Author's Note:  I thought long and hard about this one.

Chapter 7:  The Past


	Al kept his pace deliberately slow, hoping that her plain headstone would
miraculously disappear and he would turn around to see her smiling at him.
Would she know him?  He would know her, he was sure of it.
	The memories of her flooded his mind.  His imperfect, little sister,
Trudy.  It was really Gertrude, because Momma had named her while Poppa was
out of town.  Poppa hated that name, so he called her Trudy.  Her devoted
brother called her =91Tooty'.  Everything had been perfect, except when Popp=
would leave for weeks at a time because of work.  But the pay was good and
Momma always looked forward to his return.
	Then Trudy's true mental condition was discovered and everything went
downhill.  Medical bills put Poppa at work more often than not.  Trudy was
endlessly teased by neighborhood kids, which got Al into more trouble than
anything else.  Momma left him and Trudy alone, once, for hours but Poppa
found her and brought her back.  They had a big fight and threw things.
They yelled at each other in Italian, English, and Russian.
	Several months later, she disappeared again, but this time, Poppa couldn't
find her.
	Al stopped short and closed his eyes, squashing the memories.  All of
them, the good and the bad.  He he opened them again and looked around,
making sure he hadn't passed it.
	He hadn't.  He looked down at the little arrangement of forget-me-nots he
was holding.
	Al remembered trying to teach her the different flowers.  She had liked
forget-me-nots the most because they were small.
	*Stop it!* he ordered himself.
	Finally, he arrived at his destination:
                  GERTRUDE CALAVICCI
             AUGUST 13, 1937 - NOVEMBER 2, 1953
	Al gently placed the arrangement in front of the headstone.
	"Happy Birthday, sweetheart."


	Maureen watched Al, unobserved.
	She saw him look at Trudy's headstone and tenderly place the flowers on
her grave.  Maureen saw his lips move, but was too far away to hear, or
even guess at, what he said.
	Al stood a full five minutes, staring at nothing, before abruptly turning
around and hurrying away.
	Maureen also saw an older woman watching Al.  Instincts told her that this
woman was watching him with more than just curiosity.
	If anyone had looked at either woman, that person would not have suspected
a thing (unless that person had come to visit the graves Maureen and the
stranger were posing behind).  Maureen sat sedately on a bench,
conveniently placed by the deceased's family.  The older woman had a floral
arrangement and wore black.
	*If that's Mariana, I'll just die*, Maureen thought.
	The older woman had hurried away before Maureen had the nerve to call out,
taking the floral arrangement with her.


	She could believe her eyes!
	He looked so much like Jack!
	She calculated and realized that he was twenty-six years old.
	*He must be in the service*, she noted, watching him. *I've seen that hair
cut on some soldiers at the bus depot.  I wonder if he's an officer.*
	Mariana longed to speak to him.  She knew better than to try.  He would be
too much like his father, and her for that matter.  The look on his face
broke her heart.  How he loved Trudy!
	She found herself wondering if he was married and had a family of his own.
 As far as she could see, he did not wear a wedding band.
	Did he have a girlfriend, at least? *Of course he does*, she thought
fondly. *A handsome, young man like him probably has plenty of admiring
young ladies to choose from*.
	The hurt little boy look disappeared and he abruptly turned away.
	*Oh, my son*, she thought sadly.
	She, too, hurried away.


	Maureen gritted her teeth.
	He was late.
	Al had avoided her all week.  He told her he was visiting, declined to
stay with her and her parents, and then conveniently forgot to tell them
where he was staying.  If he didn't want to see her, why had bothered
telling her he was coming in the first place?
	Last night, she finally heard from him and they made lunch plans for today
at one of his favorite restaurants.
	The ma=EEtre'd was leading Al to the table. *Finally!*
	Their waiter, magically, appeared.  Al rattled off something in Italian,
and the waiter disappeared just as quick.
	"You're late."
	"I know.  Sorry."
	"Well, what's new?  You tell me you're coming and then you avoid me all
	"Sorry," he said again.
	*Now what?*
	The silence was awkward.  Al's mind seemed to miles away and Maureen was
at a loss.
	"Are you seeing anyone?" Maureen asked, groping for a topic, *any* topic,
that would start a conversation.
	"Yes.  I started seeing someone, in June," he said, suddenly animated.
Apparently, she found a subject he was happy to talk about.  However, the
last thing a former lover wanted to hear was anything remotely connected to
the current one.  Maureen was beginning to wish she had kept her mouth shut.
	He was still talking about her.  "She's a nurse and her name's Beth.  I
plan to bring her here for Thanksgiving."
	Maureen had forgotten her parents' open invitation to spend any holiday or
shore leave with them.  They probably wouldn't mind the fact that he would
be bringing a woman with him.  Her parents liked him *a lot*.  Maureen, on
the other hand, was not thrilled with his plans to bring this Beth person.
	"I think she might be the one, Maureen."
	Maureen stared at him, her mind and body numb.  The expression on face and
the look in his eyes told her he was serious.
	Al finally noticed her expression because he was suddenly angry.  "It's
over between us, Maureen, so don't get any funny ideas," he told her in a
low tone.
	"I don't know what you're talking about," she snapped back, in the same=
	"Jealousy is written all over your face."
	Now she was angry.  "I'm leaving.  I didn't come here to listen to such
	Al shrugged.  "Fine.  See you in November."
	She marched off fuming, at herself.  She should have been more careful.
Al was no dummy.  They knew each other too well.
	She saw his love for that nurse in his eyes.  There was no =91might'
involved.  This Beth person owned his heart.
*"I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant*
*between me and the earth."  Genesis 9:13                                *