I called Anna’s sister, Frankie, while I drove and told her I was coming to the city for a couple days. I knew she had a two-bedroom apartment and I asked if I could use her spare bedroom. I needed to talk to Frankie about my plans. For whatever weird reason, talking to Frankie was like talking to Anna. They looked alike and their personalities were the same. I can’t even begin to explain why I felt the need to get Anna’s approval, but it was the last step before I could move on. I already knew what Frankie would say. She would say that Anna would want nothing more than for me to be happy but I had to hear her say it, like it was Anna saying it. Frankie seemed to be thrilled with my call and said something about déjà vu and told me she had something important to tell me.
Frankie met me in the lobby of her fancy apartment building. She was giddy as she threw herself into my arms the moment I stepped out of the revolving door to the lobby. I held her with one arm as she threw her arms around my neck and showered me with quick pecking kisses. I moved us off to the side so others, coming and going, could pass. I set my bag down and held her with both arms. Her feet were off the floor. Passers-by smiled at us as they went by.
In the elevator, she was talking a mile-a-minute. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She looked so much like Anna. Her voice was the same and she even used the same syntax and expressions that Anna used. Genetics or environment? Who knew. She had on a pair of jeans that looked like they had been sprayed on. Her ass was just like Anna’s too. Perfect. Before recent developments, my heart would be in my throat just looking at Frankie and I admit that my heart quickened.
We talked all afternoon about stuff. When we ran out of stuff to talk about, I got down to business. After Anna’s wake, I had her cremated like she wanted and Frankie volunteered to hold the urn until I decided what to do with it. I asked her if she still had the urn and she looked at me like I had ten heads and said, “Of course.”
“I want to spread the ashes over the lake at the park. Anna had a favorite spot that was private and we could fool-around.” I smiled when I thought about a few of those times. They were way more than fooling around. Anna loved to have sex in semi-public, with a risk of getting caught. I wasn’t crazy about it at first but I learned to like it too. I told Frankie about a couple of them that stuck in my mind. She was amused. She’d never thought her sister Anna was that blatant about sex. Without a word, Frankie got up and went down the hall and returned in a minute carrying the brass urn. She put it on the coffee table between us and I just stared at it. Time seemed to stop.
Frankie spoke and broke the spell. “I’d like to go with you, if that’s okay?” I just nodded. I couldn’t get my voice to work for a few moments. My lungs seemed like they were jammed in my throat.
Still staring at the urn on the coffee table, I got my voice back and said, “I need to do some shopping and I’d like you to help me.”
Frankie cocked her head and looked at me oddly and said, “Anything particular?”
For whatever reason, I hadn’t anticipated that question. I had it all worked out that we’d just go shopping and wind up in the store, and then I’d tell her the story when it would be too late for her to talk me out of it. I looked into her eyes and saw Anna’s eyes. I looked away and then began examining my fingers. I gathered my resolve and said, “An engagement ring.” I braced myself for her reaction. I had gotten through the hard part of just saying it.
Frankie was apparently dumb-struck. She just sat there across the coffee table gawking at me over the urn. Slowly, her lips formed a smile and then a grin. She screeched, “YES. FINALLY. OH MY GOD, JACK.” She launched off her chair and threw herself into my arms and kissed my face everywhere over and over again. I had prayed for this reaction but I never thought I’d get it. She maneuvered herself so she was sitting on my thighs with her feet behind me as she clung to my neck. I was so relieved by her reaction that I gripped her hips and pulled her to me. She tenderly kissed me on the lips and whispered, “I never thought I’d see the day. You found someone. Oh my God. You have to tell me.”