Is It Dead – Chapter 2

Chapter 2

“Time waits for no man.”

— Danish Proverb


It was five years in the making.  Maybe more.  The budding friendship seemed to bloom and blossom on every front.  Dinner invitations.  Evenings out together.  Shared likes, interests, goals, lives.  Swapping cards, kids and conversation.   Small slices in the armored chinks of anonymity.  Nibbling away at the rhinoceros hide exterior Sylvia Winthrop had cultivated as protection from a painful past.  Small kindnesses, anonymous generosities doing their slow, steady work of melting the tundra.  An afternoon at the mall here.  A shared ice cream there.  Picnics.  Tickets to the premiere.  A summer hiking trip.  Bouquets.  Calls.  Cards.  Connecting.  Cultivating a friendship one season at a time, with progress toward Close measured in minutes and minutia, one seed at a time.

Until the murder.

Neither beautiful nor plain but somewhere in between, Sylvia Marion Winthrop’s fine oval face showed resolve and inner strength.  And little else.  Mysterious and enigmatic, Sylvia Winthrop could be hard to read even for those who’d known her for decades.  She was interesting, witty and very bright but there was a slightly stiff quality about her, not superior or grand, just a little frosty and inaccessible. 

In what she called “the prime of mid-life – my fifties,” Sylvia gave the impression that you probably wouldn’t get to discover who she really was even if you were marooned with her on a desert isle for years.  Incandescent and luminous, the tall, slim woman glowed with light but no heat.  It was the light that drew people to Sylvia – until they inevitably bumped into the crêpe lampshade separating bulb from ambient light.  Few – if any – pierced the lampshade.

Claire got close a few times.  As close as any.  Sylvia Winthrop, wife of one, mother of four, grandmother of three, was perhaps far sharper and edgier than her twinkling countenance suggested.  Claire sometimes sensed a prickly quality seeping into Sylvia’s voice, leaking out her eyes.  It didn’t take long for Claire to find that her friend with the omnipresent smile had two smiles.  At least two.  It was when Sylvia’s mouth said Yes but her voice and her eyes said No.  That Mona Lisa smile.  Those Mona Lisa eyes.



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