Pine Street Christmas 2020: Gatherings 7

The wi-fi in Leo’s basement apartment can be sketchy, so Franny stops in to her apartment to have a video chat with her family. She takes the opportunity to open a window for a while, letting the cold, fresh air flow through. 

She remembers the time she returned from a trip, when Kassandra had house-sat for her, and her friend had cleaned the place with something that smelled bright and lemony. Franny smiles at the flood of memories that moment releases: that first awkward dinner party; the walks with Marilyn, always starting with a visit to the coffee shop; helping Allison when she was locked out. 

Behind these memories, she touches the fear that accompanied her to this apartment. Knowing she would have to support herself, uncertain how to do that. Baffled by the notion of rebuilding a life. Convinced that there was no “home” for her, no place to belong. Terrified by the recognition of loving and needing another person, after her resolution never to rely on anyone, ever again.

And now. Even as vaccines begin to circulate, the layer of fear from pandemic spreads a dirty film on everything. Franny wonders what it would be like to face this without Leo, and shivers.

A few minutes later, Leo joins her for a short, laughter-filled video chat with her brother, the person who connected them, way back when. After the chat, Leo and Franny button things up again, knowing the likelihood that someone will need the place to isolate is high.

Even so, the warmth of connecting with family lifts their spirits for the short walk home.

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