The energetic man in the imposing white FedEx truck with green lettering left the envelope from her mother resting against the window next to her front door.  She was doing a marvelous job of ignoring the other envelope which had sat on her dinning room table for several days; papers ending her 20 years of marriage to Andrew Wonacotti.  Her mother was renowned marine biologist, Dr. Hillary Sands, who lived in San Luis Obispo California.  If ever there was a person who embraced the California life-style it was her and as she opened the front door to dazzling morning sunshine her thoughts went to her mother’s enduring spirit.  The dog snuck between her legs and bounded down the cement stairs heading for two large trees on the side of the driveway.  She slipped on a pair of favorite flip-flops and followed her knowing she was headed to the wading pool she had filled with water and toys.   She did admit to feel a bit of revenge because it had been Andrew’s insistence to buy the dog for hunting but it was Elizabeth whom the dog lay against in the early mornings and then on her feet at night when she was reading.

A familiar maroon car pulled into the driveway as she was getting her feet wet.  The dog wasted no time and jumped on Jen as she got out of the car.  She immediately followed suit with the dog’s favorite anthem; “Oh, your such a good pup-pup, good girl.”  Jen buried her head in the dog’s snout, scratching her brown ears and the two of them continued their love affair.

“How are you?”  Jen kissed her lightly on the cheek and gave her a hug.  Her sister was toned in a beautifully feminine way.

“The kids made it to California okay.  I’m relieved.”

“Come on, you don’t worry about flights anymore?”

“Yea, honey when you’re a mom it’s intrinsic.  I can’t help myself.”

“Mom will spoil them and they won’t want to leave; you know better.”

“Like I had a choice.  Mom wouldn’t speak to me if I didn’t let them come out each summer.”

“Stop sulking you should be glad.  Now get your things because you’re in dire need of a new outfit if we’re going out tonight.”

“Too old for dating, Jen.”

“Who said a damn thing about dating, we’re going out to have fun!  Remember when you  used to have f-u-n, Beth?”


Elizabeth’s head was pounding early the next morning as she smelled the aroma of bacon.  The night table was buzzing as she slammed her hand on the phone.

“Hello.”  Her voice was a murmur and unrecognizable.

“Elizabeth Ann is that you?”

“Hi Mom.”

“Whats wrong Elizabeth?”

“Jen and I went out last night.”

“Oh, sweetie. Should I call back?”

“No, NO.” She sat up and leaned against the board.

“Listen your sister makes the best hangover remedy, she’ll take care of you.  Goodness, the kids

have grown so much since last year.  They are so much fun.”

“I know.”  She reached for the bottle of water and knocked it promptly on the floor.” Shit.”

“They are having the time of their lives can’t get them out of the ocean.”  Dr. Sands spoke for another 3 minutes before Elizabeth could

get a word in edge wise.

“Oh, tell Jourd I sent his iPod.”

“He’s barely missing it.  Listen I remember a few of my hangover mornings so I’ll be brief.  The kids are

doing well I’ll have them talk to you later and no, I won’t mention their mom is hungover- but call me tonight when you’ve had time to check the package I sent. ”

“Okay mom, tell them I love them and Aunt Jen sends her love too!” She closed her eyes and put the pillow over her head.

“Hey, you have to eat this.  It’ll help I promise.”  Jen was sitting on the edge of her bed holding a plate.

“No hangover for your?”  Elizabeth tossed  the pillow.

Jen cocked her head.  “I didn’t have as many of those shots as you did.”  She took her hand.  “When was the last time you

had any booze anyway?’

Elizabeth nudged her as she made a face.

“Eat it and that’s an order.

“Where did you get the chili?”  Elizabeth said as she continued to devour it.

“Christ, I brought it with me-who cares?, it’s the secret ingredient.  I dated this guy who’s family had this hole-in-wall eatery and they knew

a thing or two about hangover cures.  Everyone who eats it claims it works.”  Jen had remained single and had worked

herself upward in the world of academics.  She was presently the President of a prestigious liberal arts college for women.  Unlike her

I had stopped being interested in education after high school.  A few hours later Elizabeth was feeling back to normal.

“You don’t have any idea what’s in this envelope do you?”  She said she watched her sister play a game on the Wii console.

“You know mom, always full of surprises.”

Inside the envelope were two small envelopes and several pages of text with a large brochure.  Elizabeth saw the words;

African Game Reserve in South Africa at the top of the page.  A handwritten letter was paper-clipped to everything.  The small envelopes

had an airline logo. Elizabeth eyed her sister suspiciously as she read the letter out loud;

Dearest Elizabeth;

All through your life you have taken a backseat to everyone else’s dreams and goals; its high time you find something that makes

you joyful.  I know you volunteer at the Human Society but I’ve enclosed an opportunity that is too good to miss.  A couple of

my colleagues have been here and its top drawer!  I’ve arranged for you to spend an extended time there.  Don’t worry about the

children, I have several options lined up to aid.  The most important thing is for you to you’ll need to bring a companion

your sister would be an excellent choice.  Your flight leaves in 3 days!

Love, Mom

“How long did you know?”

“Mom asked me at Christmas time and the impeding divorce just made everything fall into place because Andrew would

have never let you go.”

“He never told me what to do.”

“Do you miss him?”  Jen was panting as she put her hands on her knees.

“Sometimes, he wasn’t enjoyable to be around for the last 2 years. I don’t miss the anxiety to tell you the truth.”

“I’m sorry, Beth.  But this could be a game changer for you, besides you’ve always had the strength to move forward.

Who do you think I most wanted to be like when we were growing up?”

Me?  No way.”

“You were always unique and memorable.”  Jen sat down next to her and put her head on her shoulder.


“I’ve always told you the truth when I’ve bothered to tell you the truth!”

Elizabeth laughed and opened the envelope for the plane tickets.  “She didn’t?”

“Mom goes first class all the way.  Come on, we have work to do.  The clothes in your closet need to be sent to the Goodwill!”