January 4, 04:42
Knox County, Maine
The house had stood on this private islet, overlooking the waters of Rockport Harbor and Penobscot Bay, since the early-1900s. Following acquisition in 1992, it was always a priority of the Huntington family to retain the architectural character of its original Renaissance Revival-style, throughout the myriad improvements and renovations. This was an intention Sophie Conrad especially appreciated after an incident with the Land Rover and the north-west side of the house. She had spent the night in an Emergency Room with a concussion and a bruised shoulder, but an entire portion of the ground-floor sitting room had to be reconstructed.
That was more than a decade ago.
Twisting her loosened hair across a shoulder, the doctor picked up two golden slices of ciabatta and set them aside. Smothered in now-melted gratings of Cheddar, Gruyère, and Parmesan, the remaining slices sizzled on the grill as she carefully placed strips of bacon atop of them.
It was a quarter to five in the morning and the family had braved the chill to watch the Quadrantic Meteor Shower from the ground floor loggia. It was tradition, along with the repeated stories and open teasing, laughing hugs and warm kisses. After tracking the imaginary line from Antares to Jupiter, the conversation turned to breakfast. With a flight just after light, she was happy to oblige.
Deftly, just before anyone could waltz in to steal a slice, Dijon mustard swirled precisely across the centre of the sandwiches to make small smiling faces. Then, the metallic clicks of an opening door heralded the entrance of the footfalls and voices most precious to her in all the world.
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