Sookie had gotten up a couple of times during the night… The sedatives had made her sick. So when I woke up in an empty bed I wasn’t surprised…
…Not until I realized she wasn’t in the bathroom either.
I brushed my teeth and pulled the sheets from the bed since a couple of her cuts opened up during the night.
As I made my way down the hall, I heard talking in the kitchen. Smom and Dad were both sitting with Sookie at the table. She’d pulled on a pair of PJ pants with her robe, but her head was apparently still too tender to brush her hair. I had assumed that it was the concussion that was causing her to shy away from me. As it turned out, the pain was a result of when the bastard yanked her up by her hair to use her for cover.
I kissed her on my way to run the sheets through the wash and when I came back she was putting a plate and cup of coffee at my place.
“Tell me that you didn’t get up to fix breakfast for everyone.”
“I didn’t get up to fix breakfast for everyone.” She was smirking.
“I got up because the pain killers do nothing for the damn itching. Dad was already up so he’s been keeping me company. Smom made breakfast while I supervised the boys packing their lunch. Tara used giving the boys a ride to school as an excuse to check on me. Then Alc helped me type up my official statement so that he and Pam could go handle the Director. K, Boss?”
I nodded and raised my eyebrow at her. “Are you drinking coffee?” Hot liquids are on the ‘don’t’ list.
She gave a disapproving look at her cup. “With four pieces of ice in it.”
“You would too.”
I smiled sympathetically. “Yeah, I would. Did you try to eat anything?”
“A little… testing the waters. So far, so good.”
I reached into the fridge and grabbed the jar of preserves. It was sticky on the outside… Ew. “The boys?”
Sookie started laughing at the disgusted look on my face. “I guess so.” She took it from me before I had the chance to get up and rinsed it off in the sink. “They laughed all through breakfast because Alc snarled at them. I’m not supposed to tell you that he tried it and liked it.”
My Id did a little happy dance, but I stayed on track… “So who else has checked on you this morning?”
“Laf & JB called… Had acted like she was going to cry… Pam stared at me with that ‘sorry for you’ face. I hate that. And Quinn was as awesome as one can expect.”
Fuck stain. “He called?”
She shook her head. “I called him… to let him know that Malcolm is taking my classes over until I come back next Tuesday… Quinn gave me a hard time and called me uninterested… he ‘knew’ my devotion would suffer when he found out about you. I didn’t get around to telling him that anything was wrong with me.”
I snorted at his grasp of ‘grown up stuff’. “What do you get him for Christmas? Legos?”
She giggled. “Of course not…. Too many small pieces… He’ll probably come by later once the rumor mill gets to him.”
“I had an idea.”
“A couple of them…”
“Am I going to like either?”
“One of them, you’ll really like.”
“Fine tell me the one that’s going to make me cranky first.” Bracing myself.
“I want to go to the morgue and have you take my picture on a slab…”
“WHAT?!?!?!? Are you fucking kidding me?!” That has to be the most morbid- not to mention repulsive- idea… just imagining it made me ache…
Her eyes widened while she waited for me to settle down and Smom and Dad did their best to be invisible. “I think that Pam could have some real fun with Bill… if he thinks I’m dead and that deCastro was feeling chatty… It could get a wealth of info that deCastro can’t give y’all now. He’s been mind fucking me for long enough…”
I couldn’t argue with her logic. As sick as it made me, she was right. Killing deCastro was an emotional reaction, not a rational decision. All of us fired a shot for the wrong reason. “I won’t take the pictures. I don’t ever want to see them. Understand?”
She nodded. “I’ll have Alc take them. Pam is still feeling really guilty about getting there too late.”
Good. She should feel guilty. “Tell me the news that doesn’t depress the living shit out of me.”
She went to the living room and came back with her laptop, opening it and setting it in front of me. “I made our reservations.”
“For next weekend?” I was looking at a reservation confirmation for 3 nights at ‘The National’. “Where is this?”
“Miami?” What a brat! When I suggested hiding in a hotel, I was thinking Shreveport… Baton Rouge… Not Miami…
She smiled and nodded. “We can leave Friday morning and fly back Monday. Our room has a view of the pool and there’s a late season tropical depression gearing up to be a tropical storm down there, right now they’re getting 4 foot waves, but by the weekend they’ll have 8 footers.”
I kind of had the feeling that she was making this more of a vacation than a break because of yesterday. I couldn’t really blame her. By Friday, we’ll both have had to explain the drama a hundred times and relived the guilt and embarrassment every time… “That’s sweet, but you aren’t going to feel like surfing. The point of going away is to get time together, not time alone.”
“Even if I’m not up to surfing, I’ll paddle out and body board back… the salt water will do wonders for my cuts. But don’t bet on me not feeling like surfing.”
“Are you sure?”
“If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have made reservations… The concierge is waiting for you to call him to let him know about the kind of board you want.”
“You were harassing the concierge already?”
She smiled really brightly. “NO!… Ok, I was… I needed to make sure that in-suite safes are available. I can’t picture you surfing in a shoulder holster.”
I raised my eyebrow at her. “The surf boards just came up, huh?”
“Shut up… I asked him about a shop in the area that I could call and have them deliver what we wanted. He said he’d handle it.”
When I realized I was being handled, I gave her a dirty look.
“You’re handling me.”
“No, I’m handling US. Both of us would be lying if we said yesterday didn’t scare the shit out of us. I feel guilty for putting you through that. You’re already on the guilt bullet train… We need to go fuck off. Have some fun that’s just ours.”
Point taken. I leaned over and gave her a kiss… “Can we stay that long? The plastic surgeon wanted to see you for a wound check on Monday.”
More smiling… “That was the first call I made. My appointment is for 1600 hours and we land in Shreveport at 1330. That gives us plenty of time to come home and then go for my check up. And if it’ll make you feel better, we’ll go see Amy Thursday afternoon before we leave.” It probably would make me feel better…
“So while a normal person would have taken a Percocet to help them sleep through the itching of a hundred cuts and pain from a dozen bruises and fractures, you planned a mini vacay, wrote your statement, made arrangements for your sub, and a doctor’s appointment… What else?”
“I faced and tweeted so my kids wouldn’t worry. And I ordered a couple of bathing suits for us. Made a grocery list and called about the new hot water heater. The Percocet is too strong. I took an Ultram because it’s milder, I know it doesn’t upset my stomach because that’s what I take for my wrist and it doesn’t knock me on my ass.”
I smiled at her, shaking my head. “I want you to sit still for a little while, even if you’re just doing it to pacify me.”
“When you’re done eating, I was hoping you would help me with my shower and then we can lay on the couch and watch a movie until Alc can get home.” Thank God.
While I finished my breakfast, I surfed through the different tabs Sookie had left open for me… The hotel website… The google map showing that our room (at least the wing our room was in) was literally walking distance from the ocean… A ‘wavecam’ showing a live feed of a group of lucky jobless fuckers riding decent swells… I almost forgot what we went through yesterday just looking at the pictures… Damn her smart, sexy, always right ass.
I was watching… hypnotized when Marnie came down for breakfast. She leaned over and gave Sookie a peck next to her ear and gave and got her ‘good mornings’ before she noticed what had the bulk of my attention.
She laughed a little. “Is that like meditation for you or something?”
I barely looked up at her. “Yeah. I guess so. Sookie’s kidnapping me to Miami this weekend.”
“Y’all can just pick up and take off like that?”
“We already have the time off. I’ve technically had all week off to transfer, but we’ve been working anyway.”
“Shit. Must be nice to have a private plane.”
Sookie giggled in spite of the comment sounding catty and ringing with echoes of the ‘old Marnie’. “We only use the Global-Com United plane when the whole family is going somewhere, like when we do spring break. It costs 10 grand to fill the tank and since it’s an international company… it’d kinda look bad to the European subsidiaries to waste all that fuel for two. The Green Movement is really big over there…”
I had stopped chewing mid-mouthful when she said ‘Global-Com United’… holy shit! It was one of the biggest multinational corporations based in the states… Pharmaceuticals, media, computers, communications, sports teams… Holy SHIT!
I stared blankly at my father, who was staring back… both stunned. Marnie (old Marnie) had gotten hung up on the money aspect… “Still, having that money sitting around for stealing weekend trips…”
Sookie smiled at her, I was thinking about slapping her since it worked before, but Sookie smiled. “The only money of Tom’s I’ve ever touched was to pay his bills. I’ve never even touched my trust fund. My tuition was covered by my scholarships and I waited tables for spending cash while I was at school… Every penny I spend is money I earn…”
“You spent like 50 grand yesterday.” OH MY FUCKING GOD! My mouth dropped open when I looked at Sookie.
I was almost pissed when she glossed over it. “I earned it. The trust fund from my grandparents has never been drawn from and I use some of the perks from Tom’s estate, but never the cash. I swear.” I knew she was talking about the money she’d made from writing the books, but I hadn’t mentioned it to anyone.
“Did you wait tables in college or dance on them? Teachers don’t make that much.”
Oooh… Marnie was about to get a haymaker for breakfast… Sookie was still smiling as she grabbed another plate from the oven and set it in front of my surly sister. Blood sugar. Hint, hint. Bitch. “I wrote a couple of books. They sold well… You know what? Do you and Smom have your passports?”
“No. Why would we need them?”
“Because… the three of us should throw a dart at a map and just take a girls’ vacation this summer. Y’all can pick.”
Smom was stunned at the suggestion, and Marnie actually seemed to be wilting out of combat stance. “You’re kidding right?”
Sookie shook her head. “Not at all. It’ll be a great way for us to get to hang out without all these guys around… Got any ideas?”
I watched in awe… it was working…
Smom was smiling like a lighthouse. “I flew out to meet Jim while he was deployed once… We were in Civitavecchia for a few days, that was nice. Oooh, but the pictures that Jim took in Paris… They were some kind of beautiful.”
Sookie smiled at her. “I loved Paris. That’s where I went on my honeymoon. I almost didn’t want to come home.”
Marnie looked like she smelled shit, and I think it was the first time we’d ever gone sour at the same time… Sookie got up and left the room only to return with a photo album. FUCKING WONDERFUL! That’s just what I needed to fucking see was pictures of the honeymoon she spent with her rapist and attempted murderer.
She handed the album, thick with pictures, over to Smom… “I spent 3 days in the Louvre… Went to mass at Notre Dame… Took a show at the Moulin Rouge… It was phenomenal.”
Smom leafed through the album for a few minutes while I pouted. Yup. Like a brat. I pouted. Sookie answered the occasional question about the ‘wheres’ and the ‘whats’… Dad helped with a few since he’d been…
“Sookie, why aren’t ya in many of these?”
She giggled. “I was… I did my sightseeing alone.”
“Ooh… Did Bill not have fun?” Who the fuck cares?
“You could say that.”
Sookie was trying to evade, but Smom waited, wanting the explanation. I wasn’t sure if I was having a ‘good for Smom’ moment or if I was going to hate the answer…
“Someone told you I was raped, right?”
Smom looked sucker punched as she nodded.
“It happened in the fall of my freshman year. Everyone in my family was sure that it was Bill, but there wasn’t any proof since I was attacked from behind and knocked out… I didn’t love Bill. I didn’t even like him. I kinda just married him in the twisted hopes that he’d realize that we weren’t right for each other and then divorce me… I crashed and burned the ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’ thing… Anyway, we were on the plane on our way to Edinburgh… Bill mentioned being on our way to our honeymoon to the stewardess so she politely congratulated us, and I’d had a few drinks… I was nasty and told her that he was a bastard and that if anyone should be congratulated it should be my scheming bitch of a mother since the two of them were the only ones happy about the wedding because he was useless and only married me for my money. That made him oh-so-happy. When she was gone, he grabbed my bad wrist and twisted it and told me that if I ever embarrassed him like that again, he’d make what he did to me ‘in that alley’ look like Sunday tea…”
That son of a bitch. I fucked up. I never should have put him in jail. Now I can’t kill him.
“…While he was waiting for our baggage, I ‘went to the bathroom’.” She started to giggle. “I went to the sales counter and bought a ticket for the first plane out. I left him in the airport in Scotland. I had his credit cards and his passport in my purse… I spent 2 weeks in Paris having the time of my life while the Scotland Immigration Officers put him back on the first plane to the states and he had to sit at LaGuardia for a day and a half while they straightened everything out since he didn’t have any ID.”
All of us were smiling at her by the time she was done telling the story… I should have known that she wouldn’t just whip out pictures of Bill… especially not now… it did make me wonder how he made her ‘pay’ for ditching him… but I quickly decided that not knowing was better.
But Marnie was on a roll… “Did he make good? When he threatened you about embarrassing him?”
Not backing off… “How bad?”
She shrugged. “A few cracked ribs, some bruises.” She shrugged?… Like it was no big deal… like hitting her, breaking her ribs was the equivalent of forgetting to stop and get milk. “So… Paris? Don’t limit yourself to Europe… Australia, India, Egypt… Eric and I haven’t talked about ‘us vacations’ for the summer yet, but we have our spring break thing and I have to go to Rome and London for the Foundations of Government Fellowship in late June… other than that, I’m open.”
…And she completely glossed over it… she was backed into a conversational corner, forced to talk about being abused and numbly mentioned it like it had happened to someone else and then changed the subject… I didn’t care that she considered herself in control, if Compton had any control over himself… I should have ‘accidently’ shot the mother fucker… Of all the times that we tend to get interrupted, I was so happy that the phone rang that I would have to thank whoever called. Otherwise, I probably would have sat there and tried to analyze her all day long.
I probably jumped at the phone to avoid looking like a retard in my shock.
“Hello?” It felt weird to answer the land line…
Rude bitch. “This is Eric.”
“Let me talk to my daughter.”
I put my hand over the receiver. “Sookie… Hon, it’s your… It’s Sheila.”
She shook her head with a raised eyebrow.
I snorted. “Sheila, Sookie isn’t available.”
“Put her on.”
“Sheila, is there a message you’d like for me to give her?”
“Yes, there is. Tell her I said to stop being a snot and pick up the phone.”
I covered the receiver again. “She’s not going to…”
She held her hand out for the phone before I was done admitting that I didn’t want to argue with her mother. She hit the speaker button and slid the phone to the middle of the table.
“What do you want, Sheila?”
“I talked to your father.”
“How unfortunate for him. I’ll have to hug him later. What do you want?”
“Do you like his new whore?”
“She isn’t a whore. What do you want?”
“She’s sleeping with a married man. What else would you call it?”
“The women Daddy takes to bed, go because they like spending time with him. It’s called dating. A whore would stick around just to maintain a financial connection to a man they have no regard for, Sheila. What do you want?”
“He told me you were hurt.”
“Too late to act like you give a shit. What do you want?”
“I want to know how you are.”
“I’m fine.” She rolled her eyes and got up to grab the coffee pot and start freshening everyone’s cups so I reached into the freezer for ice for her cup.
“He said you were in the hospital.”
“He said you were attacked.”
“I was… What the fuck do you want?”
“Did that giant beau of yours do it?”
“No. I did it to myself. Is that what you wanted? You thought Eric beat me so you called to rub my nose in it, like you used to with Bill?” She knew? She fucking knew Bill was beating her daughter WHILE it was going on? Ooooh… That fucking bitch just became the first woman I’d ever hit…
“Look… I’m not sure what possessed you to call me, but don’t do it again.” Sookie reached for the phone to hang up.
“Make it good.”
“I want to come to the wedding.”
“Why? I’m still you’re mother.”
“Staying in a motel doesn’t make it my home. The last maternal thing you did for me was push.” Wow. Ouch.
“You ungrateful little bitch! After all I did for you…” Sookie smiled and winked at Dad. “Who took you to all those competitions? Who spent thousands on lessons? Who drove you all over the country? I’m the one that found you a husband. I’m the one who cared about your future. Your father was too busy treating you like one of his pals… raising you to act like one of his whores… letting you do and have everything you felt like… THIS is the thanks I get?”
“No. I want to come to the wedding.”
“Because I want to be there.”
“Fine. I’ll make you a deal. You can come to the wedding if you can answer one question for me.”
“What’s my favorite color?”
“I’m your daughter and as my mother you feel deeply enough to insist on coming to my wedding even though this conversation is the longest one we’ve had in 10 years… Tell me what my favorite fucking color is and you can come to our wedding.”
“What fucking difference does it make what your favorite color is?”
“Because we’re so close that you feel like being with me and Eric and our family on THE most special day of my life… you should be able to answer the fucking question. Well?”
“I don’t know… red.”
“You’re seriously not going to let me come to the wedding because I don’t know what your favorite color is? What about your boyfriend? Would he pass your stupid little test?”
“Fiancé. Not only could Eric tell you my favorite color, but he could tell you which shades of it I prefer.” She blew me a kiss and that is when I realized that we were all staring at the phone. Enthralled.
“Oh… well isn’t that the most convenient thing I can imagine. You finally found yourself a fag that’d marry you!”
“Are you done?”
“How old was I when I got my period?”
“Who taught me how to roll a joint?”
“This is stupid.”
“What was my favorite TV show when I was a kid?”
“I’m not playing your fucking game.”
“What’s my degree in?”
“This is insane!”
“What’s the only class I ever failed? Where did I go after prom? What was my first concert? Other than blonde, what colors has my hair been? How many piercings do I have?”
“I DON”T KNOW! Who cares?”
“Sheila, no one really cares about the answers. I care that you don’t know them. All four of the horsemen and Jas can answer every fucking one of those questions and Eric and his family can definitely pass the test. That’s why they’ll be at the wedding, and you won’t.”
“Why don’t you enlighten me then. Tetchy cunt.”
Sookie dropped her head back, eyes closed. I could have sworn she was mouthing an Our Father…. “Blue AND green… 14… Grampa… 21 Jumpstreet… History & Political Science… Drawing… I swam in the hotel pool because I fifth wheeled with Jason and Sophie, but wanted to give them some alone time… New Kids On The Block… Red once and then Black with pink chunks for a while… 6, used to be 7. Two in each ear, one in each nipple and I had to take out the Nefertiti. And Sheila?”
“Just because your husband never beat you doesn’t mean I won’t. Call me a cunt again and you’ll get it.”
“And there you go… afraid of the truth.”
“I may very well be a cunt, but YOU don’t get to call me one.”
“Because it’s the pot calling the kettle black and… I hate you.”
“You hate me? Your own mother? You don’t understand! You’d have children by now and you’d understand what it’s like to have to keep them in line if you had just listened to me.”
“You mean get pregnant in high school so that JB had to marry me?”
“What’s so wrong with that?”
Sookie closed her eyes again and breathed out a heavy sigh. “Don’t call back Sheila. I don’t want you in my life.”
“But…” Sookie ended the call and went to put the phone on the charger.
“Great, now I need to get the number changed.” She came over and took my plate to the sink and started rinsing it.
Marnie’s eyes were huge. “NO FUCKING WONDER!!!”
Dad shot her a dirty look. “No wonder what?” The look lingered and was more of a warning than anything… not knowing were her outburst was going.
“No wonder she can put up with me… That’s what I’m like.”
Sookie shook her head. “No sweetie. It took me one day to put your puzzle together. There is an ocean of difference. Sheila is a militant control freak with an Easter basket full of insanities… You have one very manageable disorder. While you need people to stand up to you and let you know when you’re being a twat, a bullet would change her mind. They only way to control her is to bend to her.” …Hence her perspective on egging Bill into beating her… Fuck. Her whole life was training for being abused… Her mother trained her how to take it and her father taught her how to look past it… Fuck.
Her eyes met mine and I’m sure she could see my wheels spinning…“Sookie, don’t let her get to you.”
“Eric, promise me something.”
“If something ever happens to me… She never, NEVER comes near our kids.”
“NEVER. JAMAIS. NUNCA. MAI. NIEMALS.”
I just nodded. I wasn’t going to argue with her. I was just going to ask her to not be so… ominous. Not right now. Almost losing her was horrifying. Preparing for it… No. Not cool.
Sookie sat on the bed and checked for tweets while I went to the closet to grab my clothes.
“Sookie, did you buy new clothes for me?” There must have been 20 new hangers with jeans and shirts.
“Shit. I forgot. Yeah, just a few pairs of jeans and some Ts. If you don’t like them, we can take them back. Smom must’ve put them away.”
“Did I overstep? I’m sorry. I noticed they had your size and… You can’t ever have enough jeans.”
“It’s not that. It’s just… Weird. I’ve been buying my own clothes since I was 15.”
“Not even Smom?”
I was still staring at the hangers. “No. They’d drop me at the mall with the credit card a couple times a year and I used my own money for anything I wanted in between.” Still staring at them… I started inspecting them. The jeans weren’t just the right size’ they were the right cut. Part of me was afraid to look at the labels since Marnie dropped the bomb of how much had been spent yesterday. When I talked myself into looking I was relieved that most of the jeans were Diesel brand; a little higher end than I usually buy, but at least she didn’t drop a grand per pair like I was afraid of. I go through jeans fast; I’ve just always been hard on them. So they’d never been what I considered an investment.
I guess I was quiet long enough to worry Sookie. “It won’t hurt my feelings if you want me to return them. Promise.”
“I’ve just never…” It actually occurred to me that finishing that sentence would sound pathetic. Sookie, at my age I’ve never been in a relationship serious enough to do something as marginally intimate as buying clothes for each other. Sookie, every girlfriend I’ve ever had has had a ‘holiday shelf-life’. The type of relationships that don’t start until after Valentine’s Day and needed to end just after Halloween at the latest in order to avoid the awkward ‘what are you doing for the holidays’ discussion. Not that any of them ever went as long as February to October, just that dating season was closed from November to February. “…Thank you.”
“Intimacy or dominion?” She was so matter of fact about it, I almost laughed. It wasn’t too intimate. Not for her. Not with us. And I certainly didn’t feel like her buying jeans and Ts was her ‘dressing me’. Silk shirts and designer labels would have been an issue… Sookie’d not only taken note of what size I wear, but thought to look for 34 x 34s while she was out… it was sweet, thoughtful if anything…
“Not either, really… It’s not a bother at all. Just a surprise.” I crawled across the bed and kissed the back of her shoulder. “Thank you, really.”
Tweeting had gone on long enough. I had to remind her that the students she was keenly interacting with were supposed to be learning…
She snarled at me, but she did end up putting the keyboard away.
Normally, the sight of her naked body gave me the urgent need to put mine against it. Not today. And probably not for a while.
The smothering feeling of greed that I would probably always bend to, never build immunity to, had taken a back seat to overwhelming regret. Again.
I know I was staring. It occurred to me almost immediately so I tried thinking of her as ‘just another’.
‘Just another’ victim.
‘Just another’ girl with bad luck.
It wasn’t working.
Sookie wasn’t ‘just another’ anything. She was mine. She was mine and I let procedure get in the way of preventing… it.
Last night I was relieved when the doctors decided to put her out while she was sewn back together like a ragdoll. There would have been no way for me to watch. Give her reassuring smiles. Hear her breathing change as things got hard for her.
No way in hell.
No. The sedation might as well have been for my benefit. It gave me license to do as much as I was capable of. Fill her hand with mine and study, completely tune into, the heart monitor. Fixating my eyes and ears on something other than my Sookie becoming a human quilt.
Once we were home, dressing her for bed was sobering, but her eyes were sensitive and I hid under the veil of a dimly lit room as I helped her into her robe.
Now, in the well lit bathroom, I was hit with a ton of bricks. Each one of them carved with ‘this is my fault’.
The cuts all over her once flawless skin were now highlighted with black and blue bruises. The crease from Alc’s shot had taken on a rainbow of sickening colors.
If we hadn’t waited, the worst of her injuries would be the soreness left behind from the taser strikes. A symptom that Sookie would stubbornly ignore. If we hadn’t waited, she’d be at school right now, teaching juniors and seniors about the oxymoronic existence of the ‘separation of church and state’.
Seeing her stiffly drop her shoulders to let gravity do most of the work of removing her robe from arms… It killed me.
She eyed me in the mirror. “Is that pity?”
Disgrace, remorse, fault, responsibility… “No.”
“Then it’s guilt?”
“Then get the fuck out.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. “What? Sookie…”
“No. You aren’t allowed to do that to yourself!”
“This is my fault!”
She reached for the doorknob and as soon as the door was in motion, her hand was in the middle of my chest, shoving me back into the bedroom. “You know damn good and well that I brought this on myself!”
“Sookie! Wait…” It was too late. She’d slammed the door in my face.
I could have stayed. She could have put everything she had into making me leave and not gotten me out. But she would have just hurt herself. And that would have been my fault too.
I wasn’t leaving our room though. Not without her. If she was going to be willful enough to shower without help, I was going to stay close enough to hear if something goes wrong…
I paced for a few minutes trying to think of a way to talk to her about it. Trying to word an explanation of exactly how what happened to her was my fault.
Making the bed didn’t give me the answer.
Straightening the shoes in the bottom of our closet didn’t give me the answer.
And again, I was out of things to do while I waited for my epiphany to come along…
I sat on the side of the bed, staring at the closed door. The solution wasn’t there either.
I felt like a blind man listening for clues as to what she was doing. My mind might have been playing tricks on me. It seemed like I could tell how her shower was progressing.
The snap of a bottle spout popping opened, then a thud as it was set down. That would have been her shampoo. She does that first.
Then another bottle opening… thud… Her conditioner…
The hissing and squirting sound of the pump from her body wash… thud…
When the water shut off she climbed out. One foot and then a long wait for the other… she’d overdone it.
She whimpered a few times, more than likely trying to fasten the bra she was wearing just because of the 4 stitches that were in the top of her breast that felt pulled on by its own weight.
It was getting hard to breathe.
She hissed a few more times.
I should know better than to think that something can’t get worse because it always fucking does.
It made me cringe to hear the brush pull through her hair the first time. When I could hear her sniffling, quietly crying through the pain caused by the simple act of brushing her hair, my chest started to hurt. Not a poetic, metaphorical hurt. It felt like my fucking lungs were full of sand.
The pain eased as her muffled sobs seemed to come to an end.
Then there was nothing left but silence.
I was frozen expectantly on the bed, hoping to get to some conclusion on how to move on… together.
Nothing from the bathroom. The faucet wasn’t even dripping…
When the door to the bathroom finally opened, Sookie stood in the doorway, her body more covered than I’d ever seen. The long sleeved Eagles T-shirt and baggy sweat pants might as well have been a burka.
The pain tried to creep back in as it dawned on me that Bill was probably the last reason for her to be so cloaked. I wasn’t turning out to be any better for her than him…
“Sookie, are you alright?”
“Because you’re hurt and you shouldn’t have done that by yourself.”
“Not ‘why do you want to know?’, ‘why are you hell bent on blaming yourself?’.”
“Because, Sookie we could have stopped that from happening. Alc and I were in the parking lot. We could have stopped it, but we waited.”
“For back up.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Uh… yeah it does. He’d have shot one or both of you if you hadn’t waited. Then what?”
“What do you mean shot us?”
“He had my gun.”
I stared at her. I hadn’t even thought she’d have had it with her. “What did he do with it?”
“He dropped it when I broke his ribs.”
I was staring. “Still…”
She came over and sat on my lap and put her arms around my ribs. “Stop.”
“Sookie, look at you.”
“It’s not the first time I’ve been roughed up. I’ll be fine.”
“There’s no way to pretty this up. You were almost killed.”
“Say that it isn’t your fault.”
“It’s not your fault.”
“Eric, it’s not your fault.”
“I don’t see it like that.”
“I had the chance to get out of there and I didn’t listen to you. I ignored you. It’s my fault Eric. Not yours.”
I clenched my jaw… The crime was in my hesitation.
“I ran with scissors, Eric.”
“Not this time, Eric. I played in traffic.”
“I need you to say it or I’ll feel worse. Eric, it was my fault. I put the fork in the outlet. Stop being Atlas.”
“You’ll feel worse? About what?”
“Because you’re beating yourself up. I couldn’t stand it if you let this eat you alive.” She started crying again. “Eric, I did this.”
“Sookie, what the fuck were you thinking?” It felt better just asking, until I realized that my neck was soaked.
“I was thinking that I’d be fine while I was on the phone. I’m sorry Eric. I hate that I put you through that.”
I shushed her and rubbed her back since it was the only place not stitched up. “As long as you’re ok, I’m ok. We’ll be fine. I’d quit, you know?”
“The bureau. If you ever hate it, my job, I’ll find another one. I don’t want you to hate me because of it.”
“Sookie, Alc and I killed a guy yesterday.”
“Yeah, about that…”
I braced myself, worried that she might ask me to make a promise I probably wouldn’t be able to keep.”Yeah?”