I place the watch gently on the counter; reaching back inside, I pull out his wallet. The worn-out brown wallet that he always kept in his glove box because he hated to carry it in his back pocket. When I open it, pieces of glass fall onto the counter. I close it and place it next to the watch. My shaking hands reach back inside and pull out a black iPhone. I turn it in my hands, flipping it over, and confusion mars my face. “This isn’t his.” I turn to look at everyone. “His phone was white.”
Crystal comes over. “Maybe it was put in there by mistake.” She stands next to me as I press the middle button, and it shows me that the battery is dead. “Here, let me plug it in, and we can see who the phone belongs to.” She grabs it from my hand, plugging it into the wall charger. I turn around and again reach into the bag. His white iPhone comes out, and when I press the middle button, a picture of us lights up the screen. Eric’s sitting behind me on the steps of our porch. He had leaned down and kissed my neck, looking up just in time for the picture to snap. My finger rubs his face on the screen as I see his sweet smile and brown eyes. My eyes close, the pain and emptiness in my chest spreading through me. “We took this picture last week after he got home. He was gone for a month this time. It was the longest he’d ever been away.” I look up at them. “How did this happen?” I ask as I look at each of them.
They don’t have time to answer because the phone on the counter starts buzzing, the vibration moving it along the counter as we all look at it. The buzzing stops when I walk over to it and pick it up. The screen black again, so I press the home button. My husband’s smile greets me once again, but it isn’t his face that I stare at. It’s the smile of the blonde who stands next to him as he has his arm around her and two children who stand in front of them. All four of them smiling for the camera.
The phone slips out of my hand, landing on the floor right at my feet. The picture looking up at us as the phone rings again. This time, the picture that comes up is that woman with the name Baby.
I look up to see my mother with her hand to her mouth and my father holding her shoulders. I bend down, picking the phone up as if it weighs more than a hundred pounds, and press the green button to talk.
“Hello.” My voice is shaky and low as I hear a child crying in the background. The woman’s trying to soothe it, but stops as soon as she hears my voice.
“Hello.” I hear a voice almost as soft as mine. “Who is this?” she asks as my hands start to shake, and I feel myself get lightheaded. My hand clutches my chest as I answer her the only way I know how. “This is Hailey.”
“Who is Hailey?” I hear her ask, but I feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience. Like I’m watching this horrific scene play out from the outside. “Who are you?” I ask. Knowing the answer to those three words was about to change my world even more than it had in the past twenty-four hours.
Three different words that take whatever may have been left of me. The phone again slips out of my hands, and my legs finally give out. My brother rushes to catch me as the phone hits the floor, the screen shattering. Crystal bends to pick it up and walks out of the room.
My head is spinning. My heart beating so fast it’s likely I’m having a heart attack. I rub my hands up and down my chest as if somehow that will alleviate that permanent crack that has formed. It feels as if someone stuck a knife right between my ribs, and they may as well have. There is no way to get over a pain like this. It’s less than a minute old, and even in my fucked up state, I know it’s a forever kind of pain. I stare blankly into my brother’s eyes as he yells my name over and over again. The blackness is back, coming to take me away. I try to keep my eyes open, but my lids are so heavy, so I stop fighting. Besides, when the darkness comes, nothing hurts.