Lou showed up at Margaret’s apartment one afternoon with a bag wrapped in yellowing paper.
He held the package out, insistent. “You know, you’re one of the few people I’ve ever talked to about my twin brother.” His voice stumbled a little bit over the last three words. “The other day I was cleaning out some old boxes, and I found this. I thought, because you’ve cared so much about all my stories about him, well, I wanted you to have it. You’re the only person who’s ever really listened.”
Margaret pulled off aged butcher paper to reveal a stack of laminated post cards. The top one had a photograph of the Eiffel Tower. Parisians wearing red or black berets slouched underneath the building’s lacy metal work. She shuffled through the rest of the post card stack and saw they were all from European cities.
Some were major cities with iconic images. On the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling God was prepared to touch Adam’s limpid figure. A British bobby waved a nightstick from the front of Buckingham Palace as a double-decker bus turned a corner. Bavaria’s Neuschwanstein castle rose in wintry German snows.
Other cards were from places less familiar, or ones Margaret had only remotely heard of. Men in Swiss lederhosen blew 15′ long wooden horns as impossibly high Alpine peaks soared up into the skies in the background. The geometrically tiled turrets and arches of the Alhambra palace stood in graceful rows. Margaret knew Budapest city in Hungary, but she’d never heard of the mineral baths of Marianske Lázne in Czechoslovakia. She did recognize the card was from before the country’s Velvet Revolution and peaceful divorce.
All of the cards were blank.
“When Joey died and we finally got around to organizing his things, we found these in a drawer. He’d collected postcards of places he was going to go visit. Not getting to go was the beginning of the end.” Lou saw Margaret’s stricken face. “Not literally, of course,” he added quickly. “Just… All that damned curiosity! It’s such a shame his body held him back. With the rest of us, it’s just fear that stops us.”
Margaret found herself nodding her head, agreeing with Lou. “You’re right! I used to say I’d like to go traveling, but I never did. It’s just something I put off for someday. You know, hearing about your brother makes me want to get off my butt and go start really living.”
Lou hugged her. “Yeah, but then life hits. Real life gets in the way.”
Margaret began to share deeper parts of herself. She took Lou out to Scupper Lake and told him about her long talks with her sisters. After walking around the lake they sat on the edge of the pier. Margaret had a handful of flat rocks. As they talked, she idly skipped them one at a time at the lake. Without exception they skimmed a long ways before finally sinking. “Here,” she offered, holding the ones that were left out to Lou.
He refused to take them. “I’m no good at that. But,”
“Joey?” she offered.
Lou nodded. “Joey got really good at it one summer! Christ, he sat at the edge of a pond in his wheel chair and practiced for a week without stopping! The great thing about being terminally ill is, no activity you can do is too small or insignificant.”
NOTES: ©Jadi Campbell 2012. “Hit and Run” is the first chapter of my book Broken In: A Novel in Stories. This story will run all month. Broken In and my other novels are available at Amazon as paperbacks and eBooks.
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