We pause a moment to consider each of our Pine Street crew, as the world speeds in a circle, bringing us back to a place we’d hoped to leave behind: cases are increasing, and so is fear.
Allison is back to calling her parents daily, reminding them to mask up for the grocery store. Her father’s frail health makes him eligible for a booster shot, and she pulls as many strings as she can to get him one. She finds the customers coming into the office supply store to be more jittery, and herself more afraid to ask them to wear a mask. It’s as if the divisions of the previous year were not healed but scabbed over, and the virus variant making its way through the community opened the wounds more deeply.
Kassandra finds solace in the Stitch and Bitch Club, and long talks with Jeeves. She’s not had an older woman she could turn to since Marilyn died, and finds the experience deeply reassuring. Sometimes River joins them on their walks, saying very little, soaking up the company of two people who demand nothing. Despite the return of the virus, and the pain in the community, Kassandra feels held in a way she cannot recall happening before in her young life.
Franny and Leo get on one another’s nerves in the way only people truly in love can do. They navigate through their divergent needs for togetherness and separation, their opposite rhythms, their complimentary cycles of good and bad days. Often, but not often enough, they end their days together, sitting with Allison on her front porch, Leo strumming his guitar and everyone quietly absorbing the shortening evenings.
David and Penny walk by most evenings, and the sight of the plump rosy cheeks and bright eyes of this little human perk everyone up. Far more rarely, they spy Rosa on her way home from a shift at the hospital. She waves, exhaustion emanating from the gesture like sonic waves. Franny calls her often, but she rarely has the time or energy to talk. Too many patients, too sick, and too young, Rosa might say before apologizing, again, for cutting a conversation short.
Douglas and Louise feel comfortable, settled, slightly bored. They wonder if the best parts of their lives have somehow slipped by. Their fears are ancient and new, fears of being useless, of getting too close to their expiration dates, and at the same time terror of leaving this life before they are ready.
And Louise knows that being ready means making amends with her daughter, Jessie, who she called at Christmas. Jessie plans a visit, and Louise needs to talk with Douglas. Soon.
Douglas does not yet know his wife has a daughter.