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"What is this thing we're going to, anyway?"

"A function."

"That's not enough for me, James."

He smiled. He liked how she didn't just let things go. She had spirit. Just like Lindy.

"I don't know, exactly. But I think it has something to do with...Lindy."

Shelle understood the falter and asked no more. She returned to her room, cleaned herself up, and proceeded to dress for the "function."

James sighed at her retreat and tried to banish the thoughts of the forthcoming evening. All those people-"How are you, James?" "How do you feel over her death?" "Is there anything I can do?"-with all their pointed questions, knowing exactly how he felt but asking anyway. Shelle hadn't asked, that kid, he thought affectionately. She just came.

He left the plates stacked in the kitchen sink and returned to his (and Lindy's) room, ran water on his hands and slapped them on his face. It instantly woke him up. His body suddenly started a mad frenzy of getting ready-finding the suit, fixing shoes, finding that brush that was never where he put it, while his brain drifted into a lull and his thoughts were hard to define. They seemed shaded with a colour, somehow. A bluish-purple. That's how Shelle thinks, he recalled, she having told him of the way she saw things (in colour). A sudden clarity of mind (or maybe it was just the jolt of the hair-dryer) brought back something he'd said once: "I don't remember the Sixties at all really. It's all just a purple haze." He started to laugh and relaxed. He straightened his tie and went out into the living room to wait for Shelle.

Shelle, who took a while in making herself look nice when going "somewhere special," had actually finished before James and was washing the dishes in the kitchen with Lindy's white apron falling over her dress. She looked beautiful; the dress was two inches too long for her and fell to the floor despite some high-heels she'd managed to bring. He knew she had experimented with her hair because he heard her yelling in frustration when it didn't do what she wanted. Now it fell in unbroken reddish-brown waves on her bare shoulders. The train dragged on the floor slightly, as it was supposed to do, and the stars in her hair, eyes, and dress sparkled brightly in the afternoon light. She swished a cloth over the counters and quickly wiped the floor. Then she washed her hands and turned to him, whipping the apron off as she did so.

James had ordered a car to chauffeur them and now they went out to it, the driver sighing, James's black suit floating loosely on the air and Shelle's dress contrasting with the wild background of the farm.

As soon as they were a block from Baker Street, they could see getting to it was going to be hard. It seemed like millions of people were everywhere. The driver pulled in slowly, a couple people knocking on the window to say hi. They got out in front of the Banqueting Hall and James took Shelle on his arm. They went in amidst shouts from all the people everywhere and as soon as they got in the door, they found something strange. Outside, there was tumultuous uproar but inside, the place was elegant and refined and...silent. Shelle's eyes darted across the room and James gathered his courage to take another step, but everyone was watching.

And then they did the least expected thing. They burst into applause.

Shouts of, "How are you, James?" and "Hey, Sir James!" rang out. James quickly seated Shelle at a table and went up to the platform in the middle of the room. Happy cheers rang out, Shelle's amongst them.

"Won't you, Sir James?" asked the Cancer Association chairman, gesturing towards the podium.

"Good evening, everyone," James said, taking the mike. "I am honored to be here tonight. Though I don't know quite what I'm here for-"good-natured laughs-"but that's okay. I am sure that had I brought Lindy, she would have been pleased by the ovation my niece (cousin) and I have just received-"respectful softening of conversations and a few hankies came into view-"I think I'd better let Mr. Chairman speak now." He smiled and seated himself at Shelle's table (reserved for them), the room thundering with applause. Some people got up and talked and food was brought to the pair. They both had just a little and listened.

"And now, we would like to say that we have been moved by Sir James's request-" "Call me Mr.!" came a shout accompanied with laughter. "Mr. Mac," the chairman corrected himself, "lost his wife recently to breast cancer..."

Now, if that isn't twisting the sword, Shelle thought and put her hand on James's.

"...And asked for anyone willing to do something, donations to research breast cancer would be appreciated, along with 'going veggie' and donating to animal rights groups. Well, we are gathered here tonight because Mr. Smith of the New Guinea firm Smith 'n'Smith wanted to help make a tribute to the late Lady-Mrs. Lindy Mac."

Applause. A rotund man wobbled to the platform and seized the attention of everyone by saying straight off, "I always liked Mrs. Mac-may I call her Lindy, Mr. Mac? Thank you.-I saw some of her photographs before and I loved them. I ran into her a few times and she came across as a wonderful person who must have been a joy to be with. I was saddened by her untimely death and wanted to do something special. That is why my firm is giving twelve thousand dollars to breast cancer research."

James had to stand up again, but this time he brought Shelle with him, on his arm. Flashes blinked in their peripheral vision. They accepted the check from the man, who stammered as he shook James's hand, but was coolly indifferent to Shelle, who glared at him, check or not.

James made a warm, sincere speech and concluded:

"Lindy is here tonight with us all. I am sure she is very happy that this has happened. She never liked to see anyone or anything suffer without reason and this will help find a cure for those women around the world who are suffering as she suffered. God bless you all."

They stayed for a little while, Shelle bored at what she cited immediately as a "grown-up party," and sat at the table, occasionally seeing another kid, a boy her age, the only other at this whole affair, pass by her table a few times.

Every time he passed he looked at her. He was always shaking someone's hand and chatting as he studied her.

But Shelle didn't care. She was bored and determined to have a good time, she turned the whole thing into a game. She passed the boy with the air of a queen and started shaking hands and talking to people. She had fun and learned a lot of things about them and herself as she listened to them. The boy seemed to quicken his pace and had shaken a few more hands than she. He was almost done with the whole room! But Shelle shook hands and spoke to people more often than he did and made a face in his direction. They eventually ended up at her table, laughing at each other and shaking hands with one another and laughing again.

"My name's Andrew," the boy told her.

"I'm Shelle."

"Are you an American?"

The accent had given her away again. She answered, not angry but sarcastic:

"Are you British?"

He grinned and that broke the ice. They talked for a while and got on very well. He did not bother her with questions of who she was with, what was she doing here, was she really related to Sir James or anything. She, in turn, did not ask anything along those lines of him. They talked about life in general and ordered dessert and ate together. She had a good time and was surprised when a soft hand fell on her shoulder and she looked up into James's wonderful face. He didn't look tired, but it seemed that he had had a little fun and now he was bored. She got up and said her good-byes to Andrew, who unexpectedly kissed her. The next day she found an address scrawled on a napkin in her coat pocket.

She hugged him and hugged James too and they left, the crowds of people still yelling in the street.

© Lissa Michelle Supler

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