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As her husband drifted off to sleep Gabrielle wondered how her life would be if she had never sent Bill Finger that first text message. She hadn’t planned to comply with his request, she felt badly over having fallen on him in the METRO and was glad he had turned out to be quite a sport about it but she really didn’t need a protector, especially one who couldn’t really help her anyway. “I still blame it on that damn widow,” she snorted under her breath.

Arlington National Cemetery’s Dewey Drive cul-de-sac is about a mile from the METRO station but the day couldn’t have been any nicer weather wise. The problem was that she got lost after stumbling across the bereaved woman.

Gabrielle bee-lined from the METRO west on Memorial Avenue and then headed south on Eisenhower. She’d made the trip easily a hundred times in the last twenty plus years and she had a strong imprint in her mind of what things looked like, or at least what they’d looked like when she could still see. She headed right on Bradley and when she arrived at the complicated intersection of Bradley, Grant, Porter and Jessup she still knew exactly where she was. It was the poor woman wailing in the distance that tripped her up.

“Damn it,” she whispered to herself before calling more loudly, “Excuse me! Are you okay? Can I help?” The wailing stopped but there was no reply. “Ma’am?”

“I’m sorry,” came the husky throated response. “I didn’t mean to disturb you.”

“You didn’t disturb me, I think I’m here for the same reason that you are. Are you okay?”

“Your husband was killed?”

“My brother. In Iraq.”

The wailing began again but after a moment the other woman controlled herself enough to ask, “Iraq? IED?”

“No. It wasn’t recent. I’m here to pay my respects.”

“That’s nice. That’s important. How long?”

“Nineteen ninety one.”

“Oh. Oh, I see. Does it, does it get easier?”

“He was my brother, not my husband. I loved, love, him. I’m sure it’s not the same. What was your husband’s name?”

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