Part 1888 – A Random Memory While She Is Cleaning.

Clarice went into turbo cleaning mode as she waited for John to arrive. The house wasn’t really a mess, but she liked having something to do while she waited.

She vacuumed the carpet in the living room and her thoughts drifted into a random memory…


Clarice followed Master Dovritch to the training room. She tried several times to spark some sort of conversation with him. She failed with each attempt.

He either had a lot on his mind or he just wasn’t very communicative. She couldn’t figure out which. She gave up with a disappointed sigh.

I shouldn’t be this nervewrecked, but I can’t help it. She will want to know where Gerald is. What will I tell her? How can I answer her question without hurting her?

 Master Dovritch led her to a bamboo door and slid it open. He crossed the threshold.

She hesitated.

He looked back at her, but didn’t ask the obvious question.

“It’s going to be okay. I’ll tell her something reasonable, something…not entirely honest. She’ll understand.”  Clarice straightened her shoulders and entered the room.

A whole group of trainees stood at their stations, trying to punch the stuffings out of their punching dummies. They were all dressed the same — white loose fitting top, white loose fitting slacks, bare feet. Some were so very young. Some were teenagers. Some a middling in between. Black hair. Blond hair. Brown hair. Red hair. And every color in between.

It took Clarice a few minutes to find Elsie. She had her hair pulled back into a ponytail, but it found a way to frizz out in every which way. Some strands had escaped and were levitating like question marks above her head. She was no longer the small, uncertain seven year old. She had transformed into a lean, focused thirteen year old. Her punches were strong and certain.

Oh, Gerry. If only you were here. You would be so proud of her.

Master Dovritch cleared his throat. “Vansing.”

Elsie stopped and turned to face her master. Her face lit up when she saw Clarice. “Mom!” She ran to her mother and hugged her.

“Elsie.” Clarice returned her hug, but her mind was racing.

She’s going to ask.

She’s going to ask.

“Where’s Dad?”

Clarice’s heart fell to her ankles.

“Is he here? He’s here, right? He came this time, right? Mom?”

“I’m sorry, sweetie. He couldn’t…get away.”

Elsie’s happiness fell. “He isn’t here?”

“I’m sorry.”

Elsie clammed up and returned to her punching dummy.


“He never comes.” She punched the dummy as if she had a vendetta against it. “Not ever.”


Clarice shut off the vacuum cleaner and rubbed away her tears. “Oh, Gerry. Just once. All you had to do was…Just once and that would have been enough.”

The doorbell rang.

She quickly put the vacuum cleaner away and answered the door.

Her face lit up. “John.”

He smiled at her. “Clarice.”

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