Happy birthday, Molly. The cabin’s yours, but get out there right away. I’ve left Trouble with food for a day or two, that’s all.
Pack up on a moment’s notice? Drive three thousand miles in a tearing hurry to rescue a cat! No one but Saul would have the nerve to demand such a crazy favor. No one but Molly would be gullible enough to agree.
“A birthday present,” Saul had announced, his voice quick and persuasive on the telephone. Impossible to resist his enthusiasm as he rushed through instructions. “Get to the lawyer today and sign the papers. I’ve sent them express. Then pack.”
Molly remembered every one of the five times her father had marked her birthday with extravagant gifts. Gifts, growled Aunt Carla, instead of apologies for the other times when he had simply forgotten.
He had telephoned the day after her twenty-sixth birthday. From New York, he said rapidly, although the last she heard, he had been somewhere on Canada’s west coast, deep in preparation for his September showing in Paris.
Sitting in her Ottawa apartment, Molly had closed her greenish-blue eyes and listened to his voice, had felt pleasure sweep over her. She hadn’t been expecting a birthday call, certainly not a present. She had learned years ago that anticipation too often led to disappointment. She knew her father loved her, knew it was not realistic to expect a great artist to have everyday virtues. Enough that Aunt Carla and Uncle Gordon had invited her to dinner at their apartment in Toronto; that Thomas, the man she had been dating lately, had brought flowers.
Incredible that Saul should call, beyond belief that he should casually- over the telephone- tell her he was giving her a home, a place of her own. A dream.
It had taken Molly six days of driving, sleeping in rest areas and economy motels, to reach the Pacific Coast. Driving forever, it seemed, but finally the coast had come. Vancouver. The water. The ferry. Journey’s end. Soon.
Sitting in her gold van on the car deck of the ferry, Molly finger-combed her shoulder-length black curls and waited for the ramp to go down on Vancouver Island.
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