He waits awhile to speak again. I don’t even know how long, but he must be waiting on me.
“Do you think he went to the hospital after the first explosion?”
Aaron may be a decent boss, but I am not going to tell him anything I don’t want him to know, which includes anything about Daniel’s project, my family, or Niesha. I don’t know what’s happening, but I know I am not going to say too much.
“No, he was already there. Long story. No big deal.”
Although, if he had not been there with Niesha, this entire situation would not be unfolding.
“Well, I guess it became a big deal.”
I sit upright on my own. I decide to give the glass of water another go.
“Maybe we should turn on the news.” I am merely trying to find something I can do. “There will probably be information on the Sunday morning programs.”
Aaron looks around the room.
“This place is amazing, but unless there is some hidden TV somewhere…”
“No, it’s downstairs in the media room.” I start to stand and he pulls me back down.
“I don’t think you should watch any of that, Nat.”
“Why do you keep calling me that?”
“Nat? It might have to do with the fact that that’s your name.”
“You never call me that. You always call me McClure. The only person who calls me Nat is…”
And the tears resume.
Aaron wanders off to the kitchen opening cabinets and eventually returning with a roll of paper towels. He tears one off for me and sets the rest on the table. I blow my nose before wiping my eyes.
“Look, how about if I stay here and we’ll just wait to hear more as soon as anyone knows anything. Sound good?”
“Nothing sounds good,” I admit.
“Yeah. True fact.” He looks back towards the kitchen. “I’m guessing you haven’t eaten.”
“Nothing sounds good.”
“Don’t care. I’m going to cook you food and I am going to make sure you eat it.”
He’s already on his way before I can even object.
“Days like this can be long and food must happen. How about some tea?”
“The coffee is in the cabinet to the left of the sink.”
“You don’t drink coffee.” I didn’t know he knew that.
“You drink coffee.”
“I don’t need any coffee this morning.”
I turn and look at him as if he just grew a third arm. “What?”
He smiles and keeps working.
“I drink coffee whenever I want coffee. Right now, I want to make sure you get through whatever is going to happen today.”
Again, I wonder what he knows.
“What do you think is going to happen?”
He stops his work and looks at me.
“I don’t know. A lot of things could happen today. Even if everything turns out okay, you will never look at your life the same way. Your life will change forever today no matter what happens.
“Before he left, Daniel called me. You know, he always calls me before he leaves town.”
I did not know that. I knew he called him that once. I didn’t know it was a recurring event.
“Daniel told me, back before he began travelling overseas last year, that if anything ever happened to him, I was to take you to the lodge and buy you pie. He said you would understand.”
Pie fixes everything.
I just cannot imagine that if I lose Daniel, there is enough pie on this planet. I flop over into one of the couch pillows, fold my legs at my knees, and begin to cry harder than since that full moon when Jason nearly killed me.
I cannot believe in the emptiness of lucid understanding, my mind tosses out a Jason memory.
‘Like mother, like daughter,’ my mind spews out. He’s likely been lurking in my subconscious since yesterday. Bits and pieces of my history, my family’s history, and the history of the past twenty-plus hours compete for my attention.
I don’t eat everything Aaron cooks, but he finishes whatever’s left and cleans up anything sitting in the kitchen. I don’t remember when I last cooked, so I expect any mess he finds was his doing. The crying alternates between minimal and hideous, and Aaron never objects or even appears awkwardly uncomfortable as I blubber uncontrollably.
“You don’t have to stay,” I eek out during crying fits.
No telling when we might hear something. It’s nearly midday, but I couldn’t say exactly.
“That is correct.”
I’m not certain what that answer even means. He just sits on the couch, occasionally throwing out used paper towels or fetching more water, not that the glass ever empties.
“You don’t have to stay. I can get by today.”
“How about you take some time to get cleaned up?”
“Why?” I didn’t shower yesterday. There’s a chance I am fermented.
“Just thought it might help.”
“Help with what?” I ought to be careful. His response could be snarky.
“Help just pass time.”
Perhaps he’s planning on staying a while. I wonder why he’s still just sitting here.
“Why are you here?” I know I’ve asked this already, but I don’t recall a decent answer.
I feel like some piece of information is absent and I don’t know what it could be.
“And don’t say, ‘Because the governor called you.’”
“The governor did not call me.”
“You said he did.”
“No, he called someone who called someone who called me.”
“And those someones think I should shower?”
“Just take a half hour, let the warm water hose you down, and you might feel better.”
Unless Daniel calls me, I cannot imagine anything making me feel better.
“What if Daniel calls?”
“Then I will answer the phone.” I glance around for my phone – it’s here somewhere. “Leave the phone. I will answer it.”
I nod, or grunt, or respond unconvincingly; I don’t know, but I comply. I make my way to the shower, this time allowed to climb the stairs under my own power, and I attempt to wash away the layer of uncertainty, the underlying layer of fear, the layer of family untruths, and the confusion of all of my life with one shower. Daniel designed an amazing space for us, but the shower isn’t that miraculous.
I usually shower with all the doors open, but I realize my trepidation at having someone else in my home besides Daniel led to the circumstances that trap all the heat and moisture in the bathroom. I turn on the fan to help alleviate the fog that happens to be real and not just trapped in my head.
I wander to the closet, not having planned well enough to bring any clothes with me and manage to dress myself. I’m not usually this disjointed, although if I make the effort to think back to when I last felt this out of control, I expect I’d be back in Jason territory. No matter how my life changes and improves since then, I cannot get away from the low watermark when I bottomed out my life. Today’s vibes, though, feel forebodingly similar.
NEXT: Wellness Check – Part 62