Ragged lives invisibly repaired

He had curly hair like his father. She smiled to think about it.

He was the most charming little boy anyone was likely to meet. And intelligent! He talked months earlier than his brother had.

Everyone who heard his little solo in his first school concert agreed that he had the voice of an angel, so that wasn't just a mother's bias.

She opened the little jewelry case on the back of the shelf in her bedroom, and pulled out the pasta necklace he'd presenter her on her fortieth birthday. It was a pasta necklace, but she had worn it often.

But perhaps not often enough.


"Gina, have you seen George?"

"He must be over there"

Both women peered at the group of children screaming and running from the breakers."

"I don't see him. Where's Bill?"

"He went in to get a beer."

"He went… he was supposed to be watching George!"

"Oh… George will be fine. He's got Richard and all his cousins. Kelly and Liz live here, for goodness' sakes! They know all about…"

"Yes, but I don't see him, and he's only eight!"

"You probably…"

"Richard! Kelly! Come here!"

Two of the older children ran towards them across the sand.

"Where is George?"

Richard looked sullen. "I don't know. Mum, can I go back in the water and play."

"No, we need to find your brother! Kelly?"

"I haven't seen him either. He was playing with Michaela a little while ago."

She started running toward the water.


Five hours later, she was sitting, listening but not really hearing:

"probably knocked over… concussion… maybe no one noticed… time of death…"

"Martha?" Someone was tapping her shoulder. "Martha? Are you…"

"No!"

"Martha." She couldn't talk to him. Not right now. Not when… "You were supposed to be watching him, Bill. I said when I went in, are you watching? Bill, you were…"

"Martha!"

"No, I can't. I just can't…" And she ran out of the room.


Bill was never quite the same after that either. They'd been so in love when they met, and married, and for those first few years. It started when he wanted to move back to his family in Florida, but she refused to cross the Atlantic ever again.

But thinking about Bill was really thinking about George.

She thought of George when arguments with Bill escalated to physical violence. When she was notified that he had moved back to Florida and was not even asking for visiting rights to Richard. When alimony didn't come. George would have protected her from Bill. He would have eventually provided for her when he got his job as a policeman the way he'd always wanted. And George would have seen to it that the man who had never even spent time in jail for hitting his mother got justice when he murdered that poor woman in Boca Raton, and Richard was too busy with his own law firm and that… Cindy… well, she couldn't cast stones when it came to choosing a life partner…

So sometimes… sometimes it was easy—so very easy!—to imagine he was still there. Still charming. Still loved her very much.

His hair was still curly. His voice was deeper, but he was in his thirties, so that was to be expected. And his eyes were closer to grey than brown.

But no one need know.


"I'll keep the rooms until you find a flatmate, Sherlock. Take as much time as you need."