Squire’s Isle Created by Geonn Cannon

Living Portrait

Summary: A nice quiet morning at the Hood-Colby residence that just happens to be the fortieth anniversary of something.


“We had to cheat a little bit with that birthday dedication… that was ‘She,’ by Elvis Costello, and technically it was a little outside of KELF’s purview. But I think some artists transcend era, don’t you? And besides, it was for a very special birthday and a very special lady. So we’re sending very special wishes to the island’s new mayor, who started her job last Wednesday and now, one week later, is celebrating a birthday. That song was dedicated to her by her lovely wife, and I couldn’t turn down such a lovely ode. I hope you have a wonderful day. This is KELF in the AM, waking you up with all the hits from yesteryear. I’m your hostess, Bernadette Winters, and I’ll be with you while you wake up. Coming up we have Billy Joel, the Eagles, Joan Baez, and all manner of great music. Stick around.”

Jill slipped an arm around Patricia’s waist and pulled her close. “Happy birthday,” she whispered.

“Says you.”

Jill smiled and kissed the back of Patricia’s neck. Patricia squirmed and rolled onto her back. She freed her arm from the blankets and pushed Jill’s hair out of her face.

“The song was beautiful. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. So big plans for your big birthday?”

“Not a big birthday.”

Jill rolled her eyes. “You’re forty. That deserves–”

“Celebration? That I lived to the ripe old age of forty?” She pushed up Jill’s T-shirt and laced her fingers together in the small of her back, stroking the soft skin with her fingertips. “Forty is for people to start panicking about their lives. I have a wife. I have a son. We’re planning to have a child together. I’m the mayor of the town I adore. Forty is just a number.”

“Okay, but it’s still your birthday.”

Patricia sat up and pecked Jill’s lips. “Please don’t do anything fancy. I’ve loved the little events you always give me, and that will be fine this year. Dinner as a family, a movie, making love. Dedicating a different song to me every year…? I love that. Simple is more than enough for me when it comes from you.”

“You sure?”

“I’m positive. I’ve been looking forward to it all year.”

Jill nodded. “Okay. But I have an amendment.”

“I’m open.”

“Everything you just said… I already have a table reserved and I have a DVD waiting downstairs. Oh. Michael asked if he could bring Callie to the dinner.”

Patricia nodded. “Of course.”

“I already said yes.” She smiled. “And I have a very special outfit for tonight’s festivities.”

Patricia growled. “Can’t wait to see that. What’s the amendment?”

“That we preface it all with sex in the shower.”

Patricia rolled her eyes and pushed her hands down to cup Jill’s ass. “Well, you know how much I hate change…”

Jill squirmed away from Patricia’s grasp. “Well, I’m going to have an orgasm in the shower. You can either be there to take part or not.”

Patricia was out of bed before Jill reached the bathroom.


“This house is too big.”

Jill’s hair was still wet from the shower. She wore a lilac blouse under a purple sweater, rubbing her hands together as she entered the kitchen. It was still dark outside, and the heater was making a valiant effort to reach all the corners of the mayor’s mansion. She shuddered and moved close to the stove where Patricia had started the French toast. She held her hands near the burners and shivered dramatically.

Patricia leaned in and pecked her cheek. “Maybe it wouldn’t feel so cold if you hadn’t stayed in the shower until the hot water ran out.”

“Where’s the fun in that?”

She grinned and bumped her shoulder against Patricia’s arm, turning to open the fridge. They had only moved into the house eight days earlier, and everything still felt model-home pristine. Everything in the fridge was new, with no containers of forgotten leftovers, half-empty condiment jars past their expiration date, or mystery meals. She poured herself a glass of milk and held up the carton to silently ask if Patricia wanted one.

“Yes, please. Was the light on in Michael’s room?”


Patricia sucked the butter from her thumb. “I’ll call him down in a minute.” Her cell phone beeped and she crossed her eyes in mock irritation. “It begins already.”

Jill was closer, so she picked up the phone and passed it to her. “Maybe they’re calling to tell you not to come in today.”

“We can hope.” She looked at the screen and frowned. “What? Hello?” She started to put her hand on her hip, but then realized she was already wearing her work clothes and didn’t want to get any of her breakfast prep smeared on them.

“Patricia. It’s your mother.”

“I know. I recognized your name on the phone. Is everything all right? Is Daddy…?”

“Your father is fine. I simply wanted to wish you a happy birthday.”

Patricia raised an eyebrow. “Why is this one different from the last seven? It can’t be just because I’m forty. I’m sure you haven’t been keeping close enough track to know that.”

Jill looked up and mouthed ‘Your mother?’ Patricia nodded, so Jill stepped closer to offer moral support. Patricia rested her hand on her wife’s shoulder and closed her eyes.

“Now, darling, let’s not be that way.”

“No. Let’s. Because I think I’m close… I just need…” She opened her eyes and smiled ruefully. “I don’t golf.”


Patricia’s jaw tightened. “I don’t golf. The previous mayor did, and the one before him. I don’t smoke cigars, either. So Daddy won’t be able to run into me at the club. So isn’t it lucky that once the Dugan family lost the mayor’s office, you still had an inside track?”

“That is patent nonsense, Patricia.”

“A week after I take the office, you call to wish me a happy birthday. You didn’t call when I married Jill. You didn’t call once when I was alone and scared after Nicholas left. You’ve basically ignored your grandson all these years. You didn’t even call to see if I was all right after I was hit by a damn car a couple of years ago. But now that knowing me can benefit you, well… that merits a phone call. Am I right?”

Silence from the other end of the line.

“Your daughter-in-law’s birthday is September thirtieth. Our anniversary is August the eighth. Call for one of those events and maybe I’ll believe you’re trying to bury the hatchet. Until then, you can contact me through the mayor’s office.” She hung up without waiting for a response. “Unbelievable.”

“Are you okay?”

Patricia took a deep breath with her eyes closed, and slowly let it out.

Jill stepped away and came back with her fingers wet from the faucet. She brushed her thumb between Patricia’s eyebrows, down to the tip of her nose, and then touched just under her eyes. She rested her thumb against Patricia’s lips until they relaxed enough to press a kiss against the pad. Patricia’s skin was warm to the touch, but her anger was rapidly dissipating.

“I can’t believe she would do that.”

“At least she waited a week.”

Patricia scoffed and put her arms around Jill. “Thank you.”

“Of course. Is there anything I can do?”

“You already did it. August 8, 2008.” She smiled and cupped Jill’s cheek. “Then again this past December. What kind of fool would marry me twice?”

“This one. And thrice. And whatever the word for four times is.”

Patricia scoffed. “Some teacher you are.”

They kissed.

“Your toast is burning up.”

“You need to work on your dirty talk.”

Jill tilted her head toward the stove. Patricia pulled away from her and rescued the French toast before it could be ruined.

“I was going to save this until later, but it seems like you could use a pick-me-up. Do you want your present now?”

“You mean you weren’t planning to run all over town searching for something to give me at the last second?”

“We don’t live in a sitcom, dear.”

“Aw. Then yes, I will take it now.”

Jill held up one finger and disappeared into the dark living room. Patricia plated the toast and had just taken a sip of her milk when Jill came back.

“Do you remember the artist who did the portrait for my birthday the year we met? Jana Drake?”

Patricia blushed at the memory. “I have a vague recollection.”

Jill took a framed picture from behind her back and held it out. It was an incredibly detailed portrait drawn in pencil and ink, subtly shaded but otherwise left uncolored. The medium made it look like found art, something more organic than a photograph or a painting. It showed her and Jill standing chest-to-chest, cheeks together to look out as if smiling for the camera. Michael was seated next to them, slumped forward with his elbows on his knees, also smiling at the camera.

“I didn’t… pose for this.”

“You did. Uh, technically. You know all those pictures Callie took of you during the campaign? I told her to do that so I could get one that was just right. I thought you might like it for your office.”

Patricia touched the edge of the frame, unwilling to touch the glass for fear she’d smudge it. “I love it. Thank you so much, Jill.”

“Happy birthday.”

They kissed, and Patricia looked at the image again. “This is my family.”

“Yes, it is. And if that changes sometime soon, Jana agreed to change the picture to include a baby. She called it the Family of Dorian Gray. As the family grows, she’ll change the picture appropriately.”

“Continuously changing the picture? That must have been a hell of a retainer.”

Jill shrugged. “Not too bad, actually. She was kind of excited by the possibility of creating a living piece of art that she didn’t charge me as much as she did for the painting.”

“Hopefully she won’t have to change it too much.” She heard Michael coming downstairs and kissed the corners of Jill’s mouth. “Uh-oh. Child alert. Quick, be a boring parent.”

Jill chuckled and slipped away from Patricia. By the time Michael appeared in the kitchen, a mess of uncombed hair and rumpled sweatpants under a baggy T-shirt, Patricia was placing his breakfast on the table.

“Happy birthday, Mom.” He pecked her on the cheek.

“Thank you, Michael. Is Callie taking you to school today?”

He nodded and sat down at the table. Patricia sat across from him, with Jill at her right. Jill’s back was to the window, just as it had been at the other house. She smiled at the tableau, unchanged despite the grand changes to everything around them. It was comforting to know that some things remained the same. She bumped Jill’s foot under the table, smiled at her, and began to eat.


Her assistant Simon met her in the front lobby of City Hall. He was holding a cup of coffee as he had every other morning this week. When he’d met her on Day One with a list of things she had to do before five o’clock she had responded with the information that she hadn’t even had her coffee yet. Now he was always prepared with a cup properly prepared so she could get a sip before he started.

She thanked him as she tucked Jill’s gift under her arm, freeing her hand to take the print-out he handed her. She listened with half an ear as he trailed her through the narrow halls. The offices on either side of the corridor were fronted by glass walls, giving the impression of going through a house of mirrors.

“…and finally, Mrs. Mayor… happy birthday.”

“Thank you, Simon.” She stopped when she saw twin balloons tied to the knob of her office door, delicately bouncing against the ceiling. Other birthday decorations were Scotch-taped on her windows, and she smiled when she looked and saw Simon seemed uncomfortable. “Did you help them with that?”

“Yes, ma’am. Sorry.”

She shook her head. It was tradition to decorate offices on birthdays, but for some reason she assumed it would stop when she became the boss. She was glad to see it hadn’t.

“Make sure there’s some cake in the break room by lunch. Red velvet if you can, vanilla if not. Get enough for everyone.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He sounded relieved, so she smiled.

“Don’t worry so much, Simon. My title changed, I didn’t. I’m not going to be the same kind of mayor James Dugan was. I’d have been hurt if you guys hadn’t done this.” Maybe that was an exaggeration, but since it had already been done there was no harm in it. “Did Sheriff Rucker send over those arrest statistics I asked for?”

“Not yet.”

“Okay. Give him a call and see what the hold-up is. And thank you for the coffee. It’s perfect, as usual.”

He nodded and left her to make the call from his own office. Patricia turned on the overhead lights and put down her coffee and the list of duties required before she could go home. She wondered briefly about the “special outfit” Jill had promised her, and then she looked for a suitable place for her gift. The frame could be either hung or propped up on the desk, but she felt it needed to be displayed. She found a spot the picture was visible to both her and anyone visiting her office, stepped back to see how it looked with the weak winter sun hitting it, and nodded in approval.

A living portrait. She tried to predict how it would change. Jill’s hair might get shorter; she had been talking about cutting it. They would have to add wrinkles, alas. Fortunately a black-and-white picture wouldn’t need to show their hair slowly turning to grey. Michael would grow even more, though it hardly seemed possible. She imagined one day he would be paired with someone of his own. Callie, possibly. And she was certain that one day there would be a second child in the picture.

But all of that was in the future. For now, the picture was about as perfect as she could ever have imagined it being. It wasn’t a fantasy or a best-case scenario; it was the reality waiting for her at home. All the more reason to get her work done as quickly as possible so she could spend every spare minute appreciating what she had.

She went to her desk and sat down, pressing the button that connected her to Simon’s office. “Could you get the sanitation department on the phone for me, please?”

“Yes, ma’am. And Sheriff Rucker is bringing those statistics over personally at ten-thirty.”

“Thank you, Simon.”

She turned on her computer and got to work.

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