After Rev. Paul's invitation, it seemed as if her two older sisters entirely forgot the third Sunday of Advent. Almost overnight, they had quickly readjusted their sights on school, friends, and boys, in ascending order of importance. Her younger sister, Lori, had talked of it a few times, at Meggie's prompting; however, you really couldn't expect more than that from a eight year old. Meggie was trying her best to keep a stillness within, a waiting. She did not wish to be swept up into the rush of sisterly or seasonal things. But she could feel the pull. So did her mother.
Her mother had written the word on a 3x5: entrainment - "the phenomenon of two rhythmic beings gradually altering their movements until they're moving together in the same rhythm." Meggie, we have a tendency to align ourselves with those around us, we all do. If you want something different, you'll have to fight for it. As Meggie read her mother's fingers, she noticed the pronounced veins of the hands.
Susan Randall could be described in many words, but the one used most often was strong. She turned most heads, but not because of her looks. Beauty was there, no doubt about it, but more than that, it was simply her presence. After hearing the words it's probably permanent, she had determined within herself that she would not let Meggie be an object of pity, nor would she be a mother of such. She was not hard on Meggie, but she was fair.
Little did Meggie, or anyone for that matter, know that of all the words Susan Randall would use to describe herself, strong was not one of them. Meggie's hearing loss had literally crushed her. Regardless of what the doctors iterated, Susan believed she could have done something, something to protect her third daughter from the silence. But what that was, she could not say. It was not long after Meggie's diagnosis that Susan began her early morning runs. Of the ladies in her 10k age division, Susan Randall had kept the best time for years. One morning, early, as she was lacing up her shoes, John rolled over and asked Susan, what do you think about when you run? She walked to the door, turned and said John, I wrestle with demons out there. And like God's mercies, they are new each morning.
Susan went along with the whole Thorn Birds, Ashes of Rose dress scenario. She had never been as dramatic as John, but there were moments she wished she was; it was one of the things she loved about her man. She had never noticed the resale shop next door to The Runner's High. As she walked in, the older woman was adjusting a dress on the mannequin to the right of the register. Susan Randall knew how to breathe, she was a runner. Yet in this moment, as she approached the dress, her lungs felt frozen. The woman sensed her presence: Simply beautiful, isn't it? A color you don't see often. I've held it in the back for months, but for some reason, I brought it out this morning. Susan's early morning run had been particularly difficult, it was like she was fighting for something held to be released. She was suddenly aware of her tears, as was the older woman. I have a lovely gift box, okay? Susan breathlessly nodded up and down, the universal sign for yes.