top of page




     Dad shook his head as he closed the door behind him, and he eased himself down onto the porch step beside me. It wasn’t an easy task. He wasn’t as young as he once was, and years of my mother’s cooking meant gravity was a formidable foe. 

     Snowflakes drifted down and I was shivering, so he wrapped an arm tightly around me and after a deep sigh, said “I don’t suppose it’s any surprise that you come from a very long line of volatile women.”

     “You must mean damaged,” I said bitterly, and he remained silent for a moment. There was no point to be argued, so we sat together and watched the snow drift down, making the sound only falling snow can make as it blanketed the yard and the dozens of cars parked all the way down the winding drive.
    “She gets it from her ma,” he finally said. “She has a temper and a mouth and it was all your ma ever knew. And when Nonna starts with the grappa…Dio mio.” He crossed himself and lifted his eyes to the heavens. “It’s over.”

     “Nonni Gigi isn’t much better,” I offered quietly, and Dad’s snort sounded like a hiccup.

     “Gigi is absolutely no better,” he agreed, and I wondered if he missed his mother. He never talked about her. “But at least she never learned English, so when she went off on a tirade in public, most people didn’t understand her.”

     “Too bad Mom knows English,” I sighed. “I understand every word from her mouth with perfect clarity.”

     “Maybe even some of the ones she doesn’t say,” he commented, and he swung his leg to knock the side of my knee with his. 

     Someone opened the door to peek outside, and a sonic boom erupted from the house. My enormous Italian family had been shocked into silence moments earlier–no small feat–when Mom lit into me for my second divorce. My mother clearly didn’t remember the bitter fights or how frighteningly thin I’d been when I’d begun to feel my marriage was dissolving.

     “He was the best thing that ever happened to you,” she’d railed at me, clearly not taking in the total disbelief written all over my face. She had to be drunk, because we were no longer talking about David. Now that I was divorcing my second husband, she wanted to throw me back into the arms of the first.

     Mom knew a few of the sordid details about the second split, but now that I was home and desperately poor while my divorce languished through a term of due process, she took every chance to remind me I was a failure. Two scrapped marriages with no children to show for either, and not a half-decent job to keep body and soul together.

     My life, the perpetual dumpster fire.

     All the heat had leaked from my body, and my teeth began to chatter despite the warmth emanating from the solid wall that was Dad. He was nearly as wide as he was tall, I realized not for the first time as he hoisted himself up with a wince. His knees were bothering him again, but he wasn’t about to lose weight or consult with a doctor about replacement surgery.

     I struggled to my feet after him and slapped the circulation back into my numb backside. I wasn’t eager to go back into the house, but I was losing feeling in my fingers and toes.

     My mother’s eyes glittered, unblinking, as I slipped back into the house behind Dad. She looked like a snake, tracking her prey with unmoving eyes, waiting to strike when the moment was right. She was biding her time in the kingdom of her kitchen, surveying her domain and holding court amongst the relatives while I hid in the hallway.

     Mom only allowed herself to drink with the family or on holidays, and since we were Italian there were a number of those observed in our household. 

     When my mother drank, the wine loosened her caustic tongue. It was already quite loose by most standards, but fueling it with alcohol made her mean. The little self control she may have had went right out the window and inside thoughts turned into real, spoken words that spilled in long, uncontrollable streams from her mouth. By the time she was three glasses in, family members could expect themselves to be treated to a frank assessment of their weight, haircut, outfit, or commentary regarding their poor life choices and the consequences they’d brought upon themselves. 

     As a result, the family at large had agreed years earlier to allow her to host only when the rest of the aunts were too desperately busy to handle duties themselves. She was on slightly better behavior when she was a guest.

     When I rolled into the driveway in my little Subaru the month before, Mom took one look at my packed-to-the-gills car and bit down on bitter, vitriolic opinions. She couldn’t understand why I’d felt unsafe in my own home, afraid of the man I’d married, and as we went through the divorce process he’d refused to move out. He had the means, since he maintained his small apartment in Manhattan, but he was impossibly stubborn.

     Mom called each of the aunts two days later, announcing that this year’s Feast of the Seven Fishes would take place at her home. She believed in providing plenty of warning, and she’d follow up weekly to make sure no one disappointed her by not showing up.

     “No, don’t bring anything,” I heard her tell each of my aunts. “I have Mia to help me prepare everything. She won’t have a job anyway. Dio sa quando...”

     I heard every word rattling through the quiet house, and I reminded myself that my mother had never been one to spare my feelings. I slipped back up the stairs toward my old bedroom, keeping to the edges of the carpet, careful not to disturb the fanned vacuum pattern in the hallway. There would be hell to pay if I did.

     Lucky for me, Zio Fortunato claimed he needed someone to run his little bakery in town and since I’d spent six summers running the place for him when I was a kid, I was a shoo-in. Honestly, I wasn’t sure he needed me there at all, but my mother had probably made a phone call and activated her famed guilt trip on her brother-in-law.

     Working at the bakery meant I was able to bring home stacks of cookies, cakes, pies and pastries, all carefully wrapped in paper, for the family feast. There was no sense in throwing things away that were only a day or two old, and I didn’t tell my mother I was bringing home the day old’s, or there’d have been hell to pay. Into the freezer they went–another abomination in her eyes–and when they came out no one would be the wiser. (Except for every member of my entire family. They could sniff out the age of a pastry with a single glance.)

     “You make these?” Angelo called from across the room as he scooped up another pignoli and dropped it into his mouth. I nodded and he kissed his fingertips in my direction before turning his attention to the brightly colored seven-layer cookies. Past experience had taught me he could polish off an entire tray by himself, something he’d perfected in our teenage years and if the way his shirt stretched across his stomach was any indication, I was pretty sure he’d maintained the practice for the past few decades.

     I’d called Angelo Mostro Biscotto, or Cookie Monster, since he was four and it seemed like he was in no hurry to relinquish the title to any of his four equally-capable sons.

     “We’ve been here for two generations and still we haven’t learned any manners.” Giulia’s voice was low in my left ear and I whirled quickly. I hadn’t realized she was standing behind me, because I hadn’t seen her come in. I threw my arms around her, the cousin who’d been closer than my own sisters for as long as I could remember. 

     “I haven’t seen you yet tonight. In fact, when did I last see you?”

     “I just got here–don’t tell Nancy, or I’ll get a lecture about being rude. And it’s been a really long time, I think. Maybe…” She screwed up her beautiful, fine-boned face for a second. “Wow, yeah…it was when you brought that scumbag home to introduce him to the family. I knew he was a useless sack of shit even then.” She smirked, because she was showing great restraint in her choice of words. She had a reputation for her ability to weave together curses that would make sailors wince, and in five different languages. She was beautiful and brilliant, with a quick and cutting sense of humor.

     “There are a few more colorful things we could call him,” she agreed, “but that one might be the most succinctly accurate. You know: boiling it down to just a handful of words. You never told me what happened, anyway.” She kept her voice low.

     “You don’t have the time and I’m not sure I have the inclination.” I shrugged lightly, hoping she would understand that I wasn’t ready to spill my guts. I was still processing the horrible details myself.

     “I can’t get anything out of the family,” she sighed, “which means you haven’t said a thing, because you know how well our family keeps secrets. Especially the scandalous ones–and ask me just how I came to learn that.”

     “Some of the details are just too…I haven’t really pieced things together yet. There were a lot of little things to begin with, and over time they added up and multiplied and little things I could overlook or ignore turned into big, scary, dangerous things. I didn’t assess the situation for what it was until it was far too late.”

     “Too late.” There was a deep furrow between Giulia’s eyebrows as she hitched one upward. “Too late, as in the bastard was beating you?”

     I sucked in a deep breath before pursing my lips. “That was at first. Eventually he learned to do the things that don’t leave marks.”

     “Oh, hell no.” Mia mashed her lips together in an angry grimace. The storm that passed over her face was frightening to behold. “He doesn’t do right by you in the end, you let me know. I know a couple guys.”

     Those couple guys were probably cousins of ours, and I couldn’t hide my grin. In families like ours, everyone “knew a guy” or two. They weren’t always cousins, but sometimes brothers or uncles. 

     I tried to envision David: small, trim, blond, Presbyterian, against tall, bulky, swarthy, Orthodox Angelo. David would try to win with words, knowing if things turned physical he would lose horribly. Choked out by Mostro Biscotto, and what an ignominious end. I let the laughter roll out as it played out in my mind’s eye, and I could feel the gorgon stare of my mother. 

     How dare I enjoy myself.

     “Jimmy!” someone hollered from the other side of the house, and I felt my chest tighten. There was only one Jimmy in the family these days: Dad. 

     Unless…oh, by all of the apostles…if Nancy invited him I would absolutely die and come back to haunt her. She would definitely do something like that on purpose.

     Suddenly Mom couldn’t meet my eyes, and her face broke into a wide grin as she maneuvered her small frame around, through, and under the cluster of family members clogging up the arteries of her gracious, beautiful home. She moved through the throng of noisy relatives, heading in the direction of the commotion coming from the den, where a door opened into the three-stall garage. 

     Jimmy had always used the garage door.

     “Mimi.” Warm lips rested on my ear and I startled again. When would these people stop sneaking up on me? “You look great.” James spun me and held my arms away from my sides, admiring me in the way he’d always done. “How do I keep getting older but you just stay young and beautiful?”

     I snorted and rolled my eyes. The man must have his beer goggles on, because I was working on a wicked case of crow’s feet and had packed on twenty pounds in the past year from stress eating. There were also wiry silver strands creeping into my dark hair, and I hadn’t had the time or the energy to magic them away with a box of color.

     Oh, never mind. That was why he hadn’t noticed: He was staring at my boobs. They’d always been one of my best features, but the added weight had padded my hips, butt and chest even more. 

     You were built like a taxi cab with all the doors open, ran through my head. One of the kinder things his mother had ever said about me.

     “You’ve been telling yourself some lies.” My voice came out a little harder than I’d meant it to sound. “I think you were the last person I expected to see tonight, James.”

     “No,” Giulia called from a few steps away, where she leaned against the wall, nibbling a pignoli and holding a glass of Pinot in her other hand. “That would have been David.”

     There was a strange expression on Jimmy’s face, and I realized he was still just as astonishingly handsome as he’d been in high school–more maybe, as age was adding a certain dignity to his features. Hopefully he wasn’t as dumb as he’d been in high school, I thought, self-consciously running a hand down my front to make sure I didn’t need to fasten another button. Jimmy’s gaze already threatened to burn a hole through my sweater.

     “Giulia.” Jimmy grinned, and he leaned back to reach a hand out toward her. It made her smile, and she stepped forward to give him a hug.

     “Long time no see, Meathead.” She smacked his cheek heartily, then swiftly wiped away the red lipstick she’d left behind. 

     None of my family had gotten over losing James.

     “Hey, not my fault someone moved to Italy for years and then was too big and fancy to move back to her hometown. Miss High and Mighty, living in your fancy Tribeca loft.”

     My eyebrows raised just slightly. How did James know any of that?

     “Jimmy!” Mom’s voice was falsely bright as she sailed down the hallway and wrapped her pink-and-white talons around his muscular upper arm. She was pulling him forcibly away, into the vast sea of hair gel, gold jewelry and barely-contained cleavage. “Tell me,” she cooed, “how is Little Jimmy these days?”

     There was a violent snort from behind me and I wondered if Giulia had a pine nut rattling around in her sinus. “Holy shit,” she giggled into a clenched fist, attempting to suppress her mirth. “Did Nancy just ask your ex about the state of his dick?”

     Leave it to Giulia. I grinned, remembering the days when Jimmy had indeed named his impressive body part that very thing.

     “No, sorry to say.” I clapped her on the back. “He has a kid now–Nathan. I’m surprised I know that and you don’t.” I raised my eyebrows at her significantly. “Your ma didn’t pass along that little tidbit? Angie Basso’s got him making child support payments that would make the Vatican treasury envious.”

     “You mean that tramp from high school? Like a year younger than us?” Giulia was incredulous.

     “The same. Hasn’t changed a bit since high school, either. Still sporting the big hair, big tits…still definitely a Mensa member.”

     “First I’m hearing about that,” Giulia snorted. “I always thought that girl was a little slow.”

     I grinned again. “Relax, I was being sarcastic. That girl couldn’t find her way out of the guys’ locker room with signage.”

     Giulia grinned. “A person has to be able to read to do that.”

     “Well, she figured out how to read something,” I responded, “because she managed to get herself knocked up by someone who had a little money.”

     Giulia rolled her gaze in James’s direction, where he stood in a thick haze of cashmere and Fracas as all the aunts fussed over him. “A little bit?” She snapped her eyes back to me. “You forget his family owns the largest fuel distribution service in the tri-state?”

     “They also own every lawyer in the northeast,” I reminded her, and she clucked her tongue.

     “Yeah, I didn’t forget that part. That was unfair–wasn’t like you had a whole lot to begin with.”

     “Lesson learned.” I made a fist and a knocking gesture against my skull. “I guess they thought I deserved it and to hear his mother tell it, I practically had a full-time job as a dominatrix. She was convinced I was a tramp since day one, and she walked in on us that one time…” My cheeks flamed red as I remembered the horrified look on the woman’s face when she walked into our bedroom to find me on my knees in front of my husband. “She taught both her boys that anything other than the missionary position is an affront to God.”

     “I’m pretty sure Jimmy had zero complaints about your sex life, and I can personally guarantee that Daniel knew about a hell of a lot more than the missionary position.” She grinned. “If Jimmy had complaints then, it doesn’t look like he’s holding a grudge these days.”

     It was well past midnight before the last guest left, and I helped to clean in silence, collecting wine glasses from table tops, the mantle pieces of both fireplaces, countertops, windowsills–there was even one on the back of the toilet in the half-bath. I wrinkled my nose when I found it, setting down the other glasses in my hands in order to give the bathroom a good fogging with Lysol.

     I could hear Nancy in the kitchen, dishes clattering as she stacked both dishwashers full of plates.

     There was the soft whzzzzz of plastic wrap sliding off the roll as she wrapped up leftovers to walk out to the fridge and freezer in the garage.

     The robot vacuum had already been emptied twice and it trundled through the house, bouncing noisily off millwork, sputtering and gagging on crumbs, dust and long hair. It ground to a halt and began beeping noisily–probably sucked up someone’s forgotten scarf, I thought as I set the glasses on the kitchen counter and wandered off in the direction of the beeping.

     Fishing the vacuum out from under the sofa and flipping it over to assess the situation, I was surprised to find a bright gold tangle around the small beater bar. I dug a finger into it and as it unwound, a harder object kicked back and nicked my nail. I picked at it carefully, trying to pull it past a snag without snapping any of the delicate links.

     “I’m not going to be the one to give it back to him,” I announced to my mother as I dropped the necklace on the kitchen counter. It had been one of mine once, a long, long time ago, all of my nicer jewelry given to my first husband as part of our divorce settlement.

     “It wouldn’t have killed you to spend a little time with him tonight.” Mom’s tone had been mellowed by several glasses of wine, but the criticism was still razor-sharp.     

     “Ma!” My hands curled into tight fists without consulting with my brain. “I did not ask you to invite my ex-husband to the family Christmas party!”

     “He may be your ex,” she sniffed, “but he’s always going to be a part of my family.” Her face was stubbornly set. Resolute. 

     “You will always love him more than me.” I couldn’t help but say it through clenched teeth. “Not once did you stand up for me, or defend your own daughter. I lost everything to his family.”

     “Yes, maybe you did,” she conceded as she rinsed out the sink. “But that was entirely due to some poor decisions made on your part. And now here we are, on the second verse of that very same song, about to watch you lose everything to David.”

     “I can’t believe you.” I turned quickly, needing to get away before I really let her have it, and I rushed up the stairs, desperate to throw furniture and slam doors. I wanted to throw my things into a suitcase and leave, but where would I go? I had nothing and no one and the feeling was one of helplessness, I thought as I closed the bedroom door with a great deal of restraint and sank onto the soft bed.

     The stack of photos on the bedside stand caught my eye and I sighed heavily. I had pictures of my home, where other, normal people had pictures of their kids. The house was practically my child. I’d spent all my time and energy making it the perfection it was today, and I slid the first photo to the back of the stack as I stared wistfully at the tile I’d painstakingly laid on the master bathroom floor. I’d set all the tiles in the shower pan, on the bathroom floor, the backsplash and all the way up the shower walls. Then I’d tiled the niche and designed a mosaic on the wall running alongside the beautiful cast iron tub, the one I’d found on Craigslist and hauled home to refinish in my backyard during the last warm days of summer a few years before.


     A picture of my kitchen and the acres of marble I’d found in a stone cutter’s discard pile, and the thick tiles of the backsplash. I’d collected those, a few boxes at a time, every time my favorite online retailer had a sale. The boxes had taken forever to arrive from Florence.


     The beautiful yard I’d spent countless months landscaping. Trip after trip to the nursery, up to my armpits in dirt and dust, sweat streaming into my eyes as I planted one bulb, one hedge, one tree after another.

     The property went from overgrown and neglected to a sweet little haven filled with boxwood, lilacs, Japanese maples, irises–anything I could get my hands on that was beautiful and made me happy.

     I landscaped quiet little hiding spots into the yard, hiding a bench in a ring of shrubs. Tucking chairs into alcoves created by plants and trees. Hanging a swing on the branch of a weeping willow with growth so long, the fronds reached the ground like the tentacles of an octopus, creating a beautiful cocoon of yellow-green leaves.

     David had certainly appreciated all those sweet little hiding spots, I thought with a flare of anger.

     I was exhausted. I dropped the photos back on the nightstand and turned over into my pillow. The day had been long and busy and the evening emotionally taxing, and I fell asleep in seconds, the lamp on, still completely dressed.




     Blowing out a huge puff of air, I set the cell phone down face-up on my desk. I’d converted the small space over my garage to function as a personal office while I built up my business, and I leaned over to switch on the space heater next to the desk. I’d been through worse, but now that I had access to creature comforts, my days in the military long over, I took advantage of them when I could.

     I’d just gotten a call from a buddy. We’d kept our conversation brief, relaying only the essentials. He’d been on the wrong end of an IED planted in an Afghani villager’s home and daily patrol quickly turned into a rescue mission. He’d been patched up in the field and flown to a base in Germany for additional medical care, since he required a number of surgeries, but the bigger problem was that he’d failed his mental evaluation. The Army had just effectively told him “Thanks, but no thanks,” that if he didn’t want to take a desk job they were cutting him loose with an honorable discharge. 

     Honorable or not, this sucked for Brandon. He had never known anything but the life of a soldier, and now he had no choice but to learn how to be a civilian.

     I made a couple phone calls on his behalf and scribbled his ETA on my calendar. Once he went through demobilization at the base, I would be there to pick him up and take him to my home, where he’d stay for a while to get his feet under him. 

     Brandon was a good guy. I’d brought him up myself, from the days he was a young soldier, giving him more and more responsibility, until it was time for me to call it, and he was appointed Commanding Officer in my place.

     We were the men of the First Brigade Combat Team, a new and improved special troops battalion operating out of Fort Drum. The 10th Mountain Division was a tough bunch of motherfuckers, and we lorded it over soldiers from other units as often as we got the chance. No one was as tough as us, surviving record snowfalls and twelve-mile runs in twenty-below weather even before we shipped out to our own personal hell. 

     The problem with living in hell was that more often than you wanted, you brought it home with you. It showed up in flashbacks and nightmares, hair-trigger responses and too-short emotional tethers. It was almost always a predictable outcome, too, for the guys who couldn’t deprogram: broken marriages, custody battles, drinking problems and often losing the battle with gainful employment.

     My problems? Well, those were pre-Afghanistan…mostly. I mean, it wasn’t like I was baking cupcakes and throwing tea parties in Kandahar. I saw shit there that would take me the rest of my life to unpack, but somehow that wasn’t the stuff that woke me at night. 

     No, what woke me at night was Naomi. Or her ghost. Wrapping her icy fingers around my subconscious mind and whispering to me that it was all my fault. And if I woke myself from the horrible dreams, it was because I was yelling and sweating.

     There were a few things I was going to need to tell Brandon before we were officially roomies. He didn’t know the details about Naomi, or that I still had nightmares.

     He also didn’t know that I’d been involved in a custody battle with my ex-wife for my kids. It had been going on for some time, and between trying to really get my business off the ground and making appearances in court, I was exhausted.

     Picking up the phone, I called another old buddy. Lincoln was a few years older than me and had taken me under his wing years earlier, during my first trip to Afghanistan, just after Naomi…

     “Got a buddy coming in,” I said when he picked up. He was a man of few words and would waste no time getting to the heart of the matter. Besides, he already knew it was me, the damn spook.

     “And?” His voice was as rough as my own. My excuse was shrapnel to the voicebox, but his was fire. He’d never told me the whole story–all I knew was that it happened before he joined the Army.

     “Might need to help him get settled in. Entire career with the First Brigade…good man. Hard worker, great leader, just a real decent guy. Hadn’t exactly planned on his Army career ending this way…” I let it trail off, and Lincoln knew what I meant.

     “Honorable discharge?” he asked, and I sighed.

     “Yeah, you know how that goes.”

     “Sure do.”

     “Don’t know what he wants to do when he gets out, because I don’t think he planned for any sort of ‘after.’ You got any ideas?”

     “Mmm, maybe.” Lincoln lapsed into silence for a long moment. “Got a buddy with the FBI looking to fill a spot in the city’s field office. If your guy has the necessary security clearances, he might be a shoo-in.”

     “It’s Brandon,” I said, and I heard a snort on the other end of the line. As far as Lincoln was concerned, that meant he was dying of hilarity.

     “The hell didn’t you say so?” he barked. “Boy’s guaranteed to make the spot.”

     The boy in question was well into his forties, but I figured making that point would only irritate Lincoln, a man with zero tolerance for irritation. Even less than me, and that was really saying something.

     “I’ll put in a good word,” he rasped. “He’ll still need to interview when he gets in, and it goes without saying the necessary checks and clearances will be in place.”

     I made a sound of assent. I knew this meant it was as good as done, and I sighed with relief, knowing I’d done a good friend a solid.

     “Thanks, man.”

     “No thanks necessary.” He actually chuckled. “I like this one. He’ll be good in the spot, and it won’t take much to convince Hendrickson.”

     I didn’t know Hendrickson well, but I was fairly certain the man was a political opportunist. I’d dealt with him in limited interactions in the past, and I wasn’t his biggest fan…but maybe that was just me.

     “Just need to see my friend settled,” I said, and I knew Lincoln understood. We had deep connections, and my connections to Brandon would translate to his connections with my friend.

     “Hear you, man,” he responded slowly. “I’ll do what I can–don’t think he’ll have a problem, though. Just let me know if I need to pull favors…”

     No favors would be necessary, because Brandon was amazing. I mean, I couldn’t tell that to anyone else, but the guy adapted quickly, easily, and fit into any situation. 

     Made me a little jealous.

     “Thanks, man,” was all I said. “Owe you one.”

     “Not even a thing,” Lincoln responded. “Thanks for letting me know. Hendrickson’ll shit himself when I tell him. Guy’s got a real hard-on for ex-military.” He paused for a second. “Hit me when you’re free for dinner and drinks. Gotta do some catchin’ up, my man.”

     He wasn’t wrong. I’d been neglecting my relationships with friends and family while I tried to get my life in order. 

     “Sure thing,” I responded. “I’ll give you a call when I get back from Tel Aviv.”

     He grunted. “Another transportation job for State?”

     I made a noncommittal noise in response, because Lincoln knew my biggest contract was with the State Department, providing security in a number of situations.

     After talking to Lincoln, I called Giulia. We had a history that went back a handful of years, and imagine my surprise when it turned out she wasn’t just a fancy-pants realtor. Apparently her day job, selling penthouses lining the park to folks with more money than sense wasn’t thrilling enough for her, and she was also running a nice little side gig as a State Department operative. I’d never asked how she got into her secondary line of work, but I’d coordinated with her several times already.

     “Good morning, darling,” she purred, and it made me smile. Giulia was the modern version of Sophia Loren, all legs and curves and long, dark, glossy hair. She was way too much for me to handle, so I didn’t even try.

     “Hey, G.” I leaned over to turn off the heater that had begun burning my legs. “You get the details for my next transport?”

     She made a sound that could have indicated irritation or disbelief. “Please, Katsaros. You know I was lining things up even before you got the phone call.”

     “Don’t put this one in your building,” I joked, and that definitely elicited a sound of irritation. We’d pulled off a particularly sensitive relocation just over a year earlier. It had been last-minute and dangerous, and Giulia had scrambled to find a suitably safe place to stash the little man we’d smuggled out of Colombia. He was of value to the government, for whatever reason, and it wasn’t our job to question the reasoning. The annoying little man had been tucked into the unit just below Giulia’s, in her secure Tribeca building, and he’d been making her life a living hell ever since.

     “The first chance I get to relocate that little shit,” she huffed. “I just have to get the paperwork signed–I’ve already got a location in mind.”

     I had a feeling the location she had in mind was at the bottom of the Hudson, but I kept that suspicion to myself.

     Getting off the phone with Giulia meant it was time to do the one thing I’d been putting off all morning: Contacting Gretchen about my schedule so we could arrange visits for the kids.

     To say Gretchen and I had a contentious relationship was glossing over it. As far as she was concerned, I needed to go overseas and never return.

     I sighed and logged into the program she and I used to communicate. It was something that had been suggested by our mediator, as a way to keep things as neutral as possible. Unfortunately, Gretchen’s way of keeping things neutral was to be passive-aggressive, and I knew it would be hours or days before she responded. Quite probably I’d already be in Tel Aviv.

     Sighing, I tossed my phone down on the desktop and leaned back in my chair, looking around. This…this was all I had to show for a lifetime of struggle. Something needed to give.



Copyright 2022, Erin FitzGerald

bottom of page