Since their sister's passing, neither Ingrid nor Heidi had visited Birgit’s apartment, which they jointly inherited. “Neither Heidi nor I want to own the apartment,” Ingrid explained to Hopper, “and we just can’t bring ourselves to go there.” However, before the sisters allowed a broker to inspect the residence, they asked Hopper to look it over and stay the night while he was in New York. “You want me to find the porn stash and hide it before anyone finds it?” he asked them over a Zoom.
“Do all the other writers live in Elaine’s?” he asked. “No, Hopper, but you will always find the important writers at Elaine’s,” she said. “Elaine understands us in ways that even your father can’t. She understands that writing is the hardest thing in the world.”
“Yes, it is,” Olympia barked. “That’s why I am glad that Silver called me on it. We had quite a fight about the journals. She called me on what she described as my “avarice and ambition.” She was right. I gotta give the girl props for keeping her agency.”
At Huey’s memorial service, Hopper’s eulogy recalled the words from their conversation about 432 Park Avenue. “The world – and the Indiana State Police -- can try to change the rules of math and claim that 2+2 does not equal four,” Hopper said, “but Huey would be quick to point out that any builder who thinks otherwise will see their creations crash to the ground. Just like that condo in Florida.”
Mayor Andrew Yang had expressed concern about so many people traveling to the city from states where vaccination levels remained low. “I want them coming to New York to spread their cash around, not COVID-19,” he said. “Our city’s positivity rate remains one of the lowest in the country, but we have thousands of tourists arriving every day from places where too many people believe that the vaccines will implant magnets and nano computers into them or turn them into Knicks fans.”
At that moment, Hopper Tilley-Blandin was feeling mostly…annoyance. Once again -- in his mind -- his mother and his younger sisters Olympia and Silver had foisted upon him an act of fealty to a family whose ties were fraying following his parents’ sudden divorce and his father’s subsequent, freakish death.
The veils of memory tend to obscure the beginnings of things, but for the solitary soul with any imagination, there is no end to the variety of possible endings to a story. The reason or reasons I ended up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in 1990 are subject to the whims of marriage and family, the conveniences of geography and transportation, and advances in technology, mixed with the fear of the unknown. Replaying in my mind all the scenarios for my departure from Harrisburg nearly three decades later leaves me certain now, from the moment I arrived in Pennsylvania’s capital city from New York, that I would be leaving.
Hopper Tilley-Blandin paused at his latest crossroad. This time, the choice was not between this random thing or that random thing. It was not even a choice between the two women, his ex-wife Ingrid Brzezinski or Charlize Theron, the girlfriend who had been on-and-off ghosting him since the onset of the pandemic. No, his choice: retreat to the safety of his family or move forward with someone outside the protective, insulated shell provided his family. The eighth installment of the short-story series, “The 12 Days of the Tilley-Blandin Coronavirus Christmas.”
Life as you knew it – if you survive the pandemic – will return to forms changed but still recognizable to you. We will rejoice in the dread of going back to the office restroom.
In early March, Jessie Andersen made the first phone call to her father, Stephen. He and his late wife Gwendolyn had raised four daughters, who were known as the Andersen sisters. The Andersen sisters followed simple rules, agreed upon and codified following the death of their mother. Please carefully re-read those first three sentences. It will make things easier for you.