I look down at my wedding band and pull it off my finger. The same finger Eric slid the ring on only six months before. Reaching my hand out to Elliott, I whisper, “This was his also. Take it. I obviously don’t need it anymore.”
Elliott looks at Blake for help. My brother walks over to me, gently taking the gold band out of my hand and handing it to Eric’s brother. “I think it’s time for you to leave.” They nod at us and mutter out a stilted, “Sorry.” They walk out the front door, taking the pieces of Eric with them.
“I don’t feel well.” I look around at my family. “I think …” I say right before I rush to the sink and dry heave.
“I think she needs to take something. To calm her down. To help her sleep,” I hear my mother tell them.
“What she needs is to fucking forget that the lying piece of shit ever fucking existed,” Blake grumbles.
“Why?” I say softly and then shake my head. “WHY? TELL ME!” I yell out to Blake. “Why did you tell them where I lived? WHY WOULD YOU BRING THEM HERE TO MY DOOR?” I rush at him, shoving him back, or at least trying to. My brother is a solid brick wall and holds his ground. “Why! Why! Why?” I shout over and over and over again while I pound my fists on my brother’s chest. I direct all the pain in my body into his chest, and the exertion leaves me crumpling down to the ground. Vaguely, I feel Blake’s arms go around me again, cradling me against his body as he carries me upstairs to my bedroom. But I don’t say anything. My body spent, my mind tired, and my soul empty.
I wake the next morning, my body aching, my eyes burning. I lie in my bed, my eyes blinking to take in the room
I stretch my legs in front of me, the smell of coffee making its way up to my room. “Who is down there?” I ask, knowing that Crystal is behind me.
“Your parents stayed the night and so did Blake,” she whispers from beside me. I turn on my back now, looking up at the ceiling.
“My chest feels like someone is sitting on it.” Rubbing the middle of my chest, I’m trying to get the ache to go away. I throw my legs off the bed and make my way down the stairs. The shades are closed all around the house, and the weariness fills the rooms all around us. My mother and father sit at the kitchen table with coffee in front of them.
My father’s eyes tired and bleak; my mother’s are still filled with tears especially when she sees me walk into the room. The front door opens when Blake comes in, a box of doughnuts in one hand and a bag holding McDonald’s in the other. “I didn’t know what you would feel like, so I got one of everything.” He puts the bag in the middle of the table, but no one reaches for it.
When Crystal comes downstairs, she walks into the kitchen, going straight for the bag in the middle of the table. “You didn’t get any hash browns?” she asks with a shrug, taking an egg biscuit out of the bag.
“What am I going to do?” I look around the room at everyone. “I don’t even know when or where the funeral is?” I wipe the tears away. “I don’t even know anything about him really.”
“I can call his brother and ask him?” Blake says, pulling out a chair in the middle of the table. He is just about to reach for the bag when the doorbell rings.
The blood drains from my face, scared to face whoever is at the door. My mother looks at me, my brother getting up from the table to walk to the door. He unlocks the door and opens it, finding a man with glasses standing there.
“Can I help you?” he asks the man.
“Hailey Williams?” The man asks for me, and I walk to the door.
“That’s me.” I step in front of my brother, taking in the man with the khaki pants and the polo shirt.
“You’ve been served.” He hands the papers to me. My hand reaches out to grab them as he turns and walks away, down the step to his gray Honda Civic.
“What on earth is this?” My father gets up and comes to the door, taking the papers out of my hands and opening them. “You have to be fucking kidding me.” He flips the pages over, looking up at me and then at my brother.
“What is it?” I ask, walking to him.
“You’ve been served a cease and desist letter as well as a restraining order against his wife and their children.” My eyebrows pinch together as I look at the papers and see Eric’s name. “You are not allowed to mention Eric, and if you do, they will sue you for slander.”