“It’s me. Who are you?” Brad stopped pacing as his eyes focused on the house next door. The large maple tree between his home and the next was a skeleton of black branches. “This is a neighbor of Lana’s. Is she there?”

“She’s still at class. No, wait, she just walked in. Lana, some guy is on the phone for you. Gretchen and your mom called earlier too.” Her heart raced as Lana took the phone from her roommate. Her sister almost never called her when she was at school. “Hello?”

“Lana? It’s Brad.” There was silence on Lana’s end of the line as she pictured him. She thought about his unruly reddish-blonde hair with the sweetheart hairline and little boy cowlicks. His eyes were definitely his best feature and it wasn't just the unusual blue-green color that intrigued her. It was all the emotions that ran through them. He had very expressive eyes. His eyes were just like his voice and right now there was something she didn't understand in it. This was not the Brad she knew. This was someone else.


“I’m here.” But it was such a small still voice. “You have bad news don’t you?” Tears tumbled down her ivory cheeks. Brad pictured her glorious dark red hair and her subtly captivating soft green eyes. “I’m afraid so. I heard Chelsea telling you that Gretchen and Gloria called. Did you get a chance to talk to either of them?” She shook her head even though she knew he couldn’t see her. “Lana, I’m sorry, sorry that I have to be the one to tell you this, but I wanted you to hear it from someone in our family first.”

“What happened?”

“Natalie had a miscarriage. A bad one.”

Her heart twisted as she thought of how much Dan had wanted the baby. And how Natalie had eventually resigned herself to the idea. This was going to be hard on her. “Oh Brad, that poor thing.”

“Lana…” She knew it. This was the really bad news.

“Dan is dead. He was killed in a car accident on the way to the hospital.” A huge weight pressed in on her chest. “I’m sorry Lana. I know the two of you were always close.” He thought about the portrait his brother-in-law had done of her hair. Oblivious to her roommate's worried expression Lana crumpled up into a ball on her bed. Sobs wracked her body as she thought of the tall sandy haired artist with the sensitive soul. She would never see him again.

“Lana?” She shook her head again. Brad leaned against the wall to rest his head. His eyes sought out the window Lana had when she was home. There was a naked spot above his stereo where formerly the Red Innocence painting had hung. A solitary tear formed inside the corner of his eye as he looked out at the bitter wintry night. Tonight the twinkling diamond stars were merely frozen chunks of hard bright ice.