“Don’t touch his things,” she tells me, looking over her shoulder. I follow her as she walks in their bedroom. The bed still fucking unmade. His work pants over a chair in the corner. His work boots right next to them. Exactly where he took them off. His bathrobe is lying across the end of the bed. She walks over to it, picking it up and wrapping it around her. She falls onto the bed and curls herself into the fetal position. Blocking herself from the hurt, she’s preventing anything else from getting in.
I watch her from the doorway till her breathing evens out. When I hear the front door open, I turn to walk down the steps and come face to face with my aunt Joanne. Her eyes red still.
“Where is she?” she asks, taking off her jacket and tossing it on the couch right next to Eric’s sweater.
“She is sleeping or resting,” I answer her quietly. “I don’t even know anymore.” I walk into the kitchen and head to the cabinet that holds the whiskey. I take out the bottle and set it on the counter. My aunt places the brown fucking bag on the counter next to the bottle, putting the mug in the sink.
I reach out to grab a glass to pour a shot in. I shoot it back, the burn going from my lips, all the way down my throat, and hitting my stomach. It warms right through me. I look back to see Blake leaning against the counter. “You want one?” I ask. He just nods, so I pour him the same amount in the same glass and hand it to him. He tosses it back without wincing like I did.
“How the fuck did this happen?” I ask the room, and no one answers me. No one even looks up. I pour another shot and immediately down it. This time with less burn. “I’m going to go lie with her in case she wakes up in a panic.”
Blake nods, so I walk out of the room and make my way upstairs. She hasn’t moved since I left; her breathing is still the same except you can hear little hiccupping sobs between breaths. I can only imagine her dreams.
I lie next to her, my eyes finding the window as I watch the sky turn from blue to black. I know right away when she is awake; her breathing isn’t the same, it’s not smooth. She’s taking deep, deep breaths now.
“Is it real?” she asks, knowing I would be here, knowing that she would be here for me. She doesn’t wait for me to answer.
“My chest hurts. My heart hurts,” she whispers the last part, and I turn to put my arms around her as tears stream down both of our faces. “Did he suffer?”
It’s a question that everyone asks. “No,” I answer as my voice cracks and a sob tries to come out. “He was already gone when they brought him in.”
“Do you think he knew today was going to be his last day?” Her questions gut me; questions I have no answers for. That no one can answer. “Do you think he knew? What am I supposed to do now?” She turns and looks at me. She searches my eyes for the answers, but I don’t have them. Her eyes close again as if she is chasing the good dreams.
“Do you want something to eat?” I ask her, knowing full well she isn’t going to eat anything. Her hand goes to her chest, and she tries to rub away the pain. “You need to at least drink something.” I get up off the bed and look over at her, giving her a moment to … I don’t even know what; there is nothing for her to wrap her mind around. Her husband is dead; half her soul is gone. I walk downstairs; looking in the kitchen, I find Blake is now sitting at the kitchen table with my aunt. “She’s up,” I tell them both as I look over at the empty whiskey bottle. “You couldn’t even save me a shot?” I look over at Blake, recognizing the emptiness in his eyes.
“I should make her something to eat,” my aunt Joanne says, and I scoff. “She needs to eat even if it’s just a bite.” She gets up, going to the fridge.
I nod, opening the cupboard to grab a glass to pour water into and then walk over to the coffeemaker and pour a cup of coffee.
“I’m going to go get her,” I tell them, walking back upstairs with the coffee and water. I’ve given her enough time by herself. “Your mom wants to make you something to eat even if it’s just toast.”
“I’m not hungry.” She turns, burying her face in Eric’s pillow. “He’s really gone?”