Expiration Date

Expiration Date

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By Sherril Jaffe

In a dream, a vision--or, perhaps, reality--Flora finds herself in the Heavenly Court, where her expiration date is proclaimed: She is to die in twenty-five years. Her parents and in-laws watch from behind a low wooden balustrade, the line dividing here, life, from there, eternity where they all will no doubt be, by the time her expiration date arrives.

And now it is twenty-four years later, the last year of Flora's life, or so she believes. Her father has just died; all those behind the balustrade are, indeed, dead except for Flora's mother, Muriel. However, the Angel of Death seems to be after her, too; she has several brushes with disaster yet miraculously survives. Flora begins to wonder if her mother isn' t valiantly protecting her refusing to cross over to the other side of the balustrade so that the dream/vision won't be true.

Muriel is unaware of all this, however; she is more concerned with what life might hold for her as a newly minted widow in her eighties. She goes off to a bridge tournament where she meets a man who invites her to travel with him on the bridge circuit, and they take off across the Southwest.

Are old age and death what Flora has always thought they were? What are they, really? Is the day of her death really predetermined? Is there anything she can do to appeal the sentence? Can a mother muster supernatural forces to protect her child? If Flora lives to be old, will she be the same person she was when she was young or something new, entirely? Is it common to be in love, to live under the spell of Eros, even into great old age? Every certainty Flora has had about all this is being swept away. And then a stranger comes to her mother's door, changing everything...

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