My headphones are on loud while I wash dishes. I'm singing Outside. Because it's a sad song and because I can easily cover it. Kitchen Karaoke. Tuning out. Pick something. The children are watching movies with August and John and everyone is keeping their distance from me.
I'm angry. Really, really angry. First Caleb has the nerve to bring up the horses. Ben demands heaven for Jacob but isn't there to fill in the gaps and now this. Being accused of setting us up to fail? When I was twelve? What the fuck. I don't even know how Loch arrived at that level of desperation.
Then his hands come around my shoulders and his head lands on top of mine, his sharp jaw cutting into my skull. He takes one of my earphones out and puts it in his ear and he begins to sway against me, keeping me captive in his arms as he reaches around me, taking the brush and the bowl I was washing out of my hands, putting them back in the sink, turning the water off. Turning me around. Pulling my hands up around his neck, putting his arms around my waist, tucking me in against his chest.
We're dancing in monophonic. We're not resolving anything falling into familiar comfort patterns but three-decade habits can't be broken overnight, oh, no. They just can't.
I pull back and look up at him. I want to tell him to fuck right off. To go away. To not do this and just let me figure out how to live but then he looks directly at me and in his eyes I see so many nights and so many stars and so much pain. I see agonizing worry. I see how he taught me to live safely, loved, in the dizzying lights and the power ballads and the blistering heat, every moment a thrill, every ride a masterpiece. Every sky brand-fucking-new, every day. Every time I fall in love with him I ricochet back to this.
I want to concede. I want to tell him he wins but I don't take risks anymore. No one gets one hundred percent of anything except for me now.
He pulls me back in until my head is cradled in his heartbeat and my breathing slows, knees weakening, hopelessness taking over in the dark where reckless abandon and sweet youth used to be.
You can't go.
I can't stay either.
Let me fix it.
I don't think you can now, Loch. It's too late.
It's not. Trust me. He brings my fingers up to his lips and stupid hope inside me surges forth, as if it's going somewhere. It should know better by now but that's the thing about hope. It's a promise of change.
There's twenty of us and one of him, Bridgie.
Yes but he's Henry's father. And he's the Devil too.