From The Sky - Part VI

Rae paused, and said: "That's what we must pray for. It's the only chance for this to simply melt away. After a month, maybe two, they'll be back to fighting over bills, or payroll or a cake, and they'll forget this nonsense. Her memory will fade. She'll become a vague form at the edge of a mist, and one day she'll vanish into it all together."

Zia's footsteps, soft on the floor, tentative.

Her sisters turned and looked up at her. Zia's face was white, her eyes wide.

"Oh, someone's dead," Rae gasped. She and Sal stood quickly and walked to their sister.

"Aunt Carmella? Her heart, at last?" asked Sal.

Zia shook her head.

"Cousin Gino? The cancer?" asked Rae.

"No, no…" Zia replied.

"Who, then?" Rae and Sal asked, voices overlapping.

"No one. No one is dead. It was her."

"Her," said Sal, squinting a bit, then her eyes flew open wide. "Her! The woman!"

Zia nodded.

"What did she want, Zia?" asked Rae.

"She wants me to paint her. She's sending a car for me. I am going to her hotel. I will paint her there every night after work until I finish. She said she will pay just two hundred dollars if she doesn't like my work. And…"

Zia stopped and shook her head softly. Her knees were wobbling.

"What it is?" asked Sal.

"And…" Zia whispered, and stopped again. She trembled, and in their whole lives her sisters had never seen her do such a thing.

"Zia!" cried Rae.

Zia held up her hand, took a deep breath, and said: "She will pay me two hundred dollars if she doesn't like my work. Two hundred, like the hospital paid me for the founder's portrait. If she is pleased, she will pay me ten thousand dollars."

"Holy sh*t!" Sal shouted. It was the one and only time she was ever heard to let an expletive burst from her lips.

"Santo merda," whispered Rae, who could cuss with the best, but only did so in Italian. Rae's face paled and her jaw dropped.

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