A Summer in Between

The packages came regularly while she was at college and this one was no different: a loaf of spelt bread, a wisp of wool from Lottie, their sheep. A sliver of shale with a vein of quartz running through it, and honey from the neighboring farm. She carried the empty box out to the garbage chute and was about to stuff it down when she saw the piece of card stock stuck to the inside of the box. She picked it up and read her father’s handwriting: Cassandra Paxton. Call her about a job. And then a local number.

She stared at the pointed and precise handwriting. It was an offering, as subtle and elusive as everything else her father did.

Kate didn’t wait long. She set a slice of the bread to toast and dialed the number. After three rings, a woman picked up the line.

“Cassandra speaking.”

The greeting startled Kate and she had a difficult time deciding what to say.

“Hello?” The voice had the strain of an older woman, of annoyance and alarm at the absence on the other end of the line.

“Hello,” Kate finally managed. “My name is Kate Bower. I was told to call you?”

“Who?”

“Who?” Kate asked back. “You. I was told to call you. I’m Clay Bower’s daughter.” She tried to sound secure, but she could feel the hollowness in her voice, as though something were emptying out of her, dragging her voice with it.

“Clay. Oh, Clay! Yes, he called recently. How nice it was to hear from him after so long. And yes, I mentioned I needed some help around the house and he said you were looking for work. Are you?”

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