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Return To Paradise Return To Paradise
By Kathryn H. Kidd

Price: $8.95
Edition: Trade Paperback
Pages: 206

Order by December 18, 2015 for Christmas Delivery

Chapter 1
Endings and Beginnings

I'll never forget the afternoon Alex drove out of my life forever. It was a sizzling, miserable day, just like the other ninety-nine sizzling, miserable days that make me so glad to live in Utah every summer. A dribble of sweat trickled down between my shoulder blades and made me itch in a place I couldn't reach to scratch. I flicked out my tongue and tasted the salt on my dry face. I was "watermelon hot" -- which meant there was enough salt on my face to season a slice of watermelon. I wouldn't keel over in a faint until I got "french fry hot," but that would happen soon enough unless I went indoors fast.

Alex tucked a box into the back seat of her car and slapped me on my rear end. "Are you going to finish loading the car, or are you going to stand there tasting your face?"

"Do I have a choice?" I asked.

"Such a kidder," she said. She straightened up and rubbed a sore spot in her back. "Look -- we're almost finished. Then I'll get in the car and ride off into the sunset."

"Ride off out of my life, you mean. Alex, you know you're not a letter-writer. If Ed McMahon gave you ten million dollars, you wouldn't even write him a thank you note."

"Ho-ho-ho!" she chuckled, in a deep voice that was more reminiscent of Santa Claus than Ed McMahon. Then she sobered. "I don't like Ed McMahon. I like you. You and I will be friends forever."

But we wouldn't. Alex was my best friend on the whole green earth, and she was the most compassionate woman I'd ever seen. But she wasn't a visionary person: She didn't keep people's faces in her mind or in her heart. Her friends were the people around her right now. As soon as she hadn't seen someone in a week, she forgot that person had ever existed. Even if that person was me.

She'd make the effort, I knew. She'd call me as soon as she got to Phoenix, and she might call again a week or two later. Then my face would fade from her mind, and by Christmas I'd get a Christmas card from her or I wouldn't. She'd have a new best friend in Phoenix, and I'd be exchanging Christmas presents with my gerbil and my cats.

I followed her back into the house. The movers had left this morning, taking all the priceless antiques and the artwork and the clocks. Only the boxes of clothes and jewelry and mementos that we'd been stuffing into the car had escaped the moving van.

I'd never see that furniture again, unless I visited Alex in Phoenix. As much as I hated Utah summers, I couldn't imagine going to Phoenix in this or any other lifetime. As far as I was concerned, Phoenix was farther away than Madagascar; I'd never visit there. But then, Alex wouldn't ask me to. She'd have other friends.

I sighed.

Then I was startled by a happy voice behind me. "Don't be sad, Amy. It's bad luck to get the blues on moving day."

Norma Jean "My-Daddy-Named-Me-After-Marilyn-Monroe" Forrest was the only person I've ever met who made up superstitions to fit every occasion. She peeked around the corner to grin at me, bouncing a headful of curls that had been dyed platinum blonde in honor of her namesake. The clock had stopped for Norma Jean the day Marilyn Monroe died in 1962, when Norma Jean was still wearing rompers. Just like her namesake she wore cherry red lipstick, and her ample bosoms had been shaped by her brassiere into the cones that women used to wear back in the fifties. She even talked in that breathy voice that supposedly drives men crazy, but that always made me want to pull a paper bag over her head to keep her from hyperventilating.

"It's a bad luck day anyway, Norma Jean," I said. "Alex is leaving. Remember?"

Norma Jean pouted, and I repented my snappishness. She couldn't help being cheerful on a day when I wanted to crawl under my refrigerator and die. She was just normally cheerful -- a real sweetie, even if she did have a fixation on a dead movie star. Furthermore, she was Alex's visiting teacher. That meant she had just as much right to be here as I did.

"Sorry about being grouchy," I said, and her frown relaxed into a cherry-red smile.

"No offense taken," she said. "But see -- I've unpacked some peanut butter sandwiches for our lunch. It's bad luck to say goodbye on an empty stomach. I've laid out a picnic cloth in the living room. Pull up your fanny and sit on the floor."

We gathered around the picnic lunch of peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches, potato chips, and orange soda. Health food. I hate peanut butter. As far as I'm concerned, just about the only advantage of being childless is that I don't have to keep peanut butter in my house. But Norma Jean didn't know that, so I pulled half a sandwich out of a baggie and pretended I was eating roast beef. Right. Roast beef, crunchy style.

"You're leaving just at the right time," Norma Jean told Alex brightly. "Here you are, driving off to start all over again with your husband, and we're sitting here in a ward that's about to split and fall apart."

"I haven't heard anything about the ward splitting," said Alex. She looked at me pointedly, but I ignored her as I watched the peanut butter squishing out onto my fingers. I knew all about the ward splitting. I'd known about it for months. Reynolds Cleese was the stake executive secretary, and I refereed his kids in church during the Sundays when he was off on stake business. He told me everything -- all the stuff that men aren't even supposed to tell their wives but usually do. A boundary realignment was right around the corner, but nobody was going to hear it from me.

"It's true," said Norma Jean breathily. "Horace tells me everything. Too many gentiles --" she said gentiles like it was a dirty word -- "are moving in around here. All the wards are getting smaller and smaller."

That part was true enough. Our Relief Society rolls had gone down by twenty-five women in the past seven months.

But Norma Jean wasn't finished. "And," she said dramatically, "I hear we're going to combine with the Old Mountain Home Ward."

"No!" said Alex.

"No!" I said.

Combining with the Old Mountain Home Ward would be somewhat equivalent to mixing household bleach with powdered cleanser. Boom! The church wasn't big enough to contain the explosion.

If there was one congregation in the entire world that was richer and more important than Paradise Vue, the Old Mountain Home Ward was it. And they never let us forget it. If we served Cornish game hens with apple stuffing at a ward dinner, they'd serve Cornish game hens with caviar apple stuffing at theirs. If one of our members got elected president of the Utah Bar Association, they didn't sleep until one of their members got elected president of the American Bar Association. And heaven help them if a member of Paradise Vue got put in a stake position that should have gone to somebody from Old Mountain Home!

The funny thing was, nobody in Paradise Vue was interested in the competition. The Old Mountain Home Ward did all the competing and all the one-upping. As far as I was concerned, the Old Mountain Home people weren't even members of the same church that took my tithing dollars. I'd roll into a ball and die if I ever had to be a member of that ward.

Except -- I wouldn't have to. Norma Jean's husband, Horace, was the ward executive secretary for Paradise Vue. He was privy to all sorts of secrets I didn't know and didn't even want to know, for that matter. But Reynolds Cleese was one level up the line. As executive secretary to the stake president, he probably carried a map of the proposed boundary changes in his Daytimer. And Reynolds had assured me that all the boundary changes would be going on south of Paradise Vue, not to the north. The Old Mountain Home Ward would maintain its pristine boundaries, unsullied by the unwashed heathen from Paradise Vue. It was the Paradise Vue congregation who would be getting an influx of people from poorer neighborhoods, and I couldn't wait for the change. As much as I loved the people in our ward, it was going to be healthy for them to see that not every good church member was a lawyer who lived in a fancy house, or thought it was déclassé to be seen in last year's BMW.

I didn't say that, though. This was Norma Jean's time to shine, and shine she did. She was delighted to know a bit of gossip that the ward Relief Society president hadn't even heard. She preened like a mallard duck, if mallards come in platinum blonde and have phony black beauty marks glued to their faces. It wouldn't cost me anything to keep my mouth shut, so for once that's what I did.

Alex listened to every word of Norma Jean's story, transfixed. When she finally swallowed her potato chip and breathed again, the first thing out of her mouth was, "Poor Amy."

I glared. "Poor Amy what?"

"Poor Amy who hates change -- that's what. First I leave, and now you'll be getting a new church job, and then you'll be getting a whole new ward. You might as well go whole hog and get a job downtown."

"Or," I said pointedly, "you can unpack your car right now and stay here. Then I won't have to lose you. And, if you don't leave you won't be released and I won't lose my church job either. I can handle one change, you know. Even I can do that."

Norma Jean gasped in horror. "But Amy -- she's going off to live with Ethan. You can't make her stay home for you."

"She was just kidding," said Alex.

"I was just kidding, Norma Jean," I said. But I was only half kidding, and Alex knew it. As much as I wanted to see Alex and Ethan reunited, I wanted them reunited right here in the Paradise Vue Ward. Not in the Phoenix Sunstroke Ward. Not in some desert that was hotter than hell's Jacuzzi. And certainly not in a place where I'd never see her again.

After we finished our sandwiches, Norma Jean cleaned up the picnic while Alex and I finished loading the car. Then I stood on the driveway as I watched Alex get in her car that one final time.

She hugged me first. That was hard, because I was already fighting tears. When we broke apart I smiled and looked at the grass, because if I looked at Alex I would have cried and if I'd gotten even a glance of Norma Jean's chipper demeanor I probably would have kicked her in the teeth.

"It's time to go," she said.

"So go," I said, and even though I knew I sounded like a three-year-old, I didn't apologize.

"You'll get over this," she said. She got in her car and turned the ignition key. "You'll find a thousand other friends just as good as I am."

"Sure I will." But I wasn't convinced. I've always had lots of casual friends, but true friends come along once in a lifetime . . . if you're lucky enough to have even one.

"We all love you," called Norma Jean, jumping up and down like a cheerleader to keep Alex's car in sight.

And then Alex was gone. Norma Jean and I looked at each other. She smiled and I sighed, and I know she said something cheerful and optimistic, but I just wasn't in the mood to hear it -- so I didn't. I waved a half-hearted goodbye and walked home. I put my feet on automatic pilot, and I don't even remember the trip.

I was met at the door by an army of hungry cats. I like cats, although one cat at a time is enough for me. By the time Alex moved to Phoenix I was up to three of them, however. One of the little old ladies across the street adopted a female kitten that somebody left in her garage. She named it Poopsie or Fluffy or one of those other kitty names, and I never gave it a second thought.

But then the kitten turned into a cat and the cat went into heat. When she did, her whole personality changed. From a normal, stay-at-home feline, this orange tabby turned into a wanderer. Sister Parrimore immediately changed the cat's name to Quo Vadis, which old movie buffs like myself knew meant Where are you going?

I knew from sad experience where Quo Vadis was going. Every time she went into heat, she vadised right over to my bedroom window, where she serenaded Samson, my own studly cat, until the cycle ended and she went back home again. The yowls drove me crazy, but Sister Parrimore only smiled when I complained. "What can I do about a cat in heat?" she asked benignly. And since there wasn't much she could do, I didn't mention it again.

After three cycles, I gave Quo Vadis what she wanted and let Samson out one night. Six kittens resulted from that little mistake. Sister Parrimore generously made me take only two. I named them Spay and Neuter. I didn't want Spay or Neuter, but I had created them. I owed them at least a life and a good college education.

Putting my thoughts of Alex aside, I fed Neuter and Samson, although Samson refused to eat in the same room with his offspring and had to be fed in the breakfast nook. Spay turned up his nose at the Fancy Feast, preferring the cheap dry stuff to the expensive canned liver I had served.

Normally I would have accommodated Spay, but I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to worry about a cat. I never have made friends easily. With Alex gone, I didn't know what I was going to do.

I didn't cry, but I sniffed once or twice. I settled into a living room chair and felt sorry for myself. Spay sniffed my bare toe and then bit it. She was still in the cute kitten stage, playful as all get-out. Or maybe she was just hungry. My toe looked just like a Vienna sausage, and it was probably far more nutritious.

I would have probably sniffed myself into a stupor, but the phone rang. It was Horace Forrest, Norma Jean's lucky husband. His voice was little and squeaky, which was out of place in a man who stood six-foot-six in his stockinged feet.

"Sister Hardisty? This is Horace Forrest, Bishop Nebeker's executive secretary in the Paradise Vue Ward." His voice went up on the Har of Hardisty, and it broke secretary clean in half. Unless Mickey Mouse had moved to Paradise Vue, Horace had no need to identify himself. But he always did, giving both names and his position and then the ward, so as not to confuse himself with whatever other Horace Forrests were executive secretaries to the Bishop Nebekers of other wards in our local calling area. "Do you have a free moment tonight? The bishop would like to visit with you up in his office."

Free? With Tim dead and Alex moved away, my whole life was free. As I paused, considering my calendar for the next hundred years, I could almost feel him holding his breath in the sheer anticipation of my answer. "I think I can fit him in," I said. And then I twisted the knife. "Do you know what it's about?"

Of course he knew what it was about. He scheduled the appointments, and then he sat over in the clerk's office as a chaperon whenever the bishop had interviews at the ward. He made meticulous lists telling the bishop exactly what to expect during every time slot. I knew that because I found one of the lists one day, where it had slipped out of his Daytimer and landed on the carpet in the back of the chapel. Every time Bishop Nebeker was due to sneeze, Horace had noted it in black and white.

But in the interest of confidentiality, Horace hemmed and hawed and said, "You'll have to let the bishop tell you that." I could feel the heat of his blush right over the telephone wires. I would have felt sorry about goading him, if I weren't already feeling sorrier for myself.

I arrived at the meetinghouse promptly at 9:30. The relentless sun had finally gone down, and the air had cooled down by a hefty one-point-six degrees. The unheated foyer was as hot as the cheese on a pizza, but a breeze escaped from the open door of the clerk's office.

I waved at Horace. He smiled, and his Adam's apple bobbed for a moment before he turned back to the ward's computer. Norma Jean thought he was Clark Gable and Mel Gibson, all rolled into one, but the rest of the world saw Ichabod Crane with a pocket protector. His neck rose out of his collar like the World Trade Center.

Bishop Nebeker was shorter and rounder, with chipmunk cheeks and a saintly disposition. His face was so loving and forgiving that he made me want to go right out and sin, just so he could reassure me that God still loved me after all. The man was born to be a bishop, much to the dismay of his long-suffering wife. He spent long hours in his office, offering counsel and love to anyone who needed it. Then he took his problems home with him and stewed about them, losing sleep over people who were slumbering peacefully in their beds. He ushered me into his office with a two-fisted handshake and a smile. When he said, "Hello, Amy," I knew I was the only person in the entire world he was thinking about at that very moment.

"I'll come right to the point," he said, after we'd chit-chatted about his newest baby and my newest cats. "I suppose you're pretty well aware that Alex left town today."

I grimaced. It wasn't exactly something I was likely to forget.

"Well, I guess you know we're going to have to change the Relief Society presidency."

I didn't have to call the Psychic Hotline for that piece of news, either. When one Relief Society president leaves, they don't exactly keep the office vacant in her memory. So I sat there expectantly, praying that whoever the new president was going to be, her name wouldn't be Amy.

"You might as well know," he said, "that I've called Bess Monson to be the new president." He had moved her up from education counselor; that obviously meant I was being moved up the line, too. I'd hoped for that, so I relaxed in my chair. I wouldn't mind a change of assignments; education counselor would be Retirement City compared to homemaking counselor. I'd be glad of the rest.

But just as I was opening my mouth to accept the new call, he dropped his bombshell.

"I thought you'd be ready for a change," he said. "We happen to have an opening that might interest you. How would you like to be ward newspaper editor?"

"Ward newspaper editor?" I didn't say it; I squeaked it. "I'll say there's an opening! We don't even have a ward newspaper. And the ward's going to split any minute, so there's no sense in starting one."

Bishop Nebeker smiled his little chipmunk smile. "I don't know the ward's going to split," he said. "We can't put the ward on hold on the basis of a rumor. In fact, that's one of the reasons I want a ward newspaper. A community that has a newspaper is a solid community. If people see a newspaper here in Paradise Vue, maybe they'll stop waiting for the ward to split and go back to business as usual."

"That makes sense," I said.

He leaned forward in his chair and gave me an earnest look. "Of course it makes sense. And you're just the person to be our editor."

"That doesn't make sense," I said. "Not this week. Not ever. I know my talents, and editing a ward newspaper isn't one of them."

His cherubic face melted into such a look of abject sorrow that I might just as well have run down Mother Teresa with a golf cart. Immediately I repented, but I didn't want to repent too much -- not enough that he'd think I wanted the job.

"Look," I said. "I'm not a writer. I can't even type! Half the time I type Hardisty with two r's, and it's my own name."

"That's why God created spell checkers," he said.

"I don't have a spell checker," I said. "To have a spell checker, you have to have a word processor. To have a word processor, you have to have a computer. I don't have a computer."

He smiled again, and the sun rose. "That's okay. You can use a typewriter."

"Not unless it types by itself, Bishop. When I told you I can't type, I wasn't blowing milk through my nose. I'll bring my old typing teacher right here to tell you in person. We were taking a speed test and I got all excited, and I knocked my typewriter upside-down on the floor. I totaled the typewriter, and Mr. Pierce totaled my grade. It kept me off the honor roll," I said pointedly, neglecting to mention that my grades in phys. ed. and algebra would have kept me off the honor roll if I hadn't flunked typing first.

But Bishop Nebeker didn't know he was had. "I have faith in you. You'll pick up typing in no time flat. And you can make your own choice about using a typewriter or a computer. Personally, I'd recommend a computer -- but you're the editor. I'll trust your judgment."

I actually smiled and nodded before I realized what he was saying. That sneak was just acting as though I'd accepted the calling, when I'd specifically told him no. "Let's back up here," I said. "I don't want to buy a typewriter or a computer. I don't want this job."

His eyebrows arched in surprise. He nodded in contemplation, and once again I relaxed back into my chair. Then he smiled. "I understand, Amy," he said. "You want to work with people. Well, I do have an opening for a Primary teacher. I'm sure you'd enjoy working in the nursery."

"What kind of computer do you recommend?" I asked.

He grinned, and for once he looked more devilish than beatific. "I knew you'd see it my way. Horace Forrest is the ward computer expert. He'll help you buy it, and he'll even set it up for you. I'd like to see a newspaper once a month, starting in July. You can have an assistant if you want one; usually it's easier to do it all yourself. Make it creative, Amy. Mention people's names and make them happy. You've got a talent for that. That's why I called you."

He shook my hand and stood, and the interview was over. I shuffled out of his office, semi-dazed. Horace Forrest had his nose buried in the ward computer when I walked past the clerk's office, but I didn't need to see his face to know that he was grinning. I'd been railroaded into being ward newspaper editor faster than you could say, "Ticket, please." As far as I could see it, there was only one possible consolation: At least I'd escaped the Primary nursery.

I was glad I had walked over to the church. As I strolled home under a drooping canopy of maple leaves, I thought about the calling I was leaving and the one that now had a choke hold on my neck. I hadn't wanted to be homemaking counselor, either. When I got sustained, I didn't know anything about homemaking. Evidently I was a slow learner, because I still didn't know anything about being a homemaker.

I had grown to love the calling, though. The women were as different as pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Each of them had her own rough edges. Each one had her own unique beauty. Joined together, they made a single complete picture that I had grown to cherish. And now I had to give them away to be cherished by someone else.

Why didn't Bess want me as her counselor? What had I done tomake myself unworthy of a place in her presidency? No, that was unfair. If I were supposed to be education counselor, that's the job I would have been given. I was supposed to be ward newspaper editor. For some reason I couldn't determine or some purpose I couldn't foresee, that was where I belonged. Even if the only purpose I served was to give something for God to laugh at when he looked down and wanted a little comic relief. Amy Hardisty -- on a computer? He was probably getting a big chuckle out of it already.

As I contemplated buying a computer, I recognized an emotion swelling up in me -- an emotion I hadn't felt for about ninety-seven years. Greed. But that's a long story. Maybe I'd better start at the beginning.

I was poor during college, living on chicken neck soup for dinner because I could buy chicken necks for five cents a pound at the local supermarket. On Saturdays I walked to the store and bought a pound of chicken necks and a stalk of celery. During weeks I was really feeling flush I'd also buy a box of saltines to go with the soup, but they cost twenty-five cents so they were a luxury.

Having spent my weekly food dollar, I'd take those chicken necks and that celery back to my apartment in Provo and make chicken neck soup. I seasoned it with lots of salt and pepper and garlic, because salt and pepper and garlic were the spices we already had on hand. That one pot of soup lasted me for a week.

Those chicken neck soup dinners were my big meals. I never ate breakfasts, and lunches were spartan. I used to go to the Cougareat and get a tiny paper container of bleu cheese salad dressing, because salad dressing was free. I'd sit across the table from my rich friends and their hamburgers, daintily dipping my finger in the paper container until the dressing was gone and my fingertip was wrinkled. That was lunch.

I was not alone in my poverty. I had friends who took hot water from the hot water dispenser and made tomato soup by stirring a little ketchup in. I didn't like that, but I did like bleu cheese dressing. So did a lot of other people, evidently. Every time I sat in the Cougareat, I saw one person, or maybe two, eating bleu cheese dressing -- or thousand island, or even Italian -- daintily sucking the liquid from their fingertips to keep them alive until dinner. So many people ate salad dressing for lunch that Cougareat officials, more alarmed at the loss of profit than they were by the poverty of the students, started charging money for salad dressing during my last semester at school. Ketchup was still free, but I chose to fast during the day instead of make soup out of ketchup. I had some pride, after all.

I didn't make a secret of my poverty. Everyone who knew me was well aware that I didn't have a penny to my name. Sometimes, in a fit of generosity, one of my friends would buy me a hamburger or an order of french fries so they wouldn't have to watch me dip my fingertips in bleu cheese dressing while they dined on Rack of Cow. To this day, I have a great fondness for french fries -- and they taste best with bleu cheese dressing on top.

But no matter how generous and loving my friends were, that generosity ended the moment one of them got engaged. And face it: All of them got engaged. In those days, few women made it out of BYU without a wedding ring and usually a baby or two.

The moment an engagement ring was slipped on her finger, the happy bride-to-be dived headlong into a black hole of self-absorption. She forgot that her friends were subsisting on ketchup sandwiches and were probably three weeks behind on the rent. All that mattered was how much loot she could get out of them.

Four times I was asked to be a bridesmaid. Four times I had to dip into my food money to buy a hideous bridesmaid dress because I didn't know how to say no. And only once -- just one time in all the scores of times I had a close girlfriend who got married -- did that girl take me aside and tell me she knew I couldn't afford a wedding present, but that my presence at the reception to share her happiness was all she wanted from me for a gift.

By the time I was graduated from BYU, I had learned an eternal truth: There's nothing on this earth that's more likely to fill the heart of a decent Christian woman with avarice than the prospect of her own wedding. Friend after friend had gotten married, and we were never close again after the marriage. I didn't care that they were married and I wasn't. What I did remember was the greed. I stewed about it, and I swore that when I got married (if I got married) I would never do to my single friends what my friends had done to me. I was above such petty sins as avarice.

Or so I thought.

Eventually the miracle happened. I met Tim in a singles' ward up in the Avenues. It wasn't love at first sight, but by the third date I was planning the marriage. I wasn't planning the wedding, though. I didn't want bridesmaids, and I didn't want showers. I especially didn't want the presents -- not when I knew most of my friends were counting pennies the way I'd done when I was a student at BYU.

I broke the news one night at Marie Callender's. "I don't want a wedding," I said.

Tim stuffed a piece of cornbread into his mouth. Crumbs congregated in the cleft of his chin. "Do you want to live in sin?"

"Of course not," I said. "I want to get married in the temple. I just don't want a wedding."

"You don't elope to the temple," he said.

"Why not?" I asked. So we did. We didn't tell a soul about it, except for his parents and two or three hand-picked friends. We didn't have a reception, either.

I thought that eloping would take care of the presents, but I was wrong. No sooner had we gotten married than a ZCMI truck pulled up at the house one day, filled with presents of every shape and description. The truck arrived the next day, too -- and the day after that. For more than a month, that truck came nearly every afternoon. ZCMI's deliveryman trained me like one of Pavlov's dogs. First I wondered if the truck would come. Then I wondered when the truck would come. Then I got disgusted when the truck was a half hour late.

Despite all my good intentions, avarice got a stranglehold on my sensibilities. By the time that truck stopped coming, I needed that truck. There wasn't a single present I would have picked out for myself, but I wanted them anyway. I wanted all of them. And I wanted all the rest of the presents in the truck, too -- even the ugly ones.

It took months after that last ZCMI delivery before I tamed the greed monster and put him back in his cage. I locked the door and welded it shut, and it would have stayed welded shut if I hadn't been called as ward newspaper editor.

But I was the new ward newspaper editor, and I couldn't do my job without a computer. If I needed a computer, I needed a printer -- and maybe a copier, too. Never mind that I'd never touched a computer, and that I'd never had the slightest interest in owning one. This was the Lord's work. And if the Lord called me as a ward newspaper editor, he evidently wanted me to have a computer in the house. And an office to put the computer in -- I couldn't just stick the computer on the dining room table.

I decided which guestroom would convert into an office, and I chose the color of the carpet as I lay in bed that night. It was going to need wallpaper -- something neutral and officy. And furniture. I couldn't just put the computer on the floor.

I lay awake in bed for hours before sleep overtook me, contemplating the task that lay ahead. I'm embarrassed to say that the actual ward newspaper never crossed my mind. I was far too busy buying equipment and doing the interior decorating and admiring my new office, even though it only existed in my dreams.

And as for Alex, I didn't give her another thought. When she drove off into the smog, I didn't think I could possibly survive without her. By the time I fell asleep, she had been banished to the Rolodex of my mind in favor of a green sculptured carpet and a laser printer.

Avarice is a terrible thing. I haven't gone to sleep with so much lust in my heart since the first time I saw Tim in a bathing suit.

Copyright © 1997 by Kathryn H. Kidd

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