But still yearning for more. Clara took a few more steps down the long, long, white marble hallway. Her first dream as a child, her last dream that morning, almost fifty years later, was at the far end of the hard white hallway. He was by far the more successful artist, with his exquisite studies of life in close-up. So detailed, and so close that a piece of the natural world appeared distorted and abstract.
Peter took what was natural and made it appear unnatural. People ate it up. Thank God. It kept food on the table and the wolves, while constantly circling their little home in Three Pines, were kept from the door. Thanks to Peter and his art.
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Clara glanced at him walking slightly ahead of her, a smile on his handsome face. She knew most people, on first meeting them, never took her for his wife. Instead they assumed some slim executive with a white wine in her elegant hand was his mate. An example of natural selection.
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Of like moving to like. The distinguished artist with the head of graying hair and noble features could not possibly have chosen the woman with the beer in her boxing glove hands. And the studio full of sculptures made out of old tractor parts and paintings of cabbages with wings. Peter Morrow could not have chosen her. That would have been unnatural. Clara would have smiled had she not been fairly certain she was about to throw up. Oh, no no no, she thought again as she watched Peter march purposefully toward the closed door and the art wraiths waiting to pass judgment.
On her. But mostly she wanted to turn and flee, to hide. To stumble back down the long, long, light-filled, art-filled, marble-filled hallway. And this is where it led.
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Someone had lied. She walked down this corridor. Composed and collected. Beautiful and slim. Witty and popular. Into the waiting arms of an adoring world.
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There was no terror. No nausea. No creatures glimpsed through the frosted glass, waiting to devour her. Dissect her. Diminish her, and her creations. Had not told her something else might be waiting. Oh, no no no, thought Clara.
What was the rest of the poem? Why did it elude her? Now, within feet of the end of her journey all she wanted to do was run away home to Three Pines. To open the wooden gate. To race up the path lined with apple trees in spring bloom. To slam their front door shut behind her.
To lean against it. To lock it. To press her body against it, and keep the world out. She realized she was holding her breath and wondered for how long. To make up for it she started breathing rapidly. Peter was talking but his voice was muffled, far away. Drowned out by the shrieking in her head, and the pounding in her chest. And the noise building behind the doors. As they got closer. Clara opened her hand and dropped her purse. It fell with a plop to the floor, since it was all but empty, containing simply a breath mint and the tiny paint brush from the first paint-by-number set her grandmother had given her.
Clara dropped to her knees, pretending to gather up invisible items and stuff them into her clutch. She lowered her head, trying to catch her breath, and wondered if she was about to pass out. Clara stared from the purse on the gleaming marble floor to the man crouched across from her. He was kneeling beside her, watching, his kind eyes life preservers thrown to a drowning woman. She held them. His voice was calm.
This was their own private crisis. Their own private rescue. Not missing her right away. Not noticing his wife was kneeling on the floor. Seeing his silky blond hair, and the lines only visible very close up. More lines than a thirty-eight-year-old man should have. Go back home. The dew heavy under her rubber boots.
The early roses and late peonies damp and fragrant. Not once had she imagined herself collapsed on the floor. In terror. Longing to leave. To go back to the garden.
But Olivier was right. Not yet. Oh, no no no. They were the only way home now. Clara laughed, and exhaled. And in that instant the body of the poem surfaced. The rest of it was revealed. I was much too far out all my life.gotlecomligh.tk
The Butcher Shop (Enigmatic Moon Mysteries)
From far off Armand Gamache could hear the sound of children playing. He knew where it was coming from. He sometimes liked to sit there and pretend the shouts and laughter came from his young grandchildren, Florence and Zora. He imagined his son Daniel and Roslyn were in the park, watching their children. Or he and Reine-Marie would join them. And play catch, or conkers. But mostly he just listened to the shouts and shrieks and laughter of neighborhood children.
And smiled. And relaxed. His wife, Reine-Marie, sat across from him on their balcony. She too had a cold beer on this unexpectedly warm day in mid-June. But her copy of La Presse was folded on the table and she stared into the distance. He was silent for a moment, watching her. Her hair was quite gray now, but then, so was his. He was glad. Like him, she was in her mid-fifties.