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Phoebe’s Zoo Photograph

Page 2

A tall giraffe is framed in the background. A Hollywood moment created where Phoebe held the camera and the power. She had gazed at the photo almost every day, studying all its details until landing her gaze back on their eyes. She kissed her finger before lightly touching each face.

Unless she was in her private domain Phoebe couldn’t always hold the cherished photograph in her soft hands, but could still picture its fully composed harmony in her mind, visualizing every fragment until she became mesmerized by her children’s blue eyes shining back at her. If an unguarded thought rendered her vulnerable to an upsurge of her private terrors, halted her in fear, re-imagining Dean and Molly at the Zoo would protect her. Her well-established routine would raise her from sinking deeply into a reservoir of regrets, disdain and missed life experiences and, eventually, him.

She would then salvage herself, like a deep-sea diver pulling on a safety rope, a few sharp tugs, and up she would go, surfacing with her Miss Dentistry smile of the year, a smile that drew strangers to her perfect white teeth and away from her flat green eyes. Phoebe had perfected the same smile for everyone, including their friends Colette and Bernard when arriving at a reserved beach-view table at La Granton’s French restaurant, or when she opened the powder-blue front door of her home to greet a stranger. She applied her smile even for him at the international arrival terminal after his return from another of his corporate jaunts. She could hold her smile firmly until the door locked in the black BMW X1.

During the drive home she quietly stared straight ahead and took herself back to her Zoo, her sanctuary, a place where nature was contained, be it animal, flora or human. It was free from people’s complexities. She reasoned that Zoo life stayed much the same throughout the year.

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