Alma gasped, the shrill sound of the cell phone ringing had startled her.  The vibration alerted her to its location in her pocket.  Twisting to pull the phone out to see who could be calling at this hour, Alma looked at it for a moment trying to remember putting the phone there.  She couldn’t.
It sounded again, the vibration in her hand made her grasp it tighter.  The name ‘Sheriff Paul’ in bold letters light up it’s screen.
“What could he want?”
Harlan had shut off his own phone at the start of the last round of chemo.  The diagnosis was out.  His term as mayor was completed. He’d even resigned as pastor.  None of that told her he had given up fighting until he shut his own cell phone off.  He was retreating.  ‘Preparing others to make decisions without him,’ he’d told her when she’d discovered the fact.
The doctors had warned her that he might make some drastic decisions, behave out of character.  That she herself might make some, and that neither of them might be prepared or able to immediately accept those actions.  He had.  Shutting off the cell phone wasn’t’ the first or last.  It was just the one that told her he had stopped fighting.
The people, friends, colleagues, church members, none of them were deterred by Harlan’s withdrawal.  They had just taken to calling Alma.  Telling her they would like to speak to Harlan.  She had told Harlan that was what would happen.  He didn’t listen.  She had been right.


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