Where You Go
Chapter 31

Copyright© 2011 by Robert McKay

That night I got home late again, and the next morning I slept late again. When I got up I felt listless and logy, as though someone had shot me full of water just under the skin. I moped out into the living room and picked up my book. I was just about done with it, even with the things that had been going on, but I couldn't concentrate.

I got up off the sofa and went into the bedroom to get dressed. I hadn't seen Cecelia, or heard her, and there weren't any notes anywhere, so I figured she was in the shed. I'd seen that Darlia's door was closed when I'd come in the night before, so I knew she was back, but I hadn't seen or heard her either. No doubt she was with Cecelia. I wound up putting on everything but my boots and hat, which were in the living room. I went back in there, and put my boots on. I wasn't planning to go anywhere, or even step out of the house, but for some reason I felt better when I was dressed.

I still couldn't read, so I wandered into the kitchen and grabbed a Coke. While I drank I poked around in the fridge and the cabinets. I found a can of Pringles sour cream and onion chips and took it into the living room. I popped it open and began eating, trying again to read. This time I was more successful, and I was just a few pages from the end when I heard the back door open, and Darlia's feet thudding on the kitchen floor. She came charging into the living room and into my lap.

"Hi, Daddy!" she squealed. One of these days I've got to sit down and figure out how that raspy low voice manages to squeal.

"Hi, 'Lia. How y'all doin'?"

"I'm fine, Daddy. How you?"

"Well, I've been better, but I've been worse too, so that's all right. Look, Darlia, I gotta apologize. I was pretty mean to you the other day, and I'm sorry."

Her face was now serene. "That's okay, Daddy. I was mad, but I love you and I'm not mad now."

"I love you too, Weightlifter. Why don't you gimme a kiss?"

"Okay!" And she did – and it was sloppy as usual. She sat in my lap while I wiped it off, laughed at me, and jumped down. "I'm gonna go get a bath!" And she ran off.

Cecelia came into the living room then, and sat down in her rocker. She doesn't like hugging and kissing while she's sweaty, and without thinking about it – or realizing it, even – she tends to keep her distance from me until she gets a shower. "I heard what you said to Darlia," she told me. "I appreciate that."

"Shoot, C, it was the right thing to do."

"I know that. And it does not decrease my appreciation."

I put the lid back on the Pringles. "I don't suppose it does." For some reason my temper was flaring up, and there didn't seem to be anything I could do about it. My next words popped out before I realized what I was saying. "Sometimes I think nothing I say affects anything you think or feel or do."

I heard her quick intake of breath as her own temper caught fire. "And just what, precisely, do you mean by that?"

"It seems like you've got your ideas, and your attitudes, and your double-barreled analyses of everything, and I'm just a study subject for you to look at and sometimes manipulate into what you want."

"You pompous ass." Cecelia has to be very angry to call me names. "It is true, as you yourself have observed more than once, that my mind is more analytical than yours. That is neither a superior trait nor an inferior one; it simply is. And now you have the cheek to upbraid me for a characteristic which I did not request, and cannot eliminate from my makeup. What on earth are you thinking?"

I rose to my feet, irate. "Well, I guess now we know what you think of me, don't we? What a wonderful way to start the day after a truly blessed night." I grabbed my coat and slammed my hat onto my head, and went out the door, banging it shut behind me.

I got to the sidewalk and stood irresolutely. I didn't want to walk, and didn't know where I'd go if I did. Somehow everything was falling apart. In just a couple of weeks I'd gone from a happy man to one who stood on the sidewalk with the world crashing down in corrupted shards. I felt like just one more thing going wrong would drive me insane – and what made it worse was that so much of what had gone wrong was wrong with me. I knew that, and yet I couldn't see how to undo it. I clenched my fists, and felt a tear spill out of my eye and run down my cheek, chilly in the winter air. "Why me?" I whispered – the perennial cry of the human being who seeks someone, anyone, to blame for his troubles.

I felt a touch on my arm, and when I turned Cecelia was standing there, in her damp sweats without a jacket. Her eyes were extra bright with the tears that stood in them. "Darvin, what is happening to us?"

I bit back a sharp retort and answered as calmly as I could. "I don't know, Cecelia. I wish I did..."

"It is not your fault, and I do not blame you – but it all began when you determined to investigate your friend's death. Something has gone terribly wrong with that investigation ... with that decision. And we've got to correct it, my husband, before we tear ourselves apart."

Suddenly I wasn't angry anymore. A tremendous melancholy overtook me, and I felt like I was going to drown in sorrow. "I know ... I don't know what's happening. I get mad, and I get sad, and when I try to overcome the sadness I just wind up mad again. It's like the whole world has turned to a sewer around me and I can't find a way out."

"May I say something, Darvin, which you might find offensive – without you taking offense?"

I looked into her face. She was in as deadly earnest as I'd seen her in seven years. Not since we'd almost destroyed our marriage with uncontrolled anger had she ever been so serious ... nor had she ever needed to be – until now. "I ... Cecelia, whatever happens, I at least promise I won't blow up at you."

 
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