It took only a few minutes to unload the entire truck. When she was done, Sarah walked towards the small ranch house in the middle of the yard, and Penelope followed. They had just gotten inside when the phone started to ring. Penelope tried to eavesdrop while she looked around for something to put on her feet.
“No, it’s all right,” said Sarah. “I probably said some things last night that I shouldn’t have too.”
“So, do you want to meet for lunch and talk about it.”
“I could pick something up and bring it there to the gallery.”
“Yeah, I know the place. In about an hour then?”
When Sarah hung up, she went to take a shower, so Penelope had the run of the house, at least for the next few minutes. She found an old pair of tennis shoes that had a tear on the side and wouldn’t be missed, so she slipped them on. They were a size too large, but it was better than walking around barefoot.
The house was small but well kept. There was a noticeable lack of any decoration besides some smaller sculptures that Sarah had undoubtedly made herself. The only picture on the wall was that of Sarah and an older woman who, by the resemblance, was probably her mother.
When she got to the kitchen, her stomach reminded her that she hadn’t eaten in a long time, possibly days. She had been too freaked out by her resurrection to think about food, but now in the relative safety of Sarah’s house, her hunger had reasserted itself. Penelope went to the fridge and found it empty except for a half-dozen bottles of beer and a pizza box. She had never liked the taste of beer, but cold pizza was just the thing to hit the spot. There was only one piece left which made her feel a little guilty, but not enough to stop her from eating it. When it was gone, she poured herself a glass of water and drank it in one sip.
Sarah emerged wearing clean jeans and a t-shirt and still rubbing her hair dry with a towel. She picked up the phone and ordered some Chinese food for pick-up before disappearing back into the bedroom to dry her hair. Penelope figured that this was a good time to slip out and go wait in the truck. She had intruded on Sarah enough already.
She didn’t have to wait long this time. It was only a few minutes later that Sarah came out and started the truck. She had said she was going to meet her boyfriend at a gallery. Penelope knew all the galleries, and they were all downtown. In half-an-hour she would be within walking distance of Bobby’s and all her favorite haunts as well. She finally started to relax.
As they drove, Penelope took the time to take a closer look at Sarah. Despite her apparent strength, she looked like a normal, healthy woman, albeit with an athletic physique. On the surface, there was no hint of the kind of power she actually possessed. Her gift had not kept her from having a family, a career, and even a love life, and yet Penelope sensed that Sarah still led a mostly solitary life separated from others. Maybe that was because she needed to hide her strength, but Penelope would have traded places with her in an instant if she could.
After picking up the food, Sarah found a parking space on the street and started walking. Penelope followed her so she would know where to look for her later. She was anxious to find Bobby, but a few more minutes wouldn’t make any difference. She was pleased to see it was the Havers gallery. It was one of her favorites, so it wouldn’t be a problem if she had to wait around for Sarah to show up. She’d hate to have to schlep all the way back to that ranch house. She was also curious to see the boyfriend, and wondered if he knew about Sarah’s strength.
For Penelope, walking into the lobby felt like coming home. She was pleased to see that they were finally renovating the building. The interior had been starting to look a little run-down. Sarah weaved around stanchions and velvet rope that blocked the entrance to the main hall, so Penelope went in after her. The workers had taken off for lunch, but there was one man standing in front of a half-uncrated pillar of polished black stone. He seemed so captivated by it, he didn’t hear Sarah approach.
“Wow, that is impressive,” she said.
Startled out his of thoughts, the man turned to her and smiled. “I told you it was.”
She held up the bag of food and said, “I brought dumplings as a peace offering.”
“Yeah, about that,” he said. “It’s just that…I just wanted to say that I’m sorry. I knew this relationship wasn’t going to be easy from the start, but that’s no reason to put all the blame on you.”
“So what you’re saying is I’m difficult?”
“No, no,” he insisted. “I’m trying to apologize. I…dammit, I suck at this.”
Penelope was torn between her desire to respect Sarah and her boyfriend’s privacy and her need to learn more about them. In the end, it was the latter that prevailed. Sarah had implied that he was somehow special too. If that was true, Penelope had to learn all she could about them. She inched closer so she could hear all the details.
“What’s the matter?” she asked. “Maybe you’re just scared of a strong woman. You know I can’t help the way I am any more than you can.”
“Oh, I get it,” he said. “You’re teasing me. This is your way of getting back at me.”
“You better hope I am,” she said, “because you know I can bend you into a pretzel.”
“Hold that thought for one second. Excuse me, miss. This area is closed to the public. I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”
Feeling awkward at eavesdropping on their conversation, Penelope had been idly looking around the room, everywhere but directly at the arguing couple. She looked behind her to see if someone else had come into the hall, but there were only the three of them there. “I’m sorry,” she said. “Were you talking to me?”
To be continued…