nearby honeysuckle touching the tips of the fence was companionship enough.
Joy had finished school and trained for her Real Estate license. She found contentment in other peopleâs happiness and wanted their houses to be perfect just the way sheâd always imagined hers would be somedayâher home with Georgey Pfeifer, as her husband a long-abandoned dream. Theyâd lost touch after high school graduation when he went off to college in California. She tried to find him once, but there were 127 Pfeifers in the San Diego phonebook.
One time, she even had a couple named âPfeiferâ tour an old Victorian with her and she inquired if they might be distant cousins. They werenât. They didnât purchase the house either.
But weekends were another story. Even though her mother was just in the next room, she felt alone. Oreos were now only a distant memory of comfort. Joy had begun spending time at the gym but she wanted to do something more meaningful. She wanted to volunteer. Which is how she found herself working as a paramedicâs assistant on Sundays after a few night courses at the local community college. And how she found herself falling in love with Scotty, the police officer who she met at a traffic accident, and the man who taught her to spin her sorrow into happiness by saving lives.
She could remember exactly the moment love took over every vein in her body, the first time sheâd felt a warm security, the first time she felt any sexual sensation. When Scotty began moving his arms to maneuver the traffic out of the ambulanceâs way, he saw Joy staring at him and unleashed a giant smile.
And thatâs how it all began. Love at first sightâ¦ just like in the movies.
One Saturday soon after, as Alice was sitting on the back deck, sipping iced tea, slicing up that beefsteak tomato, a shadow cast itself over her and her life.
âJoy? Youâre home early.â
âMom, hi, we need to talk,â said Joy, her eyes darting to the kitchen door where Scotty stood shifting from his left foot to his right. She signaled for him to come out. He had gone from calm, quiet police officer to a bumbling bag of nerves. Practically crashingthrough the screen, he tripped over a rake Alice had resting on the banister and knocked over her glass of iced tea.
âOh, Iâm so sorry, Alice,â said Scotty, instantly falling to his knees gathering up the ice cubes sliding through the slats of the deck floor.
âItâs only ice,â said Alice. âLawn could use some watering. Come now, leave it.â But he was determined to put all the ice cubes back in the glass, slippery in his fingers and covered with white sand particles. Alice wondered how this man could actually be a police officer. It was only a matter of time before he forgot to put the safety on his gun and shot himself in the thigh. But she tried to contain a laugh at the thought of it. âYou were saying, Joyâ¦â said Alice.
âOh mom, Scotty and I, well, weâve been dating for a while now andâ¦â
âWhat sheâs trying to say, Alice, is that Iâve asked your daughter to marry me,â said Scotty, smiling up proudly and reaching up to hand Alice the glass now full of ice cubes, sand and several blades of grass. He remained on his knees, which was kind of an odd sight. âAnd, since Joyâs fatherâs not here, I figured I didnât have to ask your permission first.â Alice motioned for him to rise. He stood up. âSo Iâ¦â
âOh my, thatâs wonderful news,â said Alice staring down at the empty glass. And then feeling as she should do something, Alice leapt from her chair to pull them in for a hug. âCongratulations!â
There was a strange crack in her voice. She was reminded of the day she told her own parents that she too was to marry a cop. âYour father would have been proud, honey. A police officer, just like