Lightning shot through the black clouds moving in from the west. Seconds later, thunder boomed. Raindrops splattered against the window. Another flash of lightning and the lights blinked. She imagined the electricity going out in the middle of Iris's surgery and nurses holding lanterns while doctors strained to see. Chilled, she rubbed her arms and pushed the thoughts away. There must be emergency power. Mama had been right; she needed to curb her imagination. If only someone were waiting with her.
As if on cue, Myra McIntire puffed into the room, rain dripping from her tent-sized yellow poncho. "Ah, here you are," Myra said, shrugging out of her raingear and giving it a shake.
Crystal winced as water droplets pelted her face. She wiped them off with the back of her hand. "You were looking for me?"
Myra draped her poncho over a chair and lowered her bulk onto the couch beside Crystal. "I came as soon as Dr. Shields called."
"Oh, you're Iris's nurse. They just took her into surgery a little while ago. It will be hours before she's out."
"I know," Myra patted Crystal's hand. "But I thought about you here all alone, and I figured you could use some company."
Crystal edged away, slipping her hand out of Myra's dimpled grasp. Myra was right about her need for company; still, she was hurt by the assumption that she would be alone.
Myra studied her empty hand. "Iris is my best friend. Always has been. Always will be."
"I'm the only one she's seen in years," Crystal reminded Myra.
"That's her doing. Ever since she came back from visiting your mother's friend in Colorado, what was her name?" She scrunched up her face, then snapped her finger. "Lena Day. Well, after that she was a different person. But just because she changed doesn't mean I did. She's still my friend."
Myra's loyalty to the long ago friendship was touching, and Crystal, always curious about the time both Iris and her mother had refused to discuss, asked, "Were you two very close?"
"Like I said. Best friends. In high school, we got all our classes together. She was at my house all the time. Well, I came to your house, sometimes, but you can guess how that set with your mama. She didn't like me, but she never liked anyone much. Iris didn't care what she thought. All she and your mama did was fight. Then Iris would do whatever she wanted. "
Crystal closed her eyes. So much for Myra as a reliable source of information. Iris and Mama never fought. Mama issued commands, and Iris followed them, or not, as she pleased. But Myra's chatter was distracting, so Crystal decided to open her eyes and keep listening.
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