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June met me in the driveway. It felt good to take a break. The sun was shining. I closed my eyes for a second to take in its warmth.
I found a second letter in the junk drawer, addressed to June in Mom’s handwriting. It took everything I had not to steam the envelope open to have a look. But I knew I should give it directly to my aunt. Maybe at lunch.
“You drive Aunt June,” I said, opening the passenger side of her fancy caddy, “I’ve never ridden in one of these!”
June smiled and chuckled, “Maybe one day you’ll have one of your own, Grace, if you play your cards right!”
Noon hour traffic flooded the narrow downtown streets, but June knew all the shortcuts and had an “in” with Joe, the diner’s owner. Parking was an easy slip to a special spot in the back. We entered through the kitchen. Joe, the owner and chef, was putting finishing touches on someone’s lunch plate. He greeted June with a warm embrace.
“We go way back, Joe and I,” June gushed.
Joe glanced over her shoulder at me, “And who is this lovely young lady, June? Where’ve you been hiding her?” Humph…if he only knew. Maybe he did know!
“Joe, this is my niece Grace, here in town for Annie’s funeral and to get the house in order.”
“Oh yeah, I heard about Annie. So sorry for both of you. She was a nice lady.”
Joe escorted us to our table. I caught myself staring at him. Could he be the one…my father? It was a good thing I was only in town for three days, I thought, or I’d be obsessing over every man June knew, especially those from “way back.”
During lunch June and I talked about the diner…when Joe had taken over the place, how it was the best lunch spot in town. It was crowded. I was sure she had planned it that way so we wouldn’t have to talk about her letter.
But now there was another letter. I decided this was as good a time as any to give it to her. Maybe it would open the door to our talking about the first one.
“Did you find any hidden treasure in the parlor, Aunt June?
“Oh you know, lovely memories. I packed all the family photos for you. I’m sure you’ll want to keep those. How about you? Find anything good?”
“As a matter of fact,” I said, pulling the letter from my pocket, sliding it across the table toward her, “I found this. It’s from Mom to you.”
June placed her hand over the letter.
“Well aren’t you going to read it? What if it contains Mom’s last wishes? I should know, don’t you think?”
Reluctantly June slid the seal open and unfolded the letter. As she started to read her sister’s words tears welled up and streamed down her cheeks…
I know the truth about you and Tom…
As I watched from across the table, June quickly folded the letter, shoving it back into the envelope.
“I’ll finish it later Grace. Nothing pressing in it. Just a personal note. I miss Annie. Sorry I get so emotional.”
I wasn’t buying it. I only had three days to figure this out.
“We should talk June…”
“I know dear. I’m sorry, I just can’t…not here…not now.”
kat ~ 11 March 2016