CHAPTER ONE: Seattle, present day
A blast of high-pitched noise jolts me out of a dark fitful sleep.
“Josie, honey.” My father’s voice muddles with the remnants of a strange dream, sweet voice and sour images. My stomach twists, I thought after saying goodbye to Mom today at the cemetery my nightmares would stop.
I try to force my eyes open, but they won’t obey. Everything around me propels forward like I’m on a roller coaster ride, but forgot to bring down the safety bar. I jostle and slip as I realize I’m lying on a cold metal bed. A car motor rumbles and growls beneath me. Come on, Josie! I will my eyes to open. With only a slit of vision, I see medical supplies and complicated machines that beep and blink. An ambulance?
A guy buzzes past, he plugs cords into monitors and tapes wires to my arms. He’s too focused on the work to notice that I am awake. Am I dying? I don’t feel like I’m dying. My thoughts are fuzzy, and my head hurts, but the rest of me feels fine, tired, but okay.
“Josie! Baby, you’re awake. She’s awake!” My father’s voice sounds raspy and weak. I look at him, but the bright lights that run down the center of the ceiling hurt my brain, so I close my eyes again.
The EMT pries an eyelid open and shines a penlight inside. “Yep. That’s good news,” he says in a calm, measured voice. “We’re about five minutes from the hospital, seven tops.”
As I watch amber streetlights buzz past the wet streets of Seattle through the back windows, Dad strokes my hair and whispers my name, over and over like a chant. “Josie. Josie.” It feels good and makes me wince at the same time. “You scared the hell out of me, kid.” He leans over and kisses me; a warm tear falls down on me.
The EMT doesn’t say a word, he nudges Dad aside and pushes a gloved finger into the epicenter of the pain, a spot above my eyebrow. White stars explode behind my eyes. What happened? I try to piece together how I got here to distract myself from the pain cleaving my skull in two.
Meet Grace, my favorite character from Four Rubbings
Age: Forty-something, but really, it’s none of your damn business
Occupation: Cemetery caretaker, Lakefront Cemetery, manages a small staff, handles day-to-day maintenance, schedules burials, preserves cemetery history and records
Personal: Widowed ten years ago
Family: All family is deceased except for an older brother who lives in New York City with his wife and twin daughters
Pets: None, unless you count ghost dogs
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Library Sciences
Hobbies: Gardening, reading, archiving records, crossword puzzles
Favorite Holiday: Memorial Day
Favorite Food: Anything home-cooked, I prefer homemade to restaurant fare
Least Favorite Food: Buffets, can’t stand waiting in line for mediocre food
Drives: Small, American-made truck.
Loves: The color red, putting on a pair of clean, white socks after a day of working in the grounds, reality tv and comfortable furniture
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