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copyright © 1999, 2000,2001   Andrew V. Smith. All Rights Reserved

Survival and Balance, continued

never notices them. Finally, the door to intensive care opens. April’s dad, Mr. Wiley, approaches them. He motioned the two girls to come over.
          “If anyone asks, you’re her sisters . . . OK,” Mr. Wiley says. “Follow me.” Both girls nod and head into intensive care behind April’s dad. April’s mom, Prima, is sitting by her bed holding April’s hand. April’s eyelids flutter almost continuously. Her head tosses slowly from side to side. April mutters incoherently from time to time. The girls can’t do much but be there.
           When it’s time to leave Sandy bends down and whispers in April’s ear, “I know what happened. Hang in there; I’ll be back.” The ride home is very quiet. They leave the bustle of Newport’s hospital district and head towards the quiet of their own neighborhood. Karen takes the back roads home. Leaving the hospital parking lot, she eventually takes Bliss Mine Road to Green End Avenue. Green End Avenue snakes around the pond Newport uses for drinking water. Sandy looks at the sleeping swans with little interest. They turn onto Miantonomi Drive and head toward Middletown and home.
          Back in the hospital, April slips into a fitful sleep. In her dream she’s standing barefoot in the sand at Newport Beach. It’s dark and foggy, possibly midnight. The lights from the houses, that line the shores on either side of the mile-long beach, shine faintly through the dark haze. A foghorn sounds in the distance. April hears but cannot see the waves pounding upon the beach. She’s barely aware that she is near one of the white lifeguard towers.
          “You’re early,” a voice quietly speaks behind April.
          April practically jumps out of her skin and quickly turns completely around to face the owner of the voice. The figure moves out of the fog and April’s jaw falls. It’s Melissa; April’s aunt. She’s been dead for at least a decade. Aunt Melissa’s wry smile was barely visible in the dark.
          “You are early, April.”
          April can not shut her mouth. This must be a dream. My aunt is dead.
          Melissa reads April’s mind and suppresses a smile. “I take it that Sandy hasn’t had the chance to tell you about her lesson with Penny.”
          April nods yes. She still is trying to deal with what cannot be. 


ORDER: A CIRCLE OF TWO: Book of Newport