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Monica Hardie Word Count 11,068

204 W Fairview

Colfax, WA 99111



David Jennings sat frozen in his leather chair, enveloped by the semi-darkness of his study. It was three o’clock on a bright spring afternoon, and there was still plenty of daylight left. The room had a single window, high up on the wall behind him, shielded from the world by the sentinel oak tree which stood beyond. Little sunlight filtered through the tall oak’s branches, and he had not bothered to turn on either of the room’s lamps. This lack of light seemed entirely appropriate – the room’s appearance mirroring the darkness in his heart. He squeezed his eyes shut and was surprised to feel a tear make its way down one cheek. Surprised, because he would not have believed he had any tears left. Not now. Not after everything he had been through.

He glanced around the room and seemed confused to find himself there, unsure of how or when he had left the nook outside the kitchen. The last thing he consciously remembered was placing the tea kettle on the stove’s small back burner and then walking into the nook, where he had noticed the tiny red light blinking on the answering machine. He had automatically reached for his beeper, before remembering that Dr. Larsen was covering for him at the clinic. He had taken the afternoon off, removing his pager and placing it in his briefcase, grateful to be free from its shrill electronic signal; if only for an afternoon.

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