by OLIVE MULLET
“In this parish, you have to have a sense of humor,” announced the tall young minister spreading a wry smile over his congregation. Sissy gasped. Strange to say that at a funeral. Clearly, this fresh-faced minister never met the deceased, but he’s meeting her ilk in the assembled mourners.
Sissy gazed across the aisle to the dragon ladies. Choke pearls gleamed around corrugated throats on x-ray thin, wrinkled bodies, sheathed in silk. In olden days, their shoulders would be draped with a fling, a fox biting its tail. Today it was a sea of full-length mink. Glinting eyes, framed in arched eyebrows and the broader surface of ridged faces, completed the impact of virulent red on pinched mouths and rouge-spotted cheeks.
With each hymn sung, Sissy reacquainted herself with the old familiar half-hearted voices, born either of lack of church attendance or breeding not to overdo anything. The organist’s loud chords filled the church to cover the tepid response. Rebelliously, Sissy boomed out her voice.
The young minister looked as alien to this congregation as Sissy felt to her own family. After his opening comment, the minister retreated to the altar and his perfunctory duties. Towards his rigid back, Sissy sent a shaft of warmth. Her only reason for attendance was to bear witness to the family matriarch’s burial.
She wouldn’t have known of it except for Cousin Caro. Her cousin’s nickname, short for Caroline, always called up the dark syrup used in pecan pies. Her own “Sissy” wasn’t even close to her own name Susanna Aldrich, but that nickname had stuck from childhood.
Caro told Sissy the funeral date would be set once they’d found a minister. She sounded like she was trying to match priest to beliefs in a contemporary patched-together wedding.
Caro’s thick, raspy voice always sounded like lava bubbling over rough stone, “Oh, darling, but how simply divine to hear your voice.” Caro appeared to be inviting her to a party, not to her own mother’s funeral. The location was a given—“Same church, of course, as for Daddy”—the oldest and most beautiful in Georgetown. Yes, Sissy remembered it from twelve years before for Uncle. Now it was Aunt Mary’s turn.
The eleven o’clock sunlight tipped into the tall stained glass window figures behind the altar—something not seen at Uncle’s funeral on a January rainy day. The sun, even before it reached the window’s top panel, sketched a brilliant line along the sacristy floor. Sissy watched it progress down the altar and the columns to the nave and front pews. Hidden momentarily under the pew’s woodwork, it lapped its silent path towards her.
A gnomon, or hidden sundial, near the sacristy in Baroque churches—like St. Sulpice in Paris. All a vigilant eye could ever detect was a mysterious brass line laid into the stone floor near the communion rail, and no one would necessarily connect that line with the sun shining through a small opening on the south wall. Innocuous enough, except that it marked the solar year’s passage. Hidden from anti-religious vandals during the Revolution, a gnomon was a precise instrument of time.
A secret sign of irrevocable time was perfect for a matriarch’s passing, the end of an era. And like the gnomon, Sissy thought, this crowd conceals, holds secrets.
The backdrop ceremony droned on, according to ingrained form—up and down for hymns, prayers, and Biblical passages read. Sissy’s eyes remained fixed on the light. Moving down the column, the bold sun blazed all the figures—stained glass, marble, or live—into oblivion.
“When I talked to Sarah and Caroline yesterday,” the minister’s eyes now rested tentatively on the sisters seated side by side but not touching. “I learned some wonderful stories about Mary McPherson.”
Sissy shot her eyes upward: Surely, not going to tell them here!
No, gratefully, he went no further. Did Sissy detect a frisson of fear?—until a few moments later, Sissy heard a squeak from a pew, and Stuart, one of the adopted grandsons, rose from the aisle seat two pews in front. He lumbered towards the pulpit.
“When I was a boy, Grandmother insisted I sit next to her up at the head of the table.” Sissy watched his large belly jiggle momentarily into stiffness. His eyelids flickered once and then dissolved into rapid blinks. Ah, the memories—Sissy felt for him.
Stuart’s words came while he gazed at the ceiling and repeatedly cleared his throat, “She told me, ‘Act yourself.’ When I asked what that meant, she said, ‘Don’t be formal and don’t be an impudent bore.’ Within that narrow range, I hope to speak today.” He inhaled a long breath.
Sissy had no problem envisioning the fat child shrinking into the chair back and staring at his hands, with only a sideways glance to the matriarch. Even the youngest sensed the raking fury. Hadn’t she herself? Draped uncomfortably over the pulpit, Stuart resembled still the overgrown, unhappy boy, not yet released from “Grandmother.” Sissy’s aunt’s gravelly voice would punctuate every syllable with those long red fingernails hitting the table.
Stuart’s high-pitched voice burst forth, more rushed while gazing above the congregants. “We were out in the boat late and couldn’t see because of the fog. Then all of a sudden, there were lights all along the shore. I did not realize ‘til later that Grandmother had told all the neighbors to put on their lights so we could find our way back.”
Sissy screwed up her mouth. Aunt Mary always did favor the boys. Stuart flowed into another memory.
“She took us out on the lawn and pointed up to the sky. ‘See that bright star there? That’s your grandfather partying up there.’ Well, now that star will be brighter with both of them partying.” Actually, Aunt’s guttural tone would utter, “one hell of a party.”
Party—Sissy recalled just such a party, herself in pigtails. A huge circus-sized tent had been pitched on the farm’s front lawn. She was watching grownups weaving to and from the drinks table, balancing their plates as precariously as their sideways conversations. Sissy had stood alone until Caro startled by appearing alongside her. Even in the church pew, Sissy could feel the urge to flee from this flashy, unpredictable cousin. To conceal these feelings under the tent, Sissy had asked about a guest she remembered seeing at lots of Aunt Mary’s parties. Caro twisted her mouth, “Oh, Mummy’s had enough of her.” Like a bit of food one tired of or a dress. It was the first time Sissy realized the ruthlessness of this social scene: Aunt Mary could either make or break you.
But Caro, in approaching her under the tent, was exhibiting their famous hostess skills. She or her mother honed in on any lonely soul. The invariable words would be, “You just must meet my dearest friends…” Then the timid lady—always a female clutching her drink for dear life—was led into a group, or better yet, introduced to a gentleman.
The minister was now reading from his notes. Intending to add to Stuart’s eulogy, he picked something he thought a harmless “good deed” done by the deceased: “She was generous to her grandchildren—paid for their college education without even being asked.” Directly in front of Sissy, Sarah stiffened her back with a sharp glance to her tall, slumped husband. Sarah’s children, a boy and a girl in their early teens, crushed together on the pew, leaving perceptible space between themselves and Caro’s stepsons, Stuart and Roland, only one of whom was young enough to be still attending college.
“Onward Christian Soldiers” rang out while the congregation stood. Perfect for the aunt’s triumph! For a second, Sissy expected her to march down the aisle, head high.
Caro replicated that triumphant march when she and Sarah passed down the aisle. At Caro’s side, Sarah, the unexpected and generally invisible second child, appeared pale and shaky, a thin branch stretching its early spring tendrils weakly backward towards her husband. Big-boned Caro, jutting her jaw high, winked to many in the congregation, while her broad-brimmed hat bobbed side to side jauntily. At the church door’s reception line, Sissy leaned forward to whisper in Caro’s ear, “I’m so sorry.” Caro’s headshot back, “Well, I’m not.”
Caro, the newly freed merry widow. A year ago, Sissy had heard that Caro became a good nurse to her husband who, losing strength fast, went from wheelchair to death within a month. Now Caro was checking Sissy over, “But how sensational you look. Doesn’t she look sensational?” Caro pinched the arm of her stepson Roland, who nodded awkwardly, never having seen Sissy before. Sissy stiffened, anticipating Caro’s favorite expression—that somehow Sissy would be someone “to die over.” Fortunately, not the place for that phrase.
From the damp, overheated church, Sissy rushed out into the cold bright early December air and to her car. How could Caro not be sorry? In one year, she had lost both husband and mother.
Even before Sissy opened the car door, the yapping dog had both paws on the window. Then after their usual enthusiastic embrace, she flipped down the sun visor’s tiny mirror while the little dog, prancing on her lap, reached to lick her. Only a loose lock needed shoving underneath the hat—thank goodness. Before the church service, she had spent fifteen minutes at her toilette in the cooling car, before she dared enter the church. This self-consciousness before the family better be the last!
Sissy knew her reputation as Prissy Sissy, the spinster, her hair now peppered gray, her slight form not worth noticing. She was nothing like her flamboyant cousin who used to Charleston the night away. Her refined sense of taste was cultivated as an unrequited Anglophile, giving authentic teas inside a transformed Cotswold’s cottage, which happened to be in Virginia. For a moment, her prized roses came to mind, now tightly wound in burlap for the winter – looking like modern stone-gray statues, twisted and confined.
“Wouldn’t have come, Cinnamon—except she’s the last of Mother’s generation. We’d both rather be home, I know.”
She grimaced into the mirror, recalling her mother’s and aunt’s rivalry. Their mutual dislike extended to regifting any presents exchanged.
Her taupe and black, raw silk dress now showed wrinkles. Sighing, she reached down to hold Cinnamon’s perky, orange Pomeranian face.
The dog’s yapping when she approached the car, his dancing with his tail in the center—always his gesture of welcome—never failed to make her smile. One hand, fitting around his tight stomach, now lifted him from the seat and set him down in the small green behind the church. Even though her heels sunk into sandy spots between wet strewn leaves, she wobbled happily.
“You must be a good boy for a little bit longer. Just another hour, and then it will be over.” For good! In spite of the cold wind, warmth shot through her. She need never see these people again.
A gust of wind picked up a wet leaf, depositing it flat against her leg. She swished it off—a dirty thing. “Just an hour,” she whispered pleadingly, carefully placing Cinnamon back on the seat, and noticing his gray hair. “My little gentleman,” she patted him sadly.
At the bottom of the stairs, there was a pyramid of coats draped haphazardly over a love seat. At least the mirror showed that the wind hadn’t undone her hair. After hooking her coat over the banister’s square end, she bent forward up the narrow dark stairs.
Her aunt’s townhouse was strange, even by confined Georgetown standards—as vertical and obscure as an elevator shaft rising from the coat rack to midway up the stairs, the kitchen-dining room’s location, and then all the way up to the living room and library. It was neither old nor charming, unlike most Georgetown homes. The only public room with windows was the living room. By the time Sissy had reached that room, it was crowded—mostly with the dragon ladies festooned in broad-brimmed hats and black satin handbags dangling off their bony wrists, expertly balancing drinks and platefuls of salmon-cream puffs, baked brie on two fingers’ width toasts, shrimp and tomato aspic.
Sissy felt dislocated. Where was Aunt Mary, who invariably spotted me as soon as I reached the top of the steps? “How’s my favorite niece?” used to enchant the child Sissy until age gave her realization that she was the only one. Her aunt would put a big arm around her shoulders, leading her forcefully into a corner to whisper, “Where have you been hiding all these years?” Then a moment later, her son-in-law, Caro’s husband, Conrad, would interrupt concerning one of the guests. “Well, go do something about it, dammit. Can’t you do anything right?” spit out her aunt, never in a whisper, but instead, with enough heat to turn a few faces in her direction. Conrad had died six months ago, a gentle soul who never spoke a wicked word about anyone, and about whom, the only complaint was that he insisted on a whole grapefruit for breakfast. Conrad would appear at Sissy’s elbow and wink before turning from his mother-in-law. “Such an ass,” rang out after his departing back. Then Aunt would return to Sissy, who by that time had become frozen, easy to topple. The arms around Sissy tightened, nails digging in just below her shoulder blades.
This time, however, Sissy only received vague nods from the rouged dragons. They exhibited tight grimaces out the corners of their mouths, and not from strokes. Their eyes shone their survivor status, while long gnarled fingers curled rapaciously around plates and glasses.
Sissy was not allowed to wander long, because there advanced Caro, arms wide. “Darling, this is so divine. Sensational that you could come. Mums would have been so pleased. She loved you very much, you know.” Caro’s voice lowered to almost a whisper on the last words, as though conferring a secret. Sissy wanted to back up, but Caro’s grip proved as strong as her mother’s. Fortunately, just at that moment, one of Caro’s stepsons tapped her on the shoulder. While being led away, she gushed, “Come into the library. I absolutely must talk to you. It’s been so long.”
Sarah tipped towards her hunched, abstracted husband to the right of the drinks table. Sissy nodded, suddenly shy of one whom she’d seen only as a baby. She remembered the infant’s blonde curly hair and wide laughing mouth. This image did not match the pencil-thin mouth, pale, tight, closed face, and delicate frown lines, visible through the blonde bangs.
Petite, fine-boned Sarah did not resemble either parent. Mother had told Sissy that Sarah was Uncle’s favorite child—Was he protection against the two lionesses? Uncle was not strong, over time retreating into his drinks.
Sissy recalled her mother’s story about Sarah’s husband, college professor Walt, when he was first introduced to Aunt Mary. Constitutionally withdrawn and bookish, he had never met anyone like Aunt Mary, who in turn had never read even a newspaper. Her first foray against him started moments after their introduction, “Now what’s the difference between ordinary and common?” Later he recounted to Sarah that he was considering his answer, lost in the French origin for ‘vulgar,’ and so had been unaware of his mother-in-law’s insult. Although he didn’t seem upset, Sarah vowed never to see her mother again.
Hence, no mistake that Caro held court in the library while Sarah stayed in the living room—though perhaps their locations should have been reversed.
Sissy stood with her back to the drinks table from which she had plucked a gin and tonic shockingly—so early in the day! And boldness led her to introducing herself to Sarah and Walt.
“How very nice to finally meet you,” said Sarah with a wide smile and a gentle hug. Sissy had only seen Sarah at Uncle’s funeral from across the room. At this reception, however, following the abbreviated stories of their lives, Sissy learned that academic life was no more glamorous than Sissy’s. Here was a cousin she felt related to! Also, Sarah dressed appropriately in a classic black dress and no jewelry.
They would have gone on chatting had not Caro appeared and abruptly taken Sarah away to do some errand. And shy Walt wandered into the library to gaze at dusty books in dark corners.
Thus, Sissy, left alone, leaning against the wall, drifted into memories.
Sissy remembered her own debutante party, which she agreed to only at her mother’s insistence. Since it was her own coming-out party, she was not expected to entertain anyone, but only to float bride-like in a blur of dances. Her table’s girls in strapless gowns like she—hers a dusty rose—disguised their self-consciousness with undue attention to the food.
Then Caro appeared at the table next to hers. The same awkward mumblings were heard before Caro arrived. The next thing Sissy heard was Caro saying, “Hi. Let me tell you what happened to me today.” Of course, Sissy could not remember the story Caro told, but she’d never forgotten the reaction. Everyone at that table was soon laughing, encouraged to tell similar stories. Even Sissy’s own group tittered, glancing wistfully over to that livelier table.
She was interrupted from her reveries by Caro waving for her to come join her. Caro’s oversized gold bracelet flashed on her whirling arms.
With a big gulp of her drink, Sissy picked up another and slowly walked into the library. Caro’s group were all talking and trying to get her attention, “Listen to this, Caro. Can you believe it?” Peripherally, Sissy took in the anachronism of faithful black servants—silent and virtually invisible in white aprons—offering silver trays of hors d’oeuvres which elicited the sporadic, “Oh, I simply must have another of those wonderful canapés.”
“Darling, you must come meet some of our oldest friends.” Sissy noticed now that the friends consisted of an elderly, tall gentleman in a pinstriped suit, with handkerchief’s peak above his breast pocket, and a lady still wearing white gloves. They nodded awkwardly, and beside them stood more banker-types. Her scotch ice clinking, Caro leaned over Sissy, “We must talk. Mummy spoke so often about you at the end.” The slight smile instantly changed into a guffaw at a man’s whispered comment in her ear, and soon Caro was being pulled away. “Christ, you got that right!” rang in the air following her departure.
During the perfunctory conversation that ensued, Sissy discovered the lady to be one of Aunt Mary’s bridge players and the bankers some of Uncle’s old golfers. Since Sissy had studiously avoided both activities as signs of old age, she excused herself to get food.
On the stairs down to the buffet in the mezzanine dining room, a woman, gray but spry, though noticeably chubbier than most around her, approached Sissy, “I bet you don’t remember me. We went to primary school together.” The woman wore a pink blouse and gray skirt, both wrinkled, and pink—singularly wrong for a funeral. Not surprisingly, nothing came to mind about this playmate, including, most importantly, her name.
“Wait for me. We’ll talk,” the first-grade classmate’s lips brushed her ear as she flew out of the room. Sissy nodded, but while she circled the buffet, the woman did not reappear. Outside the dining room and the kitchen, she overheard Caro’s carrying voice, harsh in its insistence, “Shit. Of course, you must have it. It’s of Jamie.” Sissy recalled suddenly the old Scottish farm caretaker, his wonderfully lined, never-young face, and the Glasgow accent, impossible to penetrate. Jamie, nevertheless, made his meaning clear, along with the down-to-earth humor. His widow—still recognizable, though skeletal now—was clutching a Plaster of Paris bust of her husband, which Caro had sculpted, and the completed bust sold years before. Tears were flowing as the widow grasped the pre-bronzed cast hard, afraid it might be taken from her.
Looking down the stairs to the pile of coats, Sissy recalled an Advent calendar, her aunt’s gift one Christmas. As soon as Sissy’s childish hand had presented her own prescribed gift, the aunt abruptly had said, “Wait here.” A half hour or more later, Sissy was still standing frozen by the mirror. She had been afraid to move from the spot. Finally, the door burst open. Her aunt thrust into Sissy’s hand a narrow parcel, its cardboard holder half-opened. No one from this side of the family ever said, “thank you,” but this gift proved to deserve no thanks, something the aunt must have realized by shooing Sissy out the door. Examining the calendar at home, she had to laugh. Several days of the calendar had already been opened. She pictured her aunt charging into a neighbor’s house, snatching the calendar from a child’s hands, maybe replacing it with a box of candies, and rushing out the door. Just another recycled present.
The worst memory now came to her, while Sissy leaned against the coats at the bottom of the stairs. Maybe it was the narrowness of the stairs at Aunt Mary’s that took her back into the long narrow hall of New York’s Plaza Hotel to when she was seven years old. Her mother had left her in the room to go to a party. Sissy remembered looking outside into the night, to the streets far below, down the canyon of buildings to a jagged flow of car lights. It was the “room on the tippy-top floor” of the Plaza, just like Eloise’s. Her heart plummeted with her gaze and then shot up fast like an elevator, as she recalled the words, “Charge it, please. I’m Eloise.” Having been told to go to bed, she felt the threat of the dark suite. Why had she been there at all? Sissy couldn’t remember. To this day, she hated New York—too big and scary.
Finally, coughing and hiccupping, the child staggered off the bed. Grabbing the room key, she opened the door and tentatively stepped out, hearing the door click behind her. The light was dim, and the hallway stretched endlessly. Her fingers clutching the key made cuts in her palm with the pressure, but she hardly noticed. She brushed arm and elbow to both sides checking shoes left outside to shine, trays with empty champagne bottles, usually two glasses and small white plates, crumbs still sticking to them, bits of French bread broken apart. Aimlessly, she flipped the “Do Not Disturb” signs on the doorknobs.
Just when she came to it, the elevator stopped and out stepped Aunt Mary and Caro. Sissy raced back to the room, but they were too fast. On either side of her, they lifted her back down the hall. “Wouldn’t you like to see the city, Sissy?” growled Aunt Mary, gripping around her pajama arms. “We could show her that, couldn’t we, Caro?” Caro nodded and laughed loud while keeping pace with her mother. Sissy’s feet did not touch the floor.
They dangled her all around the hall. Sissy pictured herself like a dog swung from his front paws. When they reached her mother’s suite, Sissy looked at it longingly, her eyes filling. “Now, where do you want to go, Sissy? We’ll take you. You know your mother’s not coming back for a long time, so we can go outside, anywhere.” Aunt Mary’s face glowered down at her now, a look as sharp as the fingernails pinching her armpits. Boulder-like seven-year-old Caro stuck her face inches from Sissy’s, smirking. “First visit—need to see the town.”
Sissy had tried to put her feet down or brace a foot against the wall when they approached the elevator. Her smaller form allowed her finally to squirm free and race back to the room. She still doesn’t know how she managed the key to work in the time she had. But closing and locking the door behind her, Sissy overhead a cackle and after, a bored hoarse voice, “Well, she’s no fun.”
“Are you leaving now?” The echo came from her old schoolmate, startling Sissy, still standing by the mirror. The creased, chubby face, above her on the stairs, spun away mouthing, “I’ll be there in a minute.”
Sissy rose to get her coat. Then she plunked down on the loveseat beside the downstairs door, surrounded by coats. The door opened and closed to the cold outside, but no one seemed to notice Sissy scrunched there. Why was she waiting? It seemed impolite to leave, but she didn’t know what she’d talk to this stranger about. After about fifteen minutes, she plodded upstairs to seek out this nameless old classmate. Instead, she found Caro for the moment alone on the stairwell outside the buffet.
Sissy was alarmed at how tired and pale Caro looked. Grief? Fatigue from all the preparations? A flinch or wince pulsated on Caro’s face momentarily before she turned away. Certainly, she was not her usual robust self. “You leaving? We didn’t get a chance to talk.” The voice was hollow, the tone resigned, the eyes distant. The absence of “sweetheart/darling” together with no flung-out embraces kept Sissy still. In the vestibule’s dim light, Caro looked unhealthy, and Sissy wondered about her life. She’d always drunk too much, just like her parents.
They faced each other without moving. Sissy weaved uncertainly, sensing buried anger. But then some old gent came and shook Caro’s hands warmly, and Caro reached up to his high shoulders and ringed his neck, “Lovely of you to come. So wonderful to see you.” Others flowed through then, allowing Sissy to flow with them once more to the door.
Just outside, three dragon ladies paused to slip on their gloves. They leaned forward to whisper, loud enough for Sissy to hear.
“Did you hear that Caro is going to see ‘Stupid’ for Christmas?”
Sissy recoiled. “Stupid” was Caro’s name for her husband’s ex-wife. Why now? Except maybe to keep in touch with the stepsons whom Caro did like?
The same lady continued, “Yes, it’s true. Caro told me herself. But,”—and here the voice dropped so that Sissy had to lean forward to hear the rest. The breathy, hoarse voice whispered on, “But she didn’t tell me everything. Saw Mattie on my way out. Crying in the kitchen, she was. Of course, she’s been with them forever. I asked what Mary died of, because even after the bridge parties were cut off—only three weeks ago unbelievably—no one said a word. Mary did look frightful at that last game, don’t you think?” (Pause) “Anyway, between Mattie’s sobs, I heard it—‘Colon cancer.’ Well, I know about that. My father died of that in less than a month after the diagnosis. Anyway, Mattie got herself quite worked up. I became alarmed someone else might walk in. I hugged her—never done that before!—but just to hush her up some. She was always so quiet—hardly knew she was there. I assumed the sobs were for her ex-mistress, but she said quite suddenly, ‘Oh, poor Caro.’ ‘Yes, yes,’ I was saying. But then she went on, ‘She has it too.’ I thought I hadn’t heard properly, ‘til she said it again. ‘She has the same cancer. She just found out.’”
After they’d gone, Sissy could not move. She found herself looking back up to the living room window, as though to catch a glimpse of Caro. When she turned away towards the road, the sun had finally burst through the gray sky. It stabbed her directly in the eye, as it had from the church’s windowpane.
Suddenly dizzy, Sissy fell backward onto a wrought iron bench by the gate. Why was she still there? She kept thinking there was something she should do, but couldn’t remember what. Her eyes flickered open, just in time to see the old schoolmate rushing out the door, with profuse apologies. “I just had to spend some time with Caro. She doesn’t really remember me any better than you do. But someone has to get her to talk. Not me, though. I wasn’t the one. She didn’t tell me anything when I found her crumpled up in a chair, breathing hard. Something’s definitely wrong. Not just grief.”
Sissy stared at this woman. Why do you care? Quite a concept—a reunion of primary school classmates at a funeral. But Sissy’s primary school classmate just returned her look with open concern. She was shaking her head about Caro, “All she said was, ‘You know I have an address book full of friends, and I told a few that I was going to the doctor for some tests. But did anyone call afterward? Not a soul.’ She told me that, of course, laughing her head off.”
Caro and Sissy—forever a month apart. Their mothers had been told to try for a girl, for their grandmother’s sake. Their destiny was to be great friends.
On January l, Sissy was determined to act on a New Year’s Resolution. She would find out how Caro was doing. A strip of sun traveled from the window to the phone, which she gripped hard, having to check the number more than once.
Moments later, the recorded message left her lost, “This number is not in service. No more information is available at this time.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olive Mullet has published short stories online and in academic journals. Olive lived her formative years in Florence, Italy in the 1950s. Her first story “les Voleurs” was in Michigan State University’s Red Cedar Review. Recently, American Writers Review 2020 published “Water, Water Everywhere.”
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