“Thank you for coming,” he said, “I didn’t think you were going to.” “I almost didn’t. You’ve been in a spiral and I was afraid of what you might do to yourself. You sounded really out of it on the phone. I’m worried about you.”
My husband Daniel is the type that keeps to himself. He doesn’t talk to any of the neighbors whereas I’ve always been outgoing. Even as a kid, I liked to get to know people so I could understand them better. Understand what they’re feeling better. I can learn so much about people by striking up a conversation…occasionally, I’ll meet someone I’d be best off avoiding…
Everyone knows something about these Crow kids. They ain’t sharing whatever memory’s hidden in their stupid collective small-town unconsciousness with me. We’re outsiders. We were accepted until now. I guess. When I needed help and to know what happened to Jenny these past few days, nobody was sharing anything to go on.
Our best friend died. When I look back and try to solve the puzzle of how this all spiraled down and how we ended up here, the logical conclusion was that it began there. His fur was yellow and his muzzle was black. We adopted him from the shelter at the start of our relationship and named him Max. As a logical man, I suppose I should have known this day was always looming over me. My husband and I awoke on that first saddest day of our lives to find that Max was not sleeping peacefully at the foot of the bed. He was lying on the gray duvet where he belonged, but he was dead. Knowing this day would come eventually hadn’t made accepting it or coping with it any easier for Daniel or myself. Max was only 6 years old, that’s 42 in dog years.
When the window tapping began, Daniel grabbed the gun from the nightstand drawer. We both sat on the edge of the mattress staring at the curtains, drawn closed for the night. “Scott!” I recognized the voice outside calling my name. I’d never forget that voice. I took the gun from Daniel’s hand and told him to hide. He looked surprised and began to protest but at the look I gave him, he stopped. I must have looked so profoundly broken. Lost. Or maybe he saw something else in me that I didn’t know was there. A strength I was unaware of. Without a word, Daniel nodded, then hid. I crossed the room to the window and opened the curtains to face my ex-husband once again.
Everyone told me: Don’t meet dates online. I’d fucked every eligible man on this coast before finally settling down. Before I met my man, my sexlife was boring as shit. I’m devoted now. No secrets. My husband knows my past, so ‘come for me,’ haters! We’re celebrating 2 years! My friend Richie, my biggest critic, accused me of “fucking every guy with WiFi and a heartbeat.” But that wasn’t true. It had to be at least 100mbps.
“I wish I could bring you home with me,” Evan said. His husband’s mouth opened. Evan imagined they’d argue and held up his finger. “Shhh. It’s better this way, Jace. You’re banished…can’t go back.” Jace glared down the hill where they met now, overlooking dust as wind carried and swirled it to eddy around them.
We were both young. I could tell he was still young enough to believe himself invincible. I spotted him moving like an elemental on the other side of the room and downed my drink. The spirits from the bar quelled my nerves and I crossed to join him. I hadn’t done anything like this before. We talked for an hour until we were both drunk. He, more drunk from love than drink. He was 22. I was 23. I will always remember the first.
I dug for what seemed like hours. Hours and hours of clawing through dirt that varied between hard clay and the sort of thinning sand that normally makes its home on river-bottoms. Silt that sifted through my hands down and away as I went. That voice: I kept hearing that voice within my head as it repeated those words to me. I tried my best to ignore it, but it was often unbearable.
I didn’t realize I was making the decision when I did. In a way, I’d blocked the whole thing out — a sort of denial. This all began months ago at the height of summer. There was a soft noise, but the sizzle of the bacon that July morning nearly drowned the sound of it out. I was honestly unsure whether I’d heard anything at all. I’m sure that you know the feeling I mean. We’ve all done it in response to strange noises: What was that? and the hush that follows as you wait to see if you hear it again.