If you haven’t read Chapters one or two, start here.
For Joyce, life changed on a Tuesday. The sun was high in the crystal sky, casing the community in beautiful rays of spring sunlight. California water restrictions had stripped the landscape of flowers, yet on this day, the spiky drought-resistant plants had transformed from a dowdy brown to vibrant hues of green and purple, adding joyful pops of color. The air tasted of chlorine and SPF. Children with goggles wrapped tightly around their eyes tiptoed on the pool deck, careful not to burn their feet on the scorching surface.
Bob offered to man the office so Joyce could enjoy the first day of spring, her favorite season, outside surrounded by her residents. She parked herself at the picnic table by the pool with the latest John Grisham in hand, appreciating the warmth on her skin and the shrieks of laughter from the children as they cannonballed into the deep end.
Then, it happened.
One moment Joyce’s brown eyes were soaking in the words of her favorite author, and a single blink later they were watching Silvia Kravitz running through the breezeway. Joyce closed the book, being sure to dog-ear her page, and folded her hands, waiting. Silvia treated every maintenance request as if it were a life-threatening emergency. Clogged toilets, jammed quarter slot, massive flood—they all received the same over-the-top reaction.
This time felt different though. It wasn’t because of the urgency in Silvia’s steps, and it wasn’t because of the emotion on her face (she had none—the woman was eighty percent Botox, and the rest was silicone). Dread swirled around in Joyce’s stomach as if she had just eaten five-day-old Chinese takeout.
Before Silvia could get the words “Something’s happened!” out of her mouth, Joyce was up and running, going as fast as her mature limbs would take her.