Come fly away to a sunnier day
The islands are calling your name
Feel the caress of warm, tropical breezes—
“Sadistic shits.” Lucy snapped off the radio and watched the wiper blades sweep the snow apathetically across the windshield, as if they sensed the sheer futility of the task. Her plane from Seattle had bodysurfed the crest of the rising storm into O’Hare barely an hour ago. Now the weather settled in enthusiastically. Snowflakes hit her windshield in drunken clumps and gummed up behind the wiper blades.
“Welcome home, Lucy Flint.”
From across the street, a light went on in the house—a red-brick Edwardian that had long since drifted past shabby chic and into dilapidated. It was a shame. It was a beautiful, old classic built square and solid out of wood and rufous brick, standing like a citadel against the hostile climate.
A shadow darted past the window as she watched. Lucy pictured her mother moving around in the golden glow from that second-floor light. Mom moved like a squirrel, quick and fearful, darting away from danger as fast as she could and busy, busy, always busy.
Lucy wasn’t holding her breath for the fatted calf. In that house, he would be waiting too, nursing his spite along with his nightly tipple of cheap drugstore wine—one and no more. Lucy made a snorting sound. She’d obviously not inherited that from her father.
The silhouette was framed briefly against the curtains of her old bedroom and Lucy sighed. Mom would be getting her room ready. Lucy would rather dispense with the frenzy of anxious preparation. It couldn’t be helped, however, when you were an only child.
She’d been away long enough to be shocked by the cold that felt as if it would eat your face off before it quit. Ah, yes, Chicago. Other cities had climates, but Chicago had weather— lots of it and all the time.
Suddenly she thought of an old joke. How cold is out there? Cold enough for hell to freeze over and the Cubs to win the pennant. Lucy let out a huge guffaw that was so much more than the tired old workhorse of a joke deserved. Yup, she was so losing it, and she hadn’t even gotten out of the car yet. As an augury, it pretty much sucked.
She stared through the snow at the waiting house and took a deep breath and then another. In her head, she chanted the Serenity Prayer. It was all she had against the angry mob of memories clustering around the wooden front porch and jeering at her. The prayer granted her a moment’s reprieve, so she said it again. The knot in her stomach unraveled some. She was here for a reason, and that reason was good and just. Lucy reached for her phone and a teeny bit more reinforcement.
“Hey, you.” Mads was waiting for her call and answered on the first ring.
“How was the flight?”
“Fine.” Lucy snickered. “Boy, are my arms tired.” It was her night for elementary school jokes.