Afternoon Delight - By Mia Zachary


TO: Rei Davis

FR: Phoebe J. Hollinger

RE: Are you busy?

If you don’t already have plans with Darren tonight, do you want to get together?


Hollinger/Hansen: San Francisco, Tokyo, London, New York

Diversified Financial Services, Individual Client Commitment

TO: Phoebe J. Hollinger

FR: Rei Davis

RE: Tonight

I don’t have any plans. Derek took me to The Top of the Mark last night. (Keep your I-told-you-so to yourself, though. The irony that was not lost on me.)

I finally broke up with him. (Keep your I-never-liked-him-anyway to yourself, too.)


Unified Family Court, 400 McAllister Street, San Francisco

All kids need is a little help, a little hope and somebody who believes in them.—Earvin “Magic” Johnson

RE: Single again

I told you The Mark was a weird choice for a date.

That’s where sailors had their last drink before shipping out to the Pacific in WWII.

Well, I’m sorry it’s over but, hell, I never liked Derek anyway. Like the other men you’ve chosen, he was opinionated, self-righteous and argumentative. You shouldn’t date lawyers.

When are you going to admit that I’m always right?


RE: Already over it

Nice ego there, honey. You should have that checked.

And I told you not to say I told you!

I’m not as sorry as maybe I should be. Then again, it’s not like we were serious.


RE: You can’t be serious

Never had sex with him, huh?

I think one of our Break Away Nights is in order. I heard about this new place, Divas. Thursday night is Ladies Night so there’s bound to be great people (by that I mean men-who-are-not-lawyers) for you to meet. I’ll pick you up at your house at nine.


RE: Break Away Night

Is that my nine or your nine? Because my nine is actually nine, whereas your nine usually means ten. So why don’t we say eight? That way we’ll both be on time.

Recess is almost over. See you later.


SUPERIOR COURT Commissioner Rei Davis clicked the button to send the message to her best friend then signed out of her e-mail program. Turning her chair, she gazed out the small grimy window to the French Renaissance facade of the War Memorial Opera House across Van Ness Avenue. She’d never actually been to an opera or even listened to one to find out if she liked it. Something else to add to her Life List.

Life. The word had a wonderful feel, one that spread through her like bright rays of sunlight through cloud. She’d just gone for her checkup with Dr. Solís this past Monday, April seventh, one year to the day…. She was blessed to still be alive and she knew it.

As she heard the outer door to her chambers open, she turned to see Mary Alice, her court services clerk. The petite older woman held an armful of case files, a harried expression on her kind face. “They’re ready for you, Commissioner. Five walk-ins were just added to the docket, including a case that was transferred from Judge Shuford.”

She schooled her expression, repressing a sigh. She’d already handled thirteen cases before calling a recess for lunch. Now the afternoon caseload would either run late or have to be rescheduled.

“All right, thanks. I’ll be right in.”

Once upon a time, she really had been quick-tempered and over-ambitious, an impatient and obsessively ambitious corporate law attorney who treated everything in her life like a merger or acquisition. Then she’d discovered a lump in her right breast that irrevocably changed her life…

Despite a partnership being well within reach, she had quit her lucrative position with the law firm. Instead she’d accepted a position as a referee, a Family Court officer appointed by the presiding judge to hear cases that involved juveniles. She’d been given a second chance and wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. She’d thrown herself into the job and three months later applied for one of the vacant Court Commissioner slots.

Family was the thread that wove together the fabric of society, the backbone of civilization. On a good day, she was proud to help maintain the family structure by approving adoptions, resolving custody disputes and returning kids in foster care to their homes.

Lately, however, she felt tired and disillusioned. The docket before her made it easy to believe the backbone of civilization was twisted and crumbling beneath the weight of crime, abuse and neglect. There were too many days when she felt like all she could do was shovel sand against the surge. But life was precious, especially the life of a child who had so much ahead if only someone gave them a chance.