You pray to stars that can help you get bySomeone went out and left The Grace on the stereo. Heads are going to roll right into the hole they're going to have to fish me out of when time permits because I took one step away from that song and the ground gave away beneath me. I spiralled around and around down to the bottom faster than it took me to turn around and widen my eyes at Lochlan, who dove for the knob on the receiver and missed. (He's smart enough not to reach for me, as one would think one would do when music that liquifies my mind comes on. No. Always turn the music off first.)
And all at once you forget to try
I'd go there if you let me
They're never gonna find me now
Life is a bit of a minefield in that regard, and that's why I fall in these holes. I blow up when I don't look where I'm going and fall in a hole put there by a previous explosion.
It's fine. It's better down here. I don't have to be beholden to the demon with the gun perpetually held against my skull who ruined my past and my future and has now started in on my present. It's fine because I have lots of company down here. Jake was sitting up against the wall when I landed. He winced as my cast glanced off the floor and he asked if it hurt. I said yes and he kept his face very neutral because with me hurting is better than feeling nothing at all.
He asks about Ben and I wave my hands to defer. His whole face changes to despair and I assure him Ben is doing well, I just don't try to explain him anymore.
I pull my arm up to my chest and bite my lip. Fuck, it hurts. This is not a good hurt, this is an agonizing throb and he tells me to have someone get me out. He doesn't call Lochlan by name, which means he's mad about how Lochlan isn't very good at checking music before I hear it and I think that's a bit of a tall order in a house where half a dozen people share a vast and eclectic music collection, and they try to do what everyone does, not coddle me by ignoring songs that trigger falls into holes.
I shake my head in refusal. I haven't seen him in forever and he wants me to leave? He says purgatory is getting difficult to navigate. That every time he leaves me it gets harder and harder to find his way back and he didn't think he would have to anymore but here he is and he can't explain it.
I told him that means he made a rash decision. He shakes his head. It wasn't. It was planned. Calculated. Unavoidable. Inevitable. I just made him delay it by several years.
My cast thrusts itself through my ribcage, splintering bone, cracking ribs with an ungodly racket. My hand grasps my slippery, broken, stitched-up heart and pulls it out. I hold it up to him in offering and he tells me he lost that honor when he followed through.
I don't care. Just take it, it's yours.
What about Loch?
I don't know! He'll be okay. He's resourceful. He has Ruth.
Bridget, you have to climb up now. Right now.
I can't do it with one arm.
I can help. You can stand on my shoulders.
If I touch you again I think that will be it for me.
I know. Build a magic carpet out of my letters and float out. There should be enough. Have you finished them all?
I haven't touched them.
He did one of those indignant double-takes, as if he's completely disgusted and shocked all at once. It's the goofiest thing he ever did with his face and I loved it. I realize I'm about to throw up, everything hurts so much suddenly, it washes over me, a tidal wave of memories that begins to fill the hole. I rise to the top eventually and Lochlan fishes me out by the back of my shirt. He's got a way with that, and yet all the seams are intact as he stands me firmly on the living room floor.
You could have drowned, Peanut.
Yes, I know.
You can't swim with one arm.
Jake isn't here anymore.
For you, he isn't.
Maybe you should read the letters.
He stops abruptly, biting his lip, checking himself, refusing to go any further with his attempts to force progress where progress isn't to be had, and he pulls me in, kissing my forehead, wrapping his arms around me tightly.
Your heart. What did you do with it?
I left it in the hole, Locket.
I'll go back and get it for you tonight.
You don't have to do that, you know.
No, I think I should. He nodded, more to himself than to me. Yeah. I think I should be the one to get it this time. I said I'd try harder and I will. I am, I mean.