Is it Dead (Intro & Chapter 1)

   Dear Gentle Readers:

I’m trying something new.       

 We’ve focused on a women’s relationships/ministry theme for awhile.  Today I’m launching a variation on the Daughters of Eve meme – a novella in serial form.  Working title: Is it Dead (lack of punctuation deliberate.)  I‘ll break the novella into “bite-sized pieces,” posting one short chapter at a time. 

Please join us as we meet Sylvia Marion Winthrop and Claire Allyson Sinclair, two former friends.  Can you figure out what went wrong in their friendship – if anything?  Has something like this ever happened to you?

***

Chapter 1 

“The opposite of love isn’t hate.  It’s indifference.” 

Is it dead. 

The cold Texas sky turned pewter and onyx as Claire Sinclair turned the words over in her mind.  Dusky hues of a Hill Country winter ricocheted off the jade-green waters of the Guadalupe River Valley of Kerrville, south-central Texas.  Just across the river a lone bulb ringed the sidewalk outside a conference room with anemic light.  Her pale cheeks pinked with cold, the forty-ish woman stooped and lifted a limp limb from the crumpled body at her feet.  She searched for a pulse, the slightest shred of life.  Anything other than the glazed-over, inert eyes that stared back at her.

Claire Sinclair crouched over the motionless, response-less corpse.  She gave it another prod followed by a cautious poke.  Touched neck, chest, and inner wrist in a vain attempt to detect a heart beat, a breath.  Anything.  Nothing.  A stern thump elicited neither noise nor complaint.  The body was still warm.  It was a lie.  Claire stood, shoulders slumped, and grimly admitted defeat. 

Is it dead. 

Words that should’ve been cobbled together into a question became a declaration, more mortician’s pronouncement than interrogatory.  The question Claire asked herself – if it was a question – had an answer.  She tasted it, turned it over with her tongue, sensed it in the endless expanse of woolly silence and the dead eyes that looked past her into Nothing.  Had they always looked at her that way and Claire never noticed until now? 

Please God, Claire mumbled.   Don’t let it end like this. Cramming an errant strand of butterscotch hair under her stocking cap, Claire Allyson Sinclair zipped up her jacket in a vain attempt to ward off the coming frost.  She tucked her chin into her collar.  Maybe with a roar but please, not a whimper.  

Claire started to move away from the body, gingerly at first.  Her resolve stiffened with each step.  All this time, all these years.  Was it a mirage?  Was any of it real?  She tried to shrug off the grief that clung to her like a viscous jelly. 

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