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The Jacksons – for Nov. 19, 2009

Rose Jackson opened her eyes and stared briefly at the ceiling above her from her position on the couch in the living room of the Jackson home. After a moment, she turned her head lazily to look out of the picture window across the room. She found herself squinting against the sunlight outside and gave herself a moment to get used to the brightness. A crow rose from its perch in the old elm tree in the front yard and flapped its way across the yard to land in a tree next to the driveway. A blue jay screeched triumphantly from the elm. Further afield, a flock of geese headed south, just visible in the clear sky at the very top of the window, their noisy honking barely audible from inside the house. Rose considered for a moment the possibility of getting up to open one or two windows to let in some of the unseasonably mild air from outside. But that seemed like a lot of work.

She shifted slightly on the couch and was immediately aware of the insistent throbbing of her arm in its plaster cast. The pain was not nearly as bad as it had been for the first two weeks after the accident, but it was still quite persistent, and quite annoying. Rose heaved a resigned sigh. If it got worse she would take something to ease it, but for the time being she was determined to ride it out.

Looking out again, she was surprised to notice that there were still a few greenish leaves stubbornly clinging to the elm tree. That was probably a first, she thought, green leaves on the trees almost two weeks into November. And it’s interesting how one’s perspective changes depending on the season. When the weather was like this in June, she thought, we weren’t nearly as happy about it.

Rose glanced at the clock on the shelf above the television and noticed that it was an hour different than the clock on the VCR below the television. It must be in a different vertical time zone, she thought, although she knew perfectly well that the reason was simply that no one had reset the clock on the VCR when daylight savings ended, so the VCR showed 4:30 while the clock on the shelf showed the correct time which was 3:30. She would try to remember to get Andrew to fix that situation later when he came in. The other option would be to try to fix it herself, but she knew from experience that the result of that would be that the clock would blink 12:00 again, just as it had for the first few years they had owned it.

The time being 3:30 meant Jennifer would be home in 40 minutes and Rose had to admit she was looking forward to that. She also had to admit that she was finding lying around doing nothing a lot more appealing in theory than in fact. Again she pondered getting up, but again the effort seemed too much. She picked up the book that lay on the back of the couch where she had laid it earlier when she had found herself dozing off. Opening the book with her right hand she rested it on her cast and studied the page, trying to find the spot where she had left off, but by the time she found it she had lost her concentration. Not that it wasn’t a good book, she thought. In fact a good deal better than average. Even the title, Reading by Lightning, was intriguing and well devised, but at the moment not quite enough to waken Rose’s interest. Tomorrow she would try again.

She laid the book down and looked again at the clock. 3:34 it now said. Tuesday, November 10. Remembrance Day tomorrow, she realized. She thought about the veterans who would be honoured in ceremonies across the country, her father among them, although he had been gone now for many years. And because it was Remembrance Day, Jennifer would be home from school. So much I already owe those brave men and women, she thought, and now I owe them for that as well.

A flash of blue outside caught her eye and Rose looked over just in time to see the blue jay wing its way across the yard towards the tree that the crow was still sitting in. They’re like siblings, she thought. Whichever tree you’re in, that’s the one I want. She smiled. In 25 minutes Jennifer will be home, she thought. I’ll just close my eyes for a few minutes. Thirty seconds later, she was asleep.

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