You Can Hold A Moment In Your Hand

“Jean?”

“Mmm.” She didn’t look up from her dog-eared paperback.

“How long have we been here?”

“What? Oh, dunno. Two hours?”

“No, how long have we been on vacation?”

“We left the day after Bridget’s wedding. You wanted to—”

“Yes, yes, but how long ago was that?” He shook his head. “I don’t know what day it is anymore. Maybe a month? Have we been here a month?”

“Don’t be silly.”

“I think it’s been at least a month. Maybe more. No phones allowed, no internet. They were supposed to tell us when it was check-out day…”

“You’re being ridiculous, it hasn’t been a month.”

“You don’t think so?” He grabbed the novel from her. “How many times have you read this? How many? What’s on page—” He flipped the book open to a later page than she’d been on “—page 342?”

“Emmeline kisses Randall, and then runs up the stairs just as the train comes. He doesn’t know whether to follow because—”

“What about page 76?”

“…It’s a description of Randall’s garage, and then the car, the blue Packard he rebuilt with his father. Then—”

“Page 402?”

“Emmeline and… Peter, what are you on about? Honestly. Can I have my book back?”

He tossed it to her. “You’ve got it memorized. You’ve got the restaurant menu memorized. I know all the waiters’ names—”

“You know all the waitresses’ names.”

“Fine, but I know them all.  I know their boyfriends’ names, or their husbands’. I know their kids’ names. I know Mei doesn’t like pineapple, she just pretends to in front of the customers. I know Cora is a dance teacher on the side. I know all the porters, too. Jean, we were only supposed to be here five days, and then back. What’s going on?”

“Do you really want to go?”

“No, but—”

“Then leave it. Look at the sunset over the water, isn’t that beautiful? Now let me read my book.” It was a different book, suddenly, with a different girl with differently-colored flowing hair and a different man wearing a police uniform instead of a bomber jacket. She opened it to the first pristine page.

He felt a cold chill. “Jean, are we not supposed to go home? You can tell me. I won’t say anything.”

“Peter, drop it. I’m not getting back on that plane and neither are you.”

“Jean… did something happen with the plane?”

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