“Dana Gear?” The woman said.
“Yes. That’s me.” Dana said.
The woman rushed towards Dana and embraced her. Dana stared blankly over the woman’s shoulder.
“My name is Leah Arcast.” said the woman, “And I’m sorry we had to meet like this.”
“It’s fine.” Dana said. “I’ve got the certificate right here.”
“Alright.” Leah said. “Come into my office. We’ll get this worked out.”
Dana followed Leah into her office, which wasn’t too far from the elevator. Leah used a key card to unlock the door from the outside.
“It’s not much, but it’s what I need.” Leah said.
“I would have expected you to be on a higher floor.” Dana said.
“I figured I could run a company on the 10th floor just as effectively as on the 50th.” Leah said.
Inside the office, Leah sat down at a large mahogany desk. Dana sat down at one of the chairs on the other side and handed the death certificate to Leah.
“How old was your mother, Dana?” Leah asked.
“44.” Dana said.
“It says here that the cause of death was a… Pulmonary embolism?” Leah said.
Dana covered her mouth and made a throat-clearing noise.
“Sorry.” Leah said.
“You’re fine.” Dana said. “It’s just… It was sudden.”
“I’m sorry, Dana.”
Dana took a deep breath.
“Yeah. Embolism. But it was due to breast cancer.” Dana said.
“I see.” Leah said. “Her medical bills must have been very high.”
“Fucking astronomical.” Dana said. “Sorry. But they were.”
“It’s alright.” Leah said.
“That’s part of the reason I’m here. I don’t really have any family I can go to.” Dana said.
“You haven’t got any relatives?” Leah asked.
“My mother didn’t keep in touch with her family.” Dana said, “They kind of abandoned her after she got pregnant.”
Leah looked at Dana, who was staring at the death certificate on the desk..
“So. You’ve got no one.” Leah said.
“Not a soul.” Dana said. “I’m kind of at an impasse, here.”
“Well, I’m willing to help.”
“Your daughter was gracious enough to get me into this meeting.” Dana said.
“Edith always talks about you, Dana.” Leah said. “Says you’re the best roommate she’s ever had.”
“I’m glad.” Dana said.
Leah pointed to a framed poster on the wall of her office. It was a black-and-white photo of two women and three men. The only visible face on the poster belonged to a young blonde woman. The one unobscured women was in the foreground and the rest were in the back.
“See that poster over there?” Leah asked.
“Yeah. What’s so special about it?” Dana asked.
“They were a band called “Edith.” Leah said.
“Ah. I assume that’s where you got your daughter’s name from?” Dana said.
“Yep.” Leah said. “I saw that band play at the a bar when I was in college. I decided that night that my daughter needed that name. It’s a shame that my ex-husband didn’t share the feeling.”
Dana stared at the poster for about a minute.
“I never did get to thank you for helping Edith when my ex-husband tracked her down in Fort Myers.” Leah said.
“It was nothing.”
“I read the police reports, Dana. That was an ordeal I could never have dealt with.”
“He broke into our apartment. Didn’t even know who he was. All I heard was Edith yelling.”
“It’s good you were home at the time.”
“He never laid a hand on her. I didn’t let him.”
“I’m very grateful for that.”
“So. Dana.” Leah said.
“Yes?” Dana said.
“How are you planning to pay for the funeral costs?”
“At this point, I’m starting to think that a loan shark is worth it.” Dana said.
“That bad, huh?” Leah asked.
“I don’t have a dime to my name.” Dana said. “The insurance company is giving me trouble because my last name isn’t ‘Hollett‘, and any saved cash was used for medical bills.”
“I see.” Leah said. “Well, what were you hoping to do?”
“A wake and a funeral.” Dana said. “My mom had the details put in her will.”
“Alright.” Leah said. “Done and done.”
“Huh?” Dana said.
“I’ll cover the expenses.” Leah said.
“I was just hoping for a loan.” Dana said.
“Well, I’ll do you one better.” Leah said. “It’ll be taken care of.”
“You really don’t need to-” Dana was cut off.
“I may not need to, but I want to.” Leah said.
“I’m… I’m going to find a way to repay you.” Dana said.
“Don’t even think about it.” Leah said.
“I… I have to. This is going to cost something like $10,000.” Dana said.
“Dana, consider this a ‘thank you’ for helping my daughter.” Leah said.
Leah got up from her desk. As she walked to the door of her office, Dana jumped from her chair and gave Leah a hug.
“This means the world to me. Thank you.” Dana said.
“It’s no trouble at all.” Leah said. “Now, we need to make some phone calls. Let’s grab some lunch first. Then we can come back to this office.”
Leah opened the door to her office and walked with Dana to the elevator.
Three days passed.