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Born deaf Jessie Alomar's world has always been silent. With the sudden death of her father it becomes a bit darker. She travels to the jungles of Costa Rica to settle his affairs and find out more about how he died.
In the small jungle clinic she meets the people whose lives were saved and changed by her father. Rubio Moro, a paramedic who worked with her father shares the news that the clinic is being closed by its financial backers. Together they hatch a possibly misguided plan to save it and her father's legacy.
Together they find clues about her father's last days. Why was he in the jungle alone? Who is the woman in the last picture he drew? Rubio becomes more than just her guide as he introduces her to the beauty of Costa Rica. Will their plan succeed or will the answers to the questions they seek cost Jessie her heart?
Page Count: 298
Word Count: 69871
Her father’s casket emerged from the dark hollows of the plane. Pushed from behind, it glided along the cold steel rollers of the cargo ramp, a simple gray box without adornment. A few airline workers in matching jumpsuits became unintentional pall bearers as they lifted it from the ramp and transferred it to a wheeled gurney.
Jessie Alomar watched it all with her thumbs hooked in her jeans pockets. Her father had taught her to stand like that, like an Arizona tomboy, a woman just as likely to throw you a baseball as ask to borrow your mascara. She should’ve worn a skirt. A black skirt. She should’ve worn a black skirt and some respectful shoes instead of coming here dressed just like the man who occupied that coffin on this Flagstaff airport tarmac. But she knew the greatest way to honor him was to show him how much of his spirit survived in his only child.
The impromptu funeral procession approached, stopping a few feet away from her. One of the men said something, but Jessie was too intent on her memories. He moved his feet uncomfortably, shifting his weight, and only then did she look up.
He repeated himself: “Are you Mrs. Alomar?”
Reading lips was like painting glass. At times the brush strokes stood out clearly, if the light was right and properly angled. But then things got muddy, the paints smearing into one another due to any number of reasons. This time it was easy. Dusk was an hour away, the tarmac still bright on this midsummer afternoon. Jessie had no trouble seeing his words.
“I’m not a Mrs.,” she replied in her foggy-voiced way, “but yeah, that’s me.”
“My name’s Derek. I’ve been instructed to assist you in the repatriation of the remains.”
Jessie absorbed that. What an odd phrase. Repatriation of the remains. Was that the standard euphemism for shipping a dead body back home? “Thank you. What…what do I need to do?”
“We have some paperwork, if you don’t mind. It’ll take only a few minutes.” By now he’d slowed his speech like they always did. After realizing she was deaf—or hearing impaired, if you wanted to be PC, which Jessie rarely was—he over-shaped his words and spoke with noticeable slowness. He didn’t know any better. And Jessie was too depleted by grief to care.
“That will be fine,” she said, though nothing in the world was fine anymore.
Her dad had raised her by himself and was probably her best friend, if you wanted to get real about it. Jessie had always thought of him as a combination of Moses and Indiana Jones, full of wisdom and ready to lead humanity to salvation if only he could keep himself from being distracted by rumors of treasures on far-flung shores. This time those shores were Costa Rica. And Archie Alomar hadn’t even had the decency to come back to Arizona alive.
She blinked several times and told the tears to hold their fire.
“While you’re taking care of that,” Derek said, “we’ll transfer the remains to the car sent by the funeral service.”
This time she only nodded. Derek motioned toward an office inside the nearest hangar. Jessie followed him. Behind her, the others resumed their march, rolling the casket across the concrete.
Jessie turned to watch it go. She wondered what the wheels sounded like as they carried her father away.
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