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bench by the back door, sits her down.
 We re leaving in three days.
From her shoes he takes balled socks, shakes them out, slips them on her bare
feet.
 I don t have time for this.
He puts walking shoes on her feet, ties them.
 I ve got movers coming at eleven.
He holds her coat for her, zips it up, grabs his own.
 I ve got to get us packed. Do you hear me?
 I hear. I ve got something to show you.
She smiles, canting her head, and it s as if she s tugging a string tied to his aorta.
 Or what, you ll arrest me?
 No, but I may have to cuff you and slap you around a little. It s been a while since
I ve beaten a handcuffed suspect and I m getting a little twitchy.
 You know, if I even thought&  In spite of herself she laughs, letting him lead her
out.  You are sick.
 So they say.
It s a beautiful drizzly morning. The girls ride ahead, Alex following Jade up the
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street. Her hand nesting in his, they follow.
 Taking me to see your house?
He stops.  How did you know?
 I saw your car and stopped by once. A smile flickers on her mouth.  For just a
minute.
What does that mean?  I didn t see you.
 You were busy.
That smile again. As if she knows something he doesn t.  You should have. I could
have stopped whatever I was doing.
 Oh, no, I didn t want to interrupt.
At the house, he sees the girls have beat them inside.
 And it has such a big backyard, too. Jade says.
 Oh, yes, it s divine, Alex says in a stage voice,  just perfect for a family.
Ceridwen bites her lip and Night sighs, hangs his head,  Go play in traffic, will
you? Go on, out, out!
Jade leads Alex out,  Would you like to see the back yard?
 Oh, yes, I must see the garden site. We re all very big gardeners, you know.
Tension between them making him short of breath, he leads her down the hall,
smell of fresh paint and carpeting strong on the air. In the master bedroom he opens
a window.  Now the carpet has cured, I need to get these windows open.
Outside they can hear the girls chasing frogs in the pool.
Night feels the need to say something, anything.  The pool s a mess.
She comes to stand by him, leaning both elbows on the sill.  I think they prefer it
like it is. She shakes her head, smiles.  They re such plotters.
Lightheaded with anxiety, he speaks without giving himself the chance to think.
 They probably think I m going to ask you to live here with us when you come
back.
He watches her face and sees something close to fear. She bolts for the door.
He follows her down the hall.  Cer.
She keeps moving, hands up.  No.
He catches her on the walk, cuts her off.  Talk to me.
The girls tag after. Night barks at them and they scurry back inside, giggling. He
turns her to him.  Will you tell me what I said that was so wrong?
In her eyes, hate or something close.  Forget it.
 Tell me.
She sighs, rolling her eyes and he knows he s gotten through.  You think I m
coming back from New York to be your live-in, you re nuts.
 No, no, no&  He takes her arms,  I don t think that. He swallows, looks back
at the house, decides to settle for the truth.  Since the first time I saw you I haven t
been able to think about anything but you living here with me. Everything I did here
you were in the back of my mind. How would you like it? How would you want it?
It s like you were here with me the whole time. It s been driving me nuts thinking
about it. I can t imagine living here without you.
She looks away and back, eyes stricken.  What does that mean?
 It means we give it a year. You get Alex well, and when you come back& we see
if we feel the same.
 If we do? He can see she is afraid of the answer.
 Then no hedging our bets, no life rafts, both feet in.
She bites her lip, eyes squeezed shut.  Oh, God. She pulls free, paces, down the
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sidewalk, back.  We re both failures at that.
He takes her hand, she pulls it away.  We ve failed, that doesn t make us failures.
 We don t know we can make it work.
 No we don t. No guarantees in life. We both know that. But we have a year. I ll
write you. You write me. It ll give us a chance to make sure& of a lot of things. In a
year we ll see how we feel.
 What if we try and we can t? What about Alex, what about Jade?
 You know how they feel about it. It isn t like we just met, like we ve only seen the
sunny side of each other.
She grimaces.  Thanks a lot.
 You know what I mean. You can t even breathe without me.
She watches him, eyes making him feel translucent,  You want to do this?
 I want it, have wanted it. He watches her face, sees worry there.
 I need to think.
He smiles.  You ve got a year.
She searches his face, skeptical.  You d wait. You d wait a year for me.
 I ll be right here.
Nodding, eyes worried, she takes a breath with an expression like someone pre-
paring himself for a dive far out over rock into ebbing surf. She offers her hand and
he takes it.  Well, what are you waiting for? Show me the rest.
" " "
They write, sometimes as many as three letters a week, sometimes two, never less.
When her letters come he carries them with him through a shift under his vest. With
every movement it chafes against his skin, reminding him of her, of the pleasure
awaiting him when, during a lull, he finds time to read it. As he does he feels her
close, almost as if she were in the back seat peering through wire mesh over his
shoulder.
Ceridwen s letters are long, five pages at least, written on steel gray paper flecked
with cotton fiber. The stack of them he keeps on a table by his bed. Sometimes he
takes them up and weighs them in his hands, flipping his thumb along the edge as he
might a deck of cards.
In them she shares a parent s desolate hell. A year spent in a strange city, child
suffering. Through the anguish, the loneliness in her lines, he comes to know her. In
her letters she describes long days at Sloan, her search for part-time work, the friends
she makes among the parents at Ronald McDonald House. By tacit agreement nei-
ther speaks of what they will do when the year is up.
Piggybacked in each envelope is a letter from Alex. At first tentative, later they
come to share her fear, the pain of the treatments, the doctors and nurses she likes
and those she doesn t, how the brownies he sends help but make her sleep.
Fresh off shift at two a.m., Jade asleep, he sits at the kitchen table and writes them
each their own letter in return. In them he tells about the people he arrests. And
those he does not. He tells her about a woman in an old Toyota he pulls over to find
she has no license. He tells her about the kids in the back seat with smeared faces. He
tells her about the baby on the floor in the front, and how she cries when she tells
him about tickets she can t pay, and the defiant tone that comes into her voice when
she says she has a job and won t take welfare. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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