoniously dropped them into its evolving mystic dreamscape.
Recognizing that it was pointless for her to hide from Thackeray, she took in a deep breath and marched down the beach to where he was helping Pepper dislodge something from between the rocks.
“Pepper! Get over here!” She commanded, pointing down to her side.
Thackeray was a very lean and tall individual who always had a sullen look pasted on his long, hollowed-cheeked face and a sneering smile that easily discouraged open friendliness. Known as a ‘bit of a snore,’ his colleagues nicknamed him ‘Sealy’ because of his ability to put the courtroom to sleep during dissertation.
Thackeray pulled down his toque tightly over his ears and pushed up his high-back collar as he turned to meet Sylvia. “I’m pleased that Pepper had the foresight to finally bring us together,” he called out, reproachfully.
“Your point is taken, Thackeray,” Sylvia said coldly, coming to a full stop a few feet away and snapping her fingers to get Pepper’s attention. “Get over here!”
“Sylvia? You…did get my calls?”
Pursing her lips, she glanced up at him as she attached the leash to Pepper’s harness and straightening up she let out a long exasperated sigh. “Time, Thackeray! I need time! Surely, you of all people understand that. Susan’s been gone—How long?—a year…a year and a half?”
Susan was Thackeray’s late wife.
“Actually, it’s been almost three years,” he quietly replied, looking away.
When his attention finally returned to her, there was earnestness in his expression and in his voice.
“Sylvia, we must talk.”
She stared at him in silence.
“I don’t mean here…at my office.”
Sylvia shook her head and began to walk away ignoring Pepper’s resistant tugs on the leash.
“Sylvia! At least let us set a time!” he implored, picking up his pace but choosing to remain a short distance behind her.
Stopping, she turned to face him and said: “What can be so urgent about a mundane will? Damn you! Can’t you let me grieve a little longer?”
“His will is by no means mundane, Sylvia,” he retorted. He cleared his throat. “As you know, the month before Tom’s death he added an addendum to his will.”
“I…I…didn’t…” She could feel her shoulders sag from his unexpected revelation.
“Oh…he told me…I thought…hmm… You and Pepper finish your walk. After you’ve taken him home, drop by my office. Say, two o’clock?”
He mustered up his best empathetic smile before continuing: “An hour should give you enough time, don&...