Red looked up from the stove. "What's wrong, True?"
"Light Auburn died a few days ago..." True said quietly. "The funeral's next week..."
Red turned off the burner, sliding the scrambled eggs onto plates, then brought them to the kitchen table where True was sitting. "Who's Light Auburn?" she asked when she sat down.
True rolled her eyes. "You know...model, kind of spacy, long red hair...was always in the bar with that boyfriend of hers?"
Red raised an eyebrow and dug into her eggs. "You've only been in town a month and you're already hanging out with models?"
"Two months, Red," True said primly before taking a bite. "And, besides, before I got my job at the center, I was, you know, hanging out at the bar, getting to know the vibes of the place, feeling out people. It's really amazing -- all the different auras people have -- everything from the deepest black to the lightest blue..." She waved her arms around. "This town is just...a hotbed of psychic activity."
Red shook her head in disbelief. "You really take this stuff seriously, don't you?" Before True could retort, Red waved her hand dismissively. "Does it say why the funeral is going to take place next week? Usually it's three days or so -- like with Dad, remember?"
"It doesn't say..." True sipped at her smoothie. "But her boyfriend was totally a dealer, so I bet she overdosed. They're probably still investigating..." She shook her head. "It's so sad...Aren't you sad?"
Red shook her head. "I don't know..." She gathered up the plates and took them to the sink. "Are you working today?"
"No, but Horizon is going to help me look for an apartment.."
"Horizon?" Red asked, turning on the tap.
"She's the head of the Women's Center. I don't really like her, but she used to be a real estate agent, so she knows what she's doing, and I really need to move out...so you and Blackie have some space, y'know?"
"Oh, you don't have to worry about that..." Red replied, smiling as she began washing the dishes. "There really isn't a 'me and Blackie' at the moment..."
"Oh no!" True said, standing up and running over to embrace Red. "It's not my fault, is it? Because I can move out and..."
"No, no, True, it's not your fault..." Red said, trying to free herself from True's arms. "I just..." She smiled ruefully. "I just finally realized that time doesn't heal all wounds, y'know?"
Blondie pulled an afghan off of the back of the couch and draped it over his mother's sleeping form. Goldie stirred in her sleep, and Blondie winced as the alcoholic fumes rose from her. He shook his head.
The phone rang suddenly. Goldie moaned and turned over, and Blondie reached for the handset quickly. "Hello?" he said softly, pulling the cord along with him into the other room.
"Blondie! Hi! How are you?" Spice said, her voice chipper.
"Well, Mom just passed out on my couch, but other than that.."
"Oh no..." Spice paused. "Is she okay?"
"Oh yeah...." Blondie said, falling back on his bed with a thump. "It's just vintage Goldie, nothing to worry about..." He paused. "So what's going on?"
"Guess who just called?!" she said eagerly. She didn't pause to let him guess. "Cola! He was calling from the airport in New York!"
"That's great!" Blondie shouted. He heard Goldie mumbling in the living room. "That's great," he said, quieter.
"Yeah! I was worried 'cause he didn't come home two days ago like he was scheduled to, but, apparently, they decided to stay up there for a little while extra. They got back together and the shoot was a total success. Our plans worked out beautifully!"
"Wonderful," Blondie said cheerfully. "I guess that leaves just one more thing."
"Yeah, I took care of it this afternoon." She paused. "I'm going to do it at Auburn's funeral, because I figure Misty will be there. I really don't want to take advantage of the situation like that, because, y'know, Auburn really was awfully nice, if a little out there, but it's just too good an opportunity to pass up, y'know?"
Blondie nodded. "Yeah, I know..." He glanced at his clock and swore quietly. "Look, I gotta go, or I'm gonna be late for work, okay?"
"Okay! Bye!" Spice hung up the phone. Blondie smiled, and got ready to go.
Rose peeked around a corner of the kitchen doorway, then stepped into the doorway hesitantly, watching her older sister. "Hey Copper?" she asked softly.
Copper jumped slightly, then turned to face her sister, smiling. "I didn't hear you come in, Rosie. What's going on?"
"Oh, nothing," Rose said sullenly as she unentwined herself from the doorway and slid into a chair at the kitchen table. "I was just bored...Mom and Dad are at some architect thing..." She ran her fingertips across the tabletop randomly. "Are you busy?"
Copper thought about this for awhile. "Um...no, not really. I mean, I'm doing something, but I could stop doing it without too much trouble, because it's just some recipes..." She put away her notebook, then sat across from Rose, looking at her sister expectantly.
"Oh, well, uh...." Rose paused. "I was wondering if I could ask you...a question...it's kinda personal..."
Copper nodded, frowning slightly.
"Well...when did you know that you...that you liked girls..." Rose took a deep breath. "I mean, when did you know that you were g--a lesbian?"
Copper blinked a few times. "Um...well..." She broke off and giggled. "You know, this isn't the type of question I thought I'd hear from you..."
"Well, I guess...I always knew I was different, I just didn't know how. I didn't date at all in high school...I was just so busy with the yearbook and choir and cooking club... Then I went to college, and I dated a little bit, 'cause people expected me to, but I wasn't really attracted to those boys... But then Reddish..."
"Yeah, she and I were roomies one year. See, she was in the gay and lesbian group because her brother was gay, and she took me to one of their meetings, and it was like..." She paused, searching for the words. "I don't know... It felt like a light switching on or something. Everything just fell into place. And then I met Ruby..." Copper blushed, looking down at her lap. "She just swept me off my feet."
Rose sighed dramatically.
Copper frowned. "Anyways, Rosie, why are you asking me all this? Are you doing a project for school, because you might want to ask Ruby then...she's had a lot more experience at this whole thing than I have...um...too much, if you ask me."
"No, no," Rose said, shaking her head. "It's...it's not for school..." She took a deep breath. "I think I...I..." She took another breath before whispering, "I think I might be gay..."
"Oh..." Copper said. "Oh, my...This is definitely, um, not what I ever thought...um..." She trailed off helplessly.
"Gee, thanks, Copper," Rose said sarcastically. She rested her forehead on the table. "It's not like I'm crazy about the idea myself..." she mumbled.
Copper's frown grew deeper. "Wait...um...does this have something to do with Cherry?"
Rose nodded, lifting her head slightly to look at Copper. "Yeah...we were..." She paused again. "We were kinda seeing each other, I guess. Not really really 'cause I wanted everything to be a secret, but she broke up with me because I wouldn't tell anyone and everyone found out and no one will talk to me and..." Her face crumpled. "I just don't know, Copper..." she said, burying her head in her arm and sobbing.
"Oh sweetie..." Copper said soothingly, moving towards her sister and stroking her back soothingly. "I know, honey...it's not easy..." She paused. "Have you talked to Mom about this yet?"
"No," Rose said, wiping her eyes and sniffling.
"You should...I know she'll understand...for obvious reasons..." She smiled softly. "Rose, why are you so miserable? Is it because you think you're gay or because of Cherry?"
Rose sniffled a bit more. "I don't know...Both. I really miss her..."
Copper opened her mouth, when the front door opened loudly. "Copper!" Spice shouted. "You home? I'm here to get the car...remember?"
Rose looked at Copper, her face suddenly fierce. "Don't say anything to Spice. Don't tell anyone. Okay?"
"Okay, Rosie..." Copper said quietly. "I promise I won't tell anyone..."
Venus set down her briefcase with a tired sigh, hitting the message button on her machine. She poured a glass of wine as the first message began to play.
"This is Doctor Tropic. I hope I have the right number. I'm attempting to reach Venus. I've been trying to contact you for several days, but I haven't been able to get through. I'm sorry I have to tell you this over the answering machine, but your sister, Auburn, recently passed away. We're currently holding the body here in Rosewood General, and we need you to contact us. The phone number is 543 555 1278. Thank you."
As the message clicked off, the only sound in the room was Venus's breathing. Then, suddenly, the wine glass fell out of her hand, shattering on the hard wood floor. "Auburn?" she said softly. "Oh no...oh god no..."