Part 3, chapter 48

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Vyola remembered precisely where she was that day. The exact spot where she was on her bed, the exact point where her leg was as it swung languidly downward, when her mother flung open the door. At that second, Vyola was cracking a piece of gum between her teeth, watching a rerun of Friends, snug in a comfy t-shirt and soft leggings. Her notebook was in front of her and she was writing lyrics, stuck on a rhyme for the word 'perpetual," tapping her pencil against her head. She was instantly horrified at her mother's crumpled, tear-stained face and knew something very, very bad had happened.

"What is it?" Vyola had asked, alarmed, and ran to her as her mother slumped to the floor.

Back then they lived in a single-family split level home in suburban Monroe Township, New Jersey. The block was lined with old trees forming a canopy over the street that on sunny days dappled the blacktop road with light. Vyola would fly over the patterns of black and white on her bike, coasting down the hill that led to her driveway. It was not unusual for the doors of their two-car garage to be closed when she got home in the afternoon from school. Although her father had been recently working from home more often than not, he was usually out, preferring to reserve a room at the local library than to use his home office. Katrina always parked the station wagon she drove at the curb so that she and Vyola could run back out as needed to Vyola's music lessons, practice sessions with her band, or shopping. The wagon was so long it barely fit into the garage, anyway, unless the garage was perfectly tidy, (which it never was). Her dad drove a Chevy with over 100,000 miles on it. He took the bus or train into the city to work and declared no need for a better car. Vyola would have a big fight ahead of her when she got her driving permit. The Chevy was an embarrassment and the station wagon, big as a boat, was impossible to parallel park.

Vyola had been up in her room for a couple of hours and had barely noticed that it was past their usual time for dinner. Katrina had been down in the kitchen with her music on loud. Thinking she had heard the bang of the old metal garage door slamming shut she opened the door that led in from the garage to the kitchen, anticipating her husband's imminent arrival. She hurried back to the stove to shut off a boiling pot and turn the oven low to keep the chicken warm in the oven. After a few minutes when her husband had not appeared, she made her way to the garage and the gruesome discovery that he had put a bullet through his head. The garage was dark and he was wearing his seat belt so Katrina did not realize what even had happened until she opened the car door.

So when Vyola answered the door and there stood Patience, her face contorted with excruciating sadness and pain like her mother's had been that day so long ago, Vyola almost knew what Patience was going to say before she said it, and her guilt stabbed at her like a knife.

"Vy, it's JJ. She tried to kill herself."

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