Islands

I.


Abigail was in Jamaica with her menopausal friend Constance Brody, who, to Abigail’s annoyance, kept using that term to describe herself. Constance had offered the trip because she had money and didn’t want to spend two weeks on the island alone, and she had paid for everything but Abigail’s airfare. Tomorrow Abigail was flying to Memphis, back home, to marry Christopher Faulk, a former Episcopal priest who was sixteen years older than Abigail and only two years younger than Constance. Hence Constance’s references to herself as menopausal. Subtlety was not something at which she was very practiced. Indeed, she had a reputation for bluntness.

Despite her fairly ill-concealed antipathy to Abigail’s plans, they had been having a good time, sitting up late nights on the beach, drinking rum punch and talking about life in Washington, where they had both worked for Senator Norland of Mississippi. Abigail had discovered a side to her friend that pleased her—a kind of acceptance of the absurd that hadn’t been evident in Washington, where Constance was always worried about appearances and continually concerned in a motherly way about Abigail, both of whose parents had died in a cruise ship accident off Vancouver when she was less than a year old, their remains sepulchered somewhere off that coast. Abigail had been raised by her grandmother, Daisy.

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