Ray was right, Nancy thought as she walked slowly back to the table. There was a time to stop
following the patterns of yesterday -a time to stop remembering and look only to the future. She
knew that a part of her was still frozen. She knew that the mind dropped a protective curtain over
painful memories – but it was more than that.

Seven years, Nancy thought. Life was a series of seven-year cycles. Carl used to say that your
whole body changed in that time. Every cell renewed itself. It was time for her to really look ahead
… to forget.  She glanced around the large, cheerful kitchen with the old brick fireplace, the wide oak floors,
the red curtains and valances that didn’t obstruct the view over the harbour. And then she looked at
Michael and Missy . . .

She’d fled here, completely across the continent – as far away from California as she could get; as
far away from the people she’d known and the place she’d lived and the college and the whole
academic community there. She never wanted to see them again -the friends who had turned out
not to be friends but hostile strangers who spoke of ‘poor Carl’ because they blamed his suicide on
her too.

She’d come to Cape Cod because she’d always heard that New Englanders and Cape people were
reticent and reserved and wanted nothing to do with strangers, and that was good. She needed a
place to hide, to find herself, to sort it all out, to try to think through what had happened, to try to
come back to life.

She’d cut her hair and dyed it sable brown, and that was enough to make her look completely
different from the pictures that had front-paged newspapers all over the country during the trial.

That first morning here, she’d made coffee and sat by the window. It had been a clear, brilliant  day – the cloudless sky purple-blue; the bay tranquil and still; the only movement the arc of sea  gulls hovering near the fishing boats.  With her fingers wrapped around the coffee cup, she’d sipped and watched. The warmth of the coffee had flowed through her body. The sunbeams had warmed her face. The tranquillity of the  scene enhanced the calming sense of peace that the long, dreamless sleep had begun.   Peace . . . give me peace. That had been her prayer during the trial; in prison. Let me learn to  accept. Seven years ago . . .   Nancy sighed, realizing that she was still standing by the bottom step of the staircase. It was so  easy to get lost in remembering. That was why she tried so hard to live each day . . . not look back  or into the future.

Begun as a hobby, it had become an absorbing daily activity. A publisher friend had read a few  chapters of it one week-end and promptly sent him a contract. The book was a case study of  famous murder trials. Jonathan worked on it five hours every day, seven days a week, starting  promptly at nine-thirty in the morning. The wind bit against him. He pulled out his muffler, grateful for the watery sunshine he felt on  his face as he glanced in the direction of the bay.

It was timing. The whole universe existed because of split-second timing. ……….

To willingly leave yourself open to failure -to tightrope-walk across  a dozen pits so that when the act was accomplished no one even glanced in your direction -that
was the way.