Ever since Leo invited Marilyn to that first dinner party on Pine Street, the one when Franny served slightly gummy pasta, when Allison’s (now ex) boyfriend brought the best bottle of wine, the one when they all went tromping through the snow to get ice cream for dessert, Marilyn’s spirit has hovered like a guardian angel over the group of friends that formed on that awkward, funny, warm evening.
Her art inspired Kassandra, and her artist’s life inspired them all. Her house offered a central, grounding place, a place of wedding celebrations and celebrations of life and friends lost. Marilyn brought Franny to the coffee shop, Douglas and David to Pine Street, and Penelope’s sister, Louise, into their lives.
As soon as Allison showed him the building permit with Marilyn’s last name on it, Leo called Franny and asked her to walk over. The three of them sat on Allison’s porch and gazed at the paper with wonder.
“It could be a coincidence. It’s not a totally uncommon name,” Allison offered. Leo and Franny murmured agreement, but none of them believed it.
It seemed far more plausible, even likely, that Marilyn’s family had been at the heart of Pine Street and this town forever.
“Well, if there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s research,” Allison went on. “I’ll start looking into it tomorrow.”
“It’s her,” Leo said. “Allison, you were drawn to this house from the start. Marilyn’s spirit is here. I can feel it. Can’t you?”
“I always feel Marilyn. She’s everywhere,” Franny answered. “That doesn’t prove her family built this place, of course. You know, it almost doesn’t matter. I mean, it would be so fun to find out she has a history here we didn’t know about, that her roots were here, and all that. But even if it isn’t true, it won’t change how I feel about her.”
Leo took her hand, seeing the tears on her face. Franny went on.
“Pine Street is home for me because of her. And you two. And Kassandra, and Douglas. Even David and that poor girl Sasha. All of you, all of us. Marilyn’s love glues us together, and together we make a tribe.”
They sat in silence as the sun dipped below the horizon, creating an immediate deepening of the chill in the air.
“Yeah, I’m still going to research it, though,” Allison said, sending them laughing into the night.