Today's Reading

But she didn't, that was the problem. Not this time. "I've already told them I'm coming."

Her mother sighed. "It's not as if Becca will know or care if you're there." The rain thudded steadily onto the umbrella, the sky sobbing in sympathy, sending lazy drips down the back of Clare's coat.

"I'm not going for Becca. I'm Izzy's godmother. I want to be there for her."

"Those poor children. I can't bear to think about it. And Jack. Poor Jack."

Poor Jack.

Clare stared straight ahead. "What do I say?" She knew her mother wouldn't give her the answer she needed, because Clare hadn't asked the question she really wanted to ask.

"They'll find a way." Her mother was brisk. "Life never sends us more than we can cope with."

Clare turned to look at her, seeing lines and signs of age that hadn't been there before her father had died. "Do you honestly believe that?"

"No, but I always think it sounds good when people say it to me. It's reassuring."

Clare smiled for the first time in days. On impulse she hugged her mother, ignoring the damp coat and the relentless drip from the umbrella. "I love you, Mum."

"I love you, too." Her mother squeezed her shoulder, the same way she had when Clare was a child and facing something difficult. You've got this. "Is Todd going with you?"

"I don't want him to. He's still working on that big project." In fact Todd had insisted that he'd drop everything to go with her but she'd refused. This was something that would actually be easier alone. "I'll only be gone four days."

"Will you stay at the house?"

Clare shook her head. Jack had suggested that she stay with them in Brooklyn, but she'd refused. She'd told him she didn't want to make extra work, but the truth was she wasn't ready to see him yet. Jack, with his warm nature and quick smile. She remembered the first time Becca had mentioned him. I've met a man.

Becca had met plenty of men, so to begin with Clare had barely paid attention. She'd expected this relationship to be as short-lived as the others.

"He's a good man," Becca had said and they'd laughed because up until that point Becca had never been interested in good men. She liked them bad to the bone. She blamed her upbringing. Said that she wouldn't know what to do with a man who treated her well, but apparently with Jack she'd known.

Clare remembered the first time Becca had shown her round the house in Brooklyn. Look at me, all grown up—four bedrooms, three bathrooms and a closet for my shoes. I'm almost domesticated.

Almost.

There had been a twinkle in her eyes, that same twinkle that had helped her laugh her way out of trouble so many times at school.

Clare gripped the letter.

Attending the funeral wasn't going to be the hardest part. The hardest part would be pretending that nothing had changed between her and Becca. Kissing Jack on the cheek, keeping that unwanted nugget of knowledge tucked away inside her.

Her mother brushed raindrops from her coat. "Will the family come here next summer, do you think?"

"I don't know. Probably not." For the past twenty years their two families had spent three weeks together at Lake Lodge. Marriage, kids, life in general—none of it had interfered with that time. It was theirs. A sacred part of their friendship. A time to catch up on their lives.

And then there had been that conversation. One conversation that had changed everything.

And the letter, of course. Why a letter? Who even wrote letters in these days of email and instant messaging?

She'd found it in the mailbox, tucked in between a letter from the bank and an advert for a local pizza delivery service. She'd recognized the bold, loopy writing immediately. At school Becca had frustrated the teachers with her inability to conform. Her handwriting was like everything else she did—individual. Becca did things the way she wanted to do them.

Clare had carried that letter back to the house and set it down on the kitchen table. An hour had passed before she'd finally opened it, and now she wished she hadn't. Letters got lost in the mail, didn't they? But not this one.

She already knew what it was going to say, but somehow having it in writing made it worse.

She'd almost sworn when she'd read it, but she tried never to swear aloud. As she held the letter in her hand she could hear Becca's voice: Say fuck, Clare! Go on! If ever there was a time for you to vent, it's now.
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