I see Hailey just nodding, but her eyes never leave that brown fucking bag. Crystal drags her away from everyone and walks into another room. Frank comes over to me, extending his hand. “I’m …” I grab his hand, holding my other one up to stop him from the speech.
“I know,” I say, and he nods at me. We all know.
“If there is anything that you guys need, let us know,” he says, and that is the way it is—firemen, cops; it’s all family.[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
I don’t have a chance to say anything because Crystal yells my name, and I rush into the room where they disappeared.
I pick Hailey up, waiting for someone to say something, but I know she’s in shock. She has to be in shock. This morning, she got up with her husband, probably sat at the table as they made plans for the night or even the weekend, and now she goes back home alone. The plans a distant memory.
“She is in shock. What do you want to do?” Dr. Arnold says. “We can keep her here, or you can take her home.”
“Home,” Crystal and I both say. “The last thing she needs is to be in a room two feet from her dead husband,” she whispers to me. I turn around, picking Hailey up and carrying her back to my truck. I drive her home; this time, the drive is even more dreadful than before.
I look over at her as she clutches that brown fucking bag so tight her fingertips are white. There is no vise that will pry that bag out of her hands.
We pull up to Hailey’s house before I even have a chance to make a plan. I jump out of the truck, open the passenger door, and unbuckle her, then help her get out.
Crystal follows us as we walk up the step to her house, their house. Eric and Hailey’s house.
I walk in and take in the house. You know right away Eric is home. He was an engineer for aircrafts and was always on the road. But when he was home, you knew right away because his things would be all over the house. A tossed sweater here, an empty mug by the couch. And now is no different. His sweater is tossed over the couch. Hailey walks over to the mug left beside the couch and picks it up.
“He just got home last night,” she whispers at us, looking up. “Maybe if he didn’t come back, he would still be here. Maybe …” She trails off in a whisper. Crystal looks at me, telling me silently to get rid of anything that shouldn’t be out of place. I know what she means by just a look and walk to the kitchen to place his mug in the sink. His laundry is draped over one of the chairs.
Crystal takes her upstairs while I try to take things down that will remind her of Eric, but I know it’s all for nothing; nothing will make her forget. I’m leaning against the counter with my head hanging down when the front door opens and my mother and father walk in.
“Where is she?” my mother asks Crystal, who has just walked back down the stairs. Her jacket is tossed over the couch, right next to Eric’s sweater.
“She is sleeping or resting,” Crystal answers her quietly. “I don’t even know anymore.” I watch her walk into the kitchen and go to the cabinet that holds the whiskey. She comes to the counter, reaching for a glass, and takes a couple of shots. My mother walks into the kitchen, placing the brown fucking bag on the counter.
“You want one?” she asks me, and I just nod my head. I don’t want just one shot; I want the fucking bottle. She pours three fingers into the glass, and I pick it up and swallow it in one shot, feeling the burning all the way down.
“How the fuck did this happen?” Crystal asks the question everyone is wondering. How in the fuck did this happen to us again? “I’m going to go up and lie with her in case she wakes up in a panic.”
I nod my head as she walks out of the room. “There is so much that needs to be done,” my father says from the kitchen table as I pour another shot. “Arrangements that need to be …”
He stops talking, or I stop listening. I think it’s a mixture of both when I pour myself another drink; this time, it goes down even smoother than before. “I think I’m going to go for a drive,” I say to them, and they nod. “I’ll be back in an hour.”
I grab my keys, start the truck, and pull away from the house. While I’m driving, my mind swirls all over the place as I pass the black-iron gate, turning left and then taking the second right. I stop as the sun starts to go down, the sky almost pink. I walk through the grass, making my way to the small little tombstone.