excerpt/lines from the book Despite the Falling Snow, by Shamim Sarif. Published May 2004.
The doorbell rings again, a long, insistent ring this time and she hurries forward and throws it open. Estelle and Melissa stand on the doorstep.
“You know, patience is a great virtue,” she says to Melissa.
“So they say, if you’re sure that what you’re waiting for is going to show up.”
“I was on my way to the door.” She stands aside to let them in.
“But I didn’t know that for sure. It’s a big house. You might not have heard the bell. We could have been waiting here forever.”
Lauren rubs her forehead.
“Am I giving you a headache?” Melissa smiles.
“Yes. And don’t try and alleviate your guilt with a lousy aspirin either. I’ll expect a shoulder massage.”
“If that’s what you want.”
Estelle takes in this exchange with some surprise. Melissa’s reply, the directness of it has seemed to cause Lauren to flush.
She is reading a memoir about Africa when the telephone rings. She is still surrounded by dunes and desert as she answers, so it takes her a moment to realise that it is Melissa, but when she does recognize the voice, the book drops and she sits up. After the standard pleasantries, she offers to call Alexander to the phone, but Melissa refuses.
“I’m calling for you, actually.”
“I’ve been given two front-row seats to the ballet. For tonight. And I wondered if you’d be interested to join me. It’s The Nutcracker.”
“I’d love to.” Lauren feels the confusion in her mind spreading again…
“In the kitchen, I think.”
“She’s not home,” she tells him, a reminder. He frowns, remembers.
“She’s at the movies. She’ll be back by eight, she said.”
“Did you ask her what she’s seeing?”
“Doctor Zhivago,”. “She’s in a Russian phase, you know. She’s set on going over there next week. Lauren asked her.”
“My mother’s scoring better than me.”
He grins. He loves the utter dryness of her wit, the complete unexpectedness with which it darts from her serious face.
“Why don’t you go to Russia?” he asks. “Very interesting place, you know.”
A pause. “You like this girl?”
Melissa gives a short laugh. “What makes you ask?”
“Oh, I pick things up. Your mother and I discuss you quite a bit, you know.”
She looks at him, a little amused but mostly irritated. “What?” she asks.
“Try,” he says, turning back around in his chair. “Try, and see what happens.”