Love and other catastrophes
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Seven: The lady vanishes

Once she was finally out of Boston, Joey could feel her tension easing and her spirits rising. She knew she was just running away from her problems, but it felt too good to be on the open road, snug in the car with the heater going, safe from the world outside. She lost herself in the freedom of it all, banishing guilty and depressing thoughts from her mind, and reveling in the idea that she was going home.

The closer she drew to Capeside, the better it felt. She started recognizing familiar sights, places she knew intimately from her childhood. It was strange that a place that had seemed so abhorrent to her growing up was now so appealing. Now it was a sanctuary, a place where she could actually gather her thoughts and take stock of her life. Joey laughed out loud when she passed the worn ‘Welcome to Capeside’ sign. She had never seen a more beautiful sight in her life.

When she pulled up outside Bessie’s house and tooted the horn, she waited impatiently as the curtains twitched and her sister saw who it was. With a scream, Bessie flew across the yard and embraced her soundly, squealing at her with surprise. It had been almost a year since Joey had seen her and they both were overcome for a moment.

"Joey, my God, what are you doing here?! You said you couldn’t come!" Bessie said breathlessly.

"I know, I know, but then I felt so guilty about not seeing you all for so long I had to come."

"Where’s Pacey? You haven’t got him stashed in the trunk, I hope." It had been Bessie’s joke when Joey and Pacey started dating that her sister would kill him one day, as she had threatened to do so many times when they were growing up.

"Oh, he still had to work, so I came by myself. He tried to get the time off but you know what it’s like at the hospital this time of year," Joey explained, without missing a beat. Bessie frowned slightly at her words but she seemed to believe them.

"That’s such a shame. We would've loved to have seen him, especially Alex. But I guess you’ll just have to do," Bessie said with a twinkle in her eye, wrapping her arm around Joey’s shoulder and taking one of her bags. "How long can you stay?"

"How long do you want me?"

"Very funny. Be careful, or I’ll steal you away from that school of yours in Boston and put you to work in the restaurant. You don’t know how hard it is to get good help these days."

Joey smiled as Bessie started indoors with her, but before they got far she pulled her sister into an impromptu hug. Bessie was surprised, but she returned the tight embrace.

"I’ve really missed you, Bess," Joey whispered, blinking back tears.

Bessie frowned and pulled away from her, placing her hands on either side of Joey’s face. "Are you all right, Kid?" she asked in a concerned voice.

Joey gave her the cheeriest smile she could. "Of course I am, I’m just happy to see you."

"Is that all?"

"Of course it is."

"Okay then," Bessie said with some reservation. They resumed their walk inside.

"So, where are Bodie and the rugrat?"

"Bodie’s at work and Alex is at school. The Christmas pageant is tonight so it’s final rehearsal time."

"And what are Mrs Bloomsfield and the fifth grade serving up this year?"

Bessie looked at her and tried not to laugh.

"A nativity play! " both she and Joey said together. Mrs Bloomsfield had been putting on a nativity play for the last twenty years at Capeside Elementary.

"Alex is playing a wise man and I’ve got to finish his costume or he’ll never forgive me. How are you with a needle, Jo?" Bessie opened the door from them and Joey stepped into her childhood home. She was immediately engulfed with memories.

"I think I’d pass an inspection by Mrs Bloomsfield."

"Good, help me with this turban and I can catch up on all your news."

Bessie smiled and took her bags into the other room, leaving Joey to contemplate her last words. ‘Well, nearly all of it,’ she thought to herself. There were some things she couldn’t share, even with her sister. Her mind drifted back to Pacey standing at the window but she immediately stopped herself from going there. By the time Bessie came back, Joey had plastered a smile on her face and sat down to tackle Alex’s costume.

* * *

Bessie sat up in bed that night after the concert. Bodie, exhausted from working at their restaurant all day, was already half asleep. He waited for her to switch the light out, but she just sat there against the head board, chewing her fingernails.

"Are you going to keep that up all night?" he said, his face buried in his pillow.

"What?" Bessie answered distractedly.

"Devouring body parts." He rolled over and looked at her. "What’s up, Bess?"

"I’m worried about Joey."

Bodie sighed and flopped back onto his pillow. "What is it now?"

"I don’t think she’s telling us everything. Something’s wrong."

"She seemed fine to me."

"Well she’s my sister and I know when something is bothering her."

"Did you ask her?"



"She said there was nothing wrong." Bessie rolled her eyes when Bodie snorted at her answer. "Well, of course she’s going to say that, she’s hiding something."

"And what, in your infinite wisdom, have you decided the problem is?"

"I think it’s got something to do with Pacey."


"Why is she here alone?"

"Pacey couldn’t get the time off. We both know that."

"So why did Joey come by herself? When I asked her how long she could stay she didn’t give me a straight answer. Why isn’t she spending Christmas with him in Boston?"

"Maybe she wanted to see her family," Bodie commented sarcastically. "Even her nosy sister."

"And why hasn’t she even tried to phone Pacey since she’s arrived? Last time she visited us alone that weekend, she phoned him five times a day."

"They’d only just started going out then."


"Thing’s change, Bessie."

"Exactly my point. Something must have happened."

Bodie groaned again and pulled the pillow over his head. He knew she would be up all night obsessing about this. Bessie didn’t even look at him, she just went on chewing her fingernails and worrying about her little sister.


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