Wallace Page 12
    "You're handling that?" Maybe Clarissa didn't need my help.
    He shrugged. "Yeah. It's a bitch." He started to mount the stairs but then stopped. "Do you need a pillow or blanket or anything?"
    "No, I'm okay."
    "You sure?"
    I nodded, and he proceeded up the stairs. "Get some sleep," he called.
    I listened to the floorboards creak as he made his way over to the bedroom and climbed in bed. The house was still.

    The next morning, despite the early hour, my sister fixed me eggs. I didn't thank her for breakfast for fear of upsetting her more, so I ate silently. While I ate, she told me she'd have someone auction off Mom's things and send me a check for half of the money.

    "That's really okay. I'm fine."
    "Well, we're fine too," she said, defensively. "So you better just take the check when it comes."
    Sam and all three kids made it outside just in time to see me pull away at six.
    "See you later," I said from the curb.
    They all waved, but in different directions and at different times. The kids hardly waved at all, still sleepy and probably hating their mother for waking them up to wave to a stranger. Sam's wave was wide and jerking, as if making up for closing the door on my face the day before last, and Clarissa's was a slight opening-closing of her cupped hand~hopeful and melancholy.


    The plane lands without incident. The woman across the aisle is out of her seat and waiting by the door as the plane