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2.47 East

April 27, 2014

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Allie took a deep breath as she walked through the doors of the hotel. Originally this vacation was booked as a getaway for herself and Weldon, but that…well, that was over now.

“This is for Mom,” she said to herself. “This is for Mom. This is for Mom.” She pushed her shoulders back and marched up to the hotel desk. “Two to check in for DiPotere,” she said.

“Welcome, Mrs. DiPotere,” said the manager.

“Miss.”

“Oh, excuse me,” the man behind the desk said, looking mortified. “Miss DiPotere. We have you booked into the romance suite for 7 days. Will you be needing the champagne now, or later?” He didn’t exactly wink, as he said it, but Allie could tell he wanted to.

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This was going to be harder than she thought.

“Actually, it will be my mother and I staying. We’ll be needing a suite with two double beds. No champagne.”

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The room was beautiful. Richly appointed with deep colors and a tranquil feel. It should have been perfect. But the pain in her mother’s eyes still lingered, and Allie knew this wasn’t going to be so easy as a simple getaway. There was no quick fix to this, and Allie realized how naive she and Phebe had been – to think they could just escape the pain of Joel’s death, that it somehow wouldn’t be able to follow them here.

Her mother eased her body down onto one of the beds. “I think I’ll just have a little nap,” she said. “That flight took a lot out of me.”

“OK, Mom,” said Allie. “You rest. I’ll leave you be and have a look around the hotel. There’s a lot to do right here, you know? Maybe we could get massages later.”

“Maybe,” said Bianca, as she drifted off to sleep.

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The resort was an impressive place. It had an on-site masseuse, comfy fireplace lounge, sauna, and a large swimming pool – which is where Allie began her tour. There were tourists like herself, of course, but also many locals…like Corbin Gray. Allie began by asking him about the long kimonos it seemed all the locals were wearing, and ended up talking late into the night.

When Allie finally returned to the hotel room, her mind was racing. She didn’t know what was happening. The gold of her engagement ring still gleamed in the light; she hadn’t had the heart to take it off yet. But here she was, this new plan forming in her mind. It was wrong, she knew, but time was not on her side. She found her mother wide awake, blindly staring at a TV show in the local language. Never mind the jet lag, Allie needed to move. And her mother needed to get out of this room.

“Hey Mom, let’s go check out one of the sights,” Allie said.

“Now?” said Bianca. “It’s 11 o’clock at night!”

“Come on, Mom. We came all the way here to see things. There’s a noodle place down the road that’s open all night. I’m starving.”

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The two women walked down the block toward their destination, both lost in thought. They found the noodle bar easily. It was located in one of the many zen gardens of the city, and the setting was beautiful, even at night. Bianca and Allie sat at the counter and each ordered a heaping bowl of noodles. They ate without talking, with only the sounds of slurping to fill the silence.

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When she was done eating, Bianca made her way to the zen garden and picked up a rake. As she worked the rake through the fine grains of white sand, she felt the tension in her shoulders begin to fade. It was a stress she did not know she was carrying, a tightness that had settled itself on her muscles since the moment Joel died. She felt large, hot tears drip down her face as she raked and raked, but it was not a sorrowful cry.

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It was a release.

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