(Bits of my current Dark Yarn. More unraveling to come.)
Carolyn stood in the doorway, her legs frozen. Her phone sat, quiet and still on her bed. Not in the center, but on her side, where her lower back would be if she was lying there. Just where Shawn had said it was. But there was no way. She had been in the bar. The phone had been in her hand. She had heard the phone ring and the child’s voice that came through when she answered it.
“You find it?” she heard the voice behind her ask. Her breath stopped. She clapped her hand over her mouth, trying to stop whatever air was left in her lungs from escaping. Without willing it, she bent over at her waist and collapsed her knees, curling both into herself and into the ground. She felt arms around her, keeping her from sinking completely into the carpet. The arms lifted her up and walked her to the bed. She let them sit her on the edge. Her edge. She saw the phone and her body reared back. She kicked, her heels digging into the comforter, until the phone fell off and landed on the floor.
“Lynnie,” he whispered, trying to calm her. “You’re ok. You’re ok now. Come here. Come here with me,” he soothed. He eased her to her side, wrapping himself around her like a thick, weighty blanket. She always folded right into him when he held her. But tonight she couldn’t. He felt her body, tight and rigid and leaning away from him.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I know you’ve been in your head. About me. About what’s going on.”
“I don’t know what’s going on,” she said.
“Nothing. Nothing is going on,” he said, drawing long ovals on the back of her arm. She tensed, her tricep muscles bracing. He kept circling, light then more pressure. Her skin broke out in goosebumps. He continued. Her muscles relaxed under him.
“That’s my girl “ he said. “Come back to me.”
“Are you going crazy?” she said. Not wanting the answer or ready to believe the one she might get.
“No, love,” he said.
“Am I going crazy?”
“Never. Sanest girl I know. You’re the strong one here. You know that,” he said. “I’d be lost and drowned without you. Truly.”
” I heard that voice on the phone,” she said.
“If you say you did, you did. Of course you did.”
“But I don’t know how,” she said. “I need to know how.”
“Have you thought,” he started, then trailed off, quiet, touching his lips to the back of her neck.
“Nothing, love, just a silly thought. You know how I get. You all warm and soft in bed with me.”
She peeled away from him, just an inch, enough to turn in place so she could see his face. “What have I thought?”
“Nothing at all-“
“Shawn,” she said. Done being warm and soft.
He sighed. “Please don’t be angry about this. It’s probably just me. My stupid head. But, you said it was a kid. A little kid. Maybe-”
She rolled away from him, giving him her back again.
“See? I’m sorry. I’m an idiot. I can’t help it. I just know, when I’ve had my…troubles in the past, there’s something at the core. Something shaking and unbalancing me. I can’t help but think.” He held her closer. “Maybe it’s just me. Maybe you’ve been unsettled with me being sick. Looking for a way out. But please don’t. You can’t. I’m coming back. Back to you. I promise.”
“I don’t think I even want a baby,” she said.
“And I love you for that,” he said. He kissed her cheek. “Now lie still you. You’re a mess of knots. If I start now, I might have you sorted out by breakfast. He knelt above her, wringing his hands together firmly. She nestled deeper into the pillow. She wasn’t all there, not heart and mind, but she was wiling to offer him what parts of her were. He placed his hands on either side of her neck. They were muscled and expansive, wide palms and long fingers. He held them there for a moment. Slowly sinking in with more pressure. She sighed under his touch and he started to move. His hands and fingers worked, rubbing, circling, kneading, the anxious fibers of her back. She felt his fingers almost touch each other in the front of her throat. They lingered there for a moment, no pressure, just presence. As he delved deeper into her form, she closed her eyes and let herself step away from them both. Away from the things she trusted completely and the things she couldn’t quite know.
Under the bed, the phone laid in the strands of dust, forgotten after her displacing kick. It was still and silent. But the indigo light from its keys glowed steady and unstopping.