The stores were all closed, of course. The street quiet except for a couple of restaurants and one bar. The ocean is less than a mile away but unless she's at the end of the avenue Christine forgets it is even there.
Her mother always loved the ocean. They had spent summers at Virginia Beach, just the two of them, getting sunburned while building sand castles and playing in the waves. They stayed at The Blue Dolphin right on the water's edge. All Christine had to do was pull on her swimsuit and run into the water. Cheese sandwiches for lunch, with lemonade.
Her father never went along. He worked, in a suit and tie, and wing tips, looking very handsome in his grey suit with the blue shirt, blue pocket handkerchief, and the tie with a tiny orange stripe. They would send him postcards, every day, a picture of their motel, or of the dolphin that hung in space above the roofline, or just a card that said "Virginia Beach".
Monday morning, Christine's mother is scheduled for a Bronchoscopy at a medical center 2,000 miles away. "It's nothing," her mother had said. "I cough a lot so the doctor wants to take a look." She paused, waiting for Christine to get upset, which she did not. "It may sound bad but it's really nothing ugly, just unusual."
"Would you like me to come be with you?" Christine had asked her. "We'll work crossword puzzles while you recover."
"Don't be silly," she said. "The x-ray showed something that looked like a grain of sand."
"Have them send the x-ray," Christine said. "I won't interfere, it's just that I am a doctor as well as your daughter."
"You're just like your father," her mother said. "He always had to know everything that was going on. Look where all that got him, pushing up daisies."
"We have the most beautiful yellow roses this year," Christine replied. "We've had yellow ones before but they've never had a scent. I cut them with long stems and arranged them in a silver vase. They're opening very slowly, petal by petal, it's stunning."
"I wish I could see them," her mother said. "Maybe next year."
"I'll send you pictures," Christine said. "Who is caring for you after the procedure?"
"I'll be fine. It's really nothing. I don't need anyone fussing over me."
"I love you," Christine had said.
"I know," her mother said. "I have things to do. You probably do too."
"I'll call you...mom, are you there?"
No reply. The line was dead.
And that's the truth. To some extent.