When Liz arrived home late in the afternoon, Sean proudly showed her his nine completed quilt blocks—including an outline of his hand, a ladybug, a rainbow, a king, a leprechaun, a leopard in a forest, two blocks with flowers, and a picture of her, with the word “Mom” written in the block in his childish scrawl. She was admiring his handiwork when her cell phone buzzed. It was Anna.
Liz picked up the phone. “Hi sweetie. You did a great job with Sean this morning. I love his blocks! He’s so excited about having his own quilt. Thanks again.
How’s the yogurt business?” she asked.
“It’s fine. Mom, another girl started working with me today at the shop that I knew from YMCA camp when we were kids. I was wondering if she could come over for the barbeque tonight. Her name is Audrey Martin. You might remember her. She called her mom who said it would be okay.”
“Oh yes, Abbey Martin’s daughter. Sure, honey. Dad always makes extra burgers. We’ll set an extra place at the table. See you later.”
Liz glanced at her Fitbit and realized that it was time for the family Zoom call with her mother, Emily. She booted up her laptop and gathered the family on the sofa around her, moving the screen so that her mother could see the children, Brian and Keller.
They spent over thirty minutes on the call with her—much of which was taken up with her and Sean exchanging knock-knock jokes. It was a thing between them. They were both aficionados of joke telling, especially knock-knock jokes. Emily loved to exchange jokes with all of her grandchildren.
The dinner table was abuzz with the usual chatter of the four O’Connell children. Liz noticed that Audrey hadn’t participated in the conversations and that Sean was trying to show her how grown up he was.
“Sean, why don’t you tell Audrey one of the new jokes that Grandma told you today?”
“Okay.” Sean thought a moment, and said, have you heard the one about the police?”
Audrey glanced down the table at Sean, and said, “No Sean, I don’t think so. Why don’t you tell me?” she asked.
“Who’s there?” asked Audrey.
“Police let us in. It’s raining out here!” Sean chortled.
They all laughed—more at Sean’s joke telling demeanor than at the joke.
Liz said, “Audrey, isn’t your mom an actress? Didn’t she have a starring role in that volleyball beach sitcom a while back?”
“Yes, Mrs. O’Connell. Mom is an actress. She is between parts right now, but is very busy with her various appearances, auditions, and meetings. Her publicist keeps her busy.
“As I recall, she was nominated for an Emmy for that television show. I’m sure that she can be much more choosy about her parts now. . . you have a brother, right?”
“Yes, Andy—my twin brother. He’s busy practicing or playing baseball after school almost every day, and he had an away game this afternoon. His coach says that he will probably be able to get a baseball scholarship to college– but he is a pretty good student too,” she added defensively.
“Where are you two in school now?”
“SMCC–St. Michael’s Cove Charter.”
“How long have you worked at the yogurt shop?”
Anna rolled her eyes and whispered to Audrey: “I should have warned you. My mom is a lawyer who cross examines all of my friends.”
“I heard that, Anna.” Liz smiled at Audrey. “I am just including our guest in our dinner conversation.”
“I’m sorry Audrey if I put you on the spot. We’re so happy that you could join us.”
The girls went to Anna’s room to talk after dinner. It was 8:30 when they came downstairs and Audrey was ready to go home. Anna wasn’t allowed to drive after dark, so Brian drove Audrey home and Anna came with them. The girls were talking about boys and giggling in the back seat when they pulled up to the Martin home. The O’Connells waited until Audrey was safely inside, and pulled away to head home.
After Brian left with Audrey and Anna, Liz made sure that Kevin and Sean were in bed before she retreated to her sewing center to start sewing Sean’s quilt squares together. She decided to sew them together with lattice strips—strips of fabric between the blocks. She chose a blue fabric with tiny gold stars from her stash of fabric. Rifling through her quilt stash of fabrics, she found the perfect border print of tools in primary colors and a baseball print for the back of the quilt. She resolved to set aside time after church the next day to layer the quilt.
Audrey found Andy in the kitchen eating a huge bowl of cereal when she came home. She had texted him that she was going to have dinner with the O’Connells, and related the events of her evening with them. For his part, Andy he gave her a play-by-play account of the baseball game zeroing in on his plays. SMCC won.
Audrey yawned and looked at her watch. It was almost 10 pm. Audrey said goodnight to her brother, and stopped by her mother’s room to turn off the television before heading upstairs. She sighed when she heard the TV blasting as she approached her mother’s room.
“Hi mom,” she said, turning off the TV. Her mother didn’t move, which was not unusual, since she was usually passed out by now.
Audrey went to her bedside to make sure she hadn’t fallen asleep with a glass in her hand or a cigarette. Nope. No obvious dangers that she could see. She touched her shoulder to say goodnight. Abbey didn’t move.
Then Audrey noticed that there was foam coming out of her mouth. Audrey hadn’t seen that before.
“Mom, are you ok? Mom! Mom! She shook Abbey’s shoulder. Wake up! Wake up!”
She ran to get Andy. “Something’s wrong with mom. There’s foam coming from her mouth and I can’t get her to wake up. Call 911.”