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Once Bette’s eyes closed, the liquor’s warmth masqueraded as Avery’s warm body pressed against hers. She imagined herself in Avery’s arms with her head resting on her chest, then let the memory of Avery’s rhythmic breathing take her to a time before the explosion.
A tug on her shoulder knocked her back to reality. When she opened her eyes, Reagan stood over her, saying she needed to take a shower.
“Come on, Bette.” Reagan pulled her up, then threw one of Bette’s arms over her shoulder. “I got you.”
When they reached her bedroom door, the room she and Avery shared, Bette stopped. “Please, not in here.”
“We don’t have a choice. It’s the only walk-in shower on this floor. No more sponge baths for you. Janet’s orders.” Reagan readjusted her grip. “Besides, everything is ready.”
Unconvinced, Bette remained nailed to the floorboards.
“Mom would hate to see you like this. You always dressed so cool around her.”
A memory tugged at Bette. Avery once told her that her modern tomboy look of jeans, t-shirts, leather, and wool sweaters “oozed cool and sexy at the same time.” She didn’t pattern her style off anyone in particular. Instead, she developed it over time. Besides missing the way Avery’s eyes devoured her when she rocked her favorite leather jacket, she missed the way she felt in it.
“Maybe it’s about time.” Bette took a deep breath and pushed forward past the guest room, into the master bathroom where Janet waited.
“You made it. Sit.” Janet offered her a seat atop the toilet lid. “Everything is ready, including the seat in the shower.” She wrapped Bette’s cast with a special plastic bag and secured it with a rubber band. “I can stay.”
“I’ll be fine. If I need help, I’ll give you a shout.”
Bette could maneuver in and out of this shower, even with her casted leg. After her grandmother had her first stroke, she equipped the stall with handicapped rails to accommodate her frail body.
“I’ll pull out clothes and have them ready for you when you finish up,” Janet said with a smile.
With some effort, Bette undressed, then hopped the few feet to the shower and turned on the water. After it warmed up, she grabbed the handicapped rail and sat on the plastic chair buttressed against the far wall. Using the hose and wand, she let the water beat down on her shoulders and back.