The dim of the wailing guitars comes to an abrupt halt when I open the door. Today the room seemed to be filled with a haze, like dust, serving to further obscure my view of Cole, who likes to lurk in the shadows and making Jacob positively radiate as his favorite place in the room is the warm one, right in the center where the light pours in from some invisible hole high up in the center of the wall. I always visit early in the morning so that the light is best. When I have ventured down there late in the afternoon or overnight it's very frightening. I get distracted by that. Fear has a way of overtaking even the most prolific need.
He smiled at me, that lazy wide grin with his big chiclet teeth and strong chin. He shook his hair out of his eyes and said I looked beautiful and once again asked me to let them go and to close the room off, with concrete, the same way I built it, ragged nails mixing sand with water until I had a fortress that would keep out the enemy.
I made a mistake. The enemies are fear and death and that's precisely what's in that room.
I nodded sympathetically and said no.
Wait. I'll make you a deal, Jacob.
I'll listen. He says it slowly, as if speaking to a child. Wait, he is speaking to a child.
Come back with me because the charade is over. You're not dead and I will be better if you just come back. I'll close the room, because we won't need it anymore. I smiled, sure that I could charm him with the fragile beauty he grew to love so.
What about Cole, Bridget?
He's dead. He can go somewhere else. See, I have proof that he's really there.
What is the proof?
I was there when it happened.
And you don't believe in my death?
No, I think you got scared and I know you're still alive. You're my Jacob. You wouldn't have done what they told me you did. You didn't believe in that.
A desperate man is capable of so much, princess. Look around you.
It was a warning and I studied his face. The face I have stared at for days on end before because HE wouldn't leave. HE couldn't stand to be away. HE had to be within reach at all times. To keep me alive because I do believe in hasty exits from unimaginable, imaginary pain.
That's why he is still alive and he's out there somewhere in physical form and I keep mixing all my values with shock wondering what the catalyst will be to bring him home and then I hit on it this morning as I skipped down the dark and lonely path and my breath caught in my throat when I realized.
The promise was designed to keep me safe. The promise was created to keep the secrets. The promise was the key to everything. And so I'll have to break it, and when I break it Jacob will come back and he'll be pink and warm and breathing deep and evenly and I can be safe again.
Because he promised. And if he can break promises then so can I.