Solomon walked down the street, looking around him; trying to find something familiar. The alleged graffiti he’d been doing on the wall when the levees broke was gone. Solomon guessed they’d painted over it when they were rebuilding the city. He stopped at the spot where he was reportedly arrested by the cop trying to recall anything he could about it. The place was not familiar at all – it was like he’d never been here before. He closed his eyes and tried to clear his mind but it made no difference. All he could see was waves. But he’d just come from the bayou trying to see if something else would occur to him. The first memory he’d gotten back had been of his grandfather teaching him to fish.
“Anything?” she asked from behind him. He turned around to look at his sister and shook his head.
“Okay then,” she sighed, “We’ll have to go back to our home.”
Solomon stared at her intently, “Are you sure about that? The place must have some painful memories for you.”
“Yes but that’s neither here nor there is it? We have to try.” Sophie said turning back to the car that was waiting at the end of the lane. Solomon followed her, a frown puckering his brow.
“Were you there? When our grandmother got left behind? I mean did you see it?” he asked holding his breath even as he did so. This could be forbidden territory for all he knew.
Sophie looked at him, her eyes far away. She was thinking about that time. She had been obsessed with Stephen Jensen a boy in her class who she’d had a crush on for the longest time. It didn’t help that he had never given her the time of day. He liked petite girls of a lighter hue than her, with longer straighter hair. She had been having a lovely daydream about him where he was begging her forgiveness for not seeing what an amazing human being she was. Another part of her brain was busy jeering at her and her daydreams and calling her pathetic for caring so much about a guy who couldn’t even see her. She had been lying on her bed fantasizing about it when she first heard the screaming. She’d ran to the window and seen the street full of people. The panic they were experiencing affected her and she ran out, looking for Nana Grison who came to sit with her grandmother and make sure she took her medicine. She found her downstairs staring out of the window with her mouth open. People were running and screaming.
“What do we do!?” she’d shouted.
“Run.” Nana Grison said. Sophie had hesitated but Nana had come up to her and pushed her out the door.
“Run”, she’d said again.
“But…grandma,” Sophie had said faintly.
“I’ll get her…go!” Nana had said and to her eternal shame, Sophie had gone. It was the last time she ever saw her Nana Grison or her grandmother, again. Her grandfather had found her three days later in one of the rescue centers. They had looked for Solomon then in every rescue center they knew of, and online as well.
“When did you know for sure that grandma was dead?” Solomon asked her.
“We went back to the house to see if there was anything that could be salvaged or if you had maybe gone back there…but there was only rubble.”
“So you never found out what happened to them?”
“Their bodies were found after the rubble was cleared…they didn’t make it out…alive,” Sophie told him avoiding his eyes so he couldn’t see the tears in hers. Solomon’s hand reached out and touched hers. They reached the car and Tony opened the door for them.
“Anything?” he asked.
“Not a thing,” Sophie said.
“That’s too bad,” Tony said closing the doors after them, “Where to now?”
“67 Bleaker Street,” Sophie told him.
“Right,” Tony said starting up the car.
Solomon’s phone went off and he picked it up, “Hallo,” he said. The person on the other end said something.
“Yeah I’m just fine, nothing to report,” Solomon said to them.
“Is that Katarina?” Sophie asked looking back at him from the front seat. He nodded his head and then put a finger to his lips so she’d shut up.
“I don’t know when we’ll be back. Sophie’s still giving me the tour of our greatest hits. We’re headed to our former house now I think.” He listened for a while.
“Tell Sam I miss him too, and I’ll bring him some new watercolors when I get back.”
“Okay bye then.” Solomon said and hung up to behold Sophie smiling at him.
“What?” he demanded.
“Oh you know, just…enjoying your whole lovey dovey thing that you’re doing with Katarina and Sam. Y’all are like family and all; ‘tell Sam I miss him too’…so sweet.”
“Shut up,” Solomon said.
Sophie laughed out loud and reached out to bop Solomon on the nose, “You’re so cute when you’re embarrassed,” she said.
“Leave the poor man alone Soph,” Tony said.
“Thank you Tony. That’s how you have your brother-in-law’s back,” Solomon said.
“Aww, you just winning over hearts and minds everywhere aren’t you my boy?” Sophie teased.
Solomon held up his middle finger to her and Sophie made a faux shocked gesture in return.
“Aww you guys are so sibling-like. Doesn’t matter if you can’t remember a thing Sol. I remember my brother and I were the same,” Tony said.
Solomon and Sophie looked at him, unsure of how to respond to that. Tony took his eyes off the road to glance at Sophie and saw the frozen look on her face.
“It’s alright you know. I’m…over it.”
“Over it as in…? You don’t blame yourself for their deaths anymore?”
“As in, I’ve forgiven myself.”
“That is great Tony. I’m happy for you.”
“I know you are,” Tony said smiling at her.
“Aww, look at you guys, so sweet,” Solomon mocked gently.
“Bite me Starship.”
They drew up at the site where the house used to be. There was nothing but grass and some abandoned pieces of wood and roofing material. New houses were going up around them but this location still belonged to them so it was relatively untouched, them not having been around to give permission.
“We moved in with grandma and grandpa after our parents died. We were ten and thirteen respectively when it happened. They tried to tell us it was only temporary. That Papa would recover from his injuries and take us back home. But then two years later, he died and Grandma was indisposed so Grandpa and us muddled through. Somehow we managed to live without going too crazy and then Katrina happened-“
“Sounds like a really bad dream when you say it like that.”
“Yes well, thinking about it now, I don’t even know how I got through it. I know you kind of retreated into yourself, lost in your graffiti and I kind of became a typical teenager lost in angst and self-absorption…hmm, when I say it like that it does kind of sound nightmarish.”
“But hey, here we are, three survivors marveling at the devastation of the battlefield and that we got away from it,” Solomon said.
“Surprisingly poetic,” Tony murmured in impressed tones.
“I’m an artist,” Solomon said using a high class British accent.
“La di dah,” Sophie replied in the same tones.
“Shall we go then?” Tony asked.
Quite suddenly Solomon convulsed, hands to his head. He fell to his knees clutching his head and groaning.
“Solomon! What is it?” Sophie screamed waddling toward him. Her hugely pregnant stomach made it ungainly to do so.
“It’s going to drown me…I’m drowning,” Solomon whispered, a look of terror on his face. His eyes were wild and he looked at Sophie without recognition.
“Sol! Starship! Look at me.” Sophie was shaking him trying to make him focus. Tony came up to her and pulled her aside and then he took hold of Solomon and slapped him across the face. Solomon snapped back startled and awareness came back into his light brown eyes. He stared into Tony’s blue ones in wild-eyed bemusement.
“Are you okay?” Tony asked with Sophie staring anxiously at Solomon over his shoulder.
“I…don’t know.” Solomon replied looking from one to the other. They helped him up and he sat on what remained of the stoop breathing in deeply like he was short of air.
“Wow, I don’t know where I was for a minute there. I had such a panic in my chest like…”
“I think you had a flashback.” Sophie whispered.
“I think I did too.” Solomon agreed.
“Let’s get out of here for now. We can come back tomorrow and continue this,” Tony said. The others being agreeable, they all adjourned to the car and drove back to the hotel. Tony asked for some tea to be brought up to their suite as well as some whiskey.
“For shock.” He told Solomon and Sophie as the latter raised her brows at him.
“Well I’m gonna have to pass on that remedy,” she said rubbing her distended stomach.
“Yeah that’s why I ordered tea for you,” Tony said taking her hand and swinging it as they walked to the elevator.
“I’m touched,” she replied with minimum enthusiasm.
“Don’t worry darlin’. You’ll give birth soon and then it’ll be maybe a year until you can drink alcohol again. Not really that long.” Tony said patting their linked hands with his other one.
“You’re all heart darlin’. I don’t know how I got so lucky.” Sophie replied snidely.
“The luck of the draw I guess.” Tony said smiling at her.
Solomon was uncharacteristically silent during this exchange. He would usually tease them about everything and it bothered Sophie that he was so quiet. She exchanged worried glances with her husband but neither of them said anything. No need to fuel fires when they didn’t know what the consequences would be. The elevator stopped at the top floor where their suite was and they had no sooner settled in than the tea and whiskey arrived. They drank in silence for a while and then Tony heaved a deep breath.
“Do you wanna like talk to Katarina or your grandfather maybe? Tell them about your flashback?” He asked Solomon.
“No I don’t think so. I mean…it was literally just a flash and more of a sensation than an actual memory. No need to regale them with every single detail.”
“Are you scared about what Katarina will think? I know you guys have been taking things really slowly because of your amnesia and stuff.” Sophie inquired putting up her feet and laying back on the soft sofa pillows.
Solomon exchanged glances with Tony and rolled his eyes, “Katarina knows I’m an amnesiac. Hearing I had a flashback isn’t likely to shock her much. Besides we’re more like friends than anything else.”
“You mean because you haven’t had sex yet?” Sophie asked
“I mean because we’re taking it slow.” Solomon snapped.
“You know, I really admire you guys. Your sister and I didn’t have as much self control,” Tony interjected.
“Yeah well Sophie never did like waiting for anyth-“ Solomon stopped talking with his mouth open. He frowned at Sophie asking for confirmation at the same time fearing it. Sophie sat up and put her feet on the ground, staring back at Solomon.
“You always did say that about me. Not that it’s true.” She said softly.
“So…another memory?” Tony asked.
“More like another sensation,” Solomon replied thoughtfully, “It seems like these things come to me when I’m paying the least attention.”
“Yeah, I’ve noticed that too.” Sophie agreed.
Tony poured out more whiskey and tea for them, “Well then, here’s to not paying attention.” He toasted them. They lifted their cups in silence and drank.
“Well. I’m off to wash this day off me. Coming Tony?” Sophie declared.
“Yes dear,” Tony replied with a huge grin on his face as he followed Sophie out of the living room into their room. He stopped at the doorway to their room and turned back to Solomon with a wink before closing it behind him. Solomon smiled and poured himself another drink.
Sophie took all her clothes off in front of the mirror. Her stomach was a source of endless fascination to her. The way it tended to undulate when the baby moved and it’s ever shifting shape and size never ceased to capture her interest…or Tony’s. He padded into the room behind her divesting himself of clothing as he came so that he was naked by the time he stopped behind her. He put his hands around her on her stomach, watching her over her shoulder in the mirror.
“Hey beautiful,” he murmured.
“Hey yourself,” she replied softly smiling beatifically at him. Tony ran his hand over her stomach gently. It was very sensitive and Sophie tended to shy away from people touching her there. Then he let go of her and headed for the bathroom.
“Let me draw you a bath.” He said as he stepped inside.
“Okay if you insist,” Sophie said taking her robe and putting it on. She followed her husband into the bath and sat on the edge of the tub as he filled it with hot water and bath salts.
“Can I just say that you are the most caring man I’ve ever met?” she told him.
“Don’t let Grandpa Elijah hear you say that.” Tony replied with a smile.
“The most caring man under fifty I’ve ever met.” Sophie clarified.
“Better,” Tony said still smiling. He felt the water temperature and then nodded to her, “It’s ready.”
Sophie stood up and divested herself of her robe in one fell swoop. Then she stepped into the bath and lay down with a sigh of contentment. She beckoned to Tony to join her but he just smiled.
“Remember what happened last time we tried to fit in a bath together?”
“We weren’t trying to fit in it; we were trying to make love. This time, I just want to lean against you while we’re surrounded by hot water and bubbles.”
“Okay then, we can do that.” Tony said getting in behind her and gathering her to lie on his chest between his legs. He lay back and sighed in contentment.
“This is the life,” he said.
“Isn’t it just?” Sophie agreed.
Tony slopped water onto her shoulders and rubbed them gently and then ran his hands down her arms to close on her wrists, gently massaging all the way.
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