I know how you must feel, but these are bad. Bad, bad, bad, bad...
|Tomblike silence in the bedroom gripped my chest. I held my breath, listening for my husband's breath.|
At last, his chest heaved and he gasped in his sleep.
Thanks, Harvey, for holding on to life. The contrast to my nightmare brought to mind a joyful serenade. Allowing myself only a stealthy, reverent nod, I rolled off the bed and tiptoed to the bathroom.
Glinting red in the broken mirror, drops of Harvey's blood too stubborn to wash away. I lowered my eyes to the medicine cabinet.
Between my straight razor and his microscreen shaver stood the evil sleeping pills. Gently, I rolled the poison into the sink and washed it down the drain, then grabbed a slip of paper.
Harvey, my love,
You have every right to rage,
but please understand. These are
bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad
The pen stopped. I stared at the note and shook my head.
One day, you will see. This
is for the best.
My hand shook as I locked the note in the bottle and replaced it.
I blinked away the memory of Franklin's empty prescription bottle, on the bed beside his hand, only to envision Harvey's. I sniffed and shook my head.
Behind the broken glass, the cosmetics-counter girl--my real self--judged.
Had your chance, Fiona. I would not make the same mistake with Harvey.
Unable to face the idiot in the mirror, I stared at my bed. I could not yet bear, even in a dream, to lose Harvey again. I tiptoed back.
The mobile-home flooring shrieked at me as I sat facing the nightstand. I pulled on my uniform, checked my gun, and straightened the badge.
I watched his chest for breath before easing the door closed.
Staked out in the pre-dawn shadows, I watched the aging, maroon sedan registered to Dr. Feingold. I checked my fuel level, the straps on my gun, the supply of bottled water, and my sunglasses: all in order. In my cruiser, I could grab anything without looking. As minutes ticked by, I searched my thoughts for other things to inspect.
A white-bearded suspect in a worn suit waddled to the perpetrator's car and fiddled with his keys.
This dangerous quack wrote Harvey's prescription. When he pulled out, I pursued.
After the wait at the stop sign, he eased to full speed in the center of his lane. My speedometer reached a mile over the limit.
He drove with the prudence he lacked in his work. "Not going to weasel out by being a good driver." Hoping to force him to error, I drove far closer than regulation.
The wise old man slowed down and pulled to the side, to allow me to pass. The urge to ram his car cramped my legs, but I held the needle steady.
We remained in formation for several miles before Dr. Feingold signaled to pull over.
As we came to a stop, I turned on my lights. I reached for my mirrored sunglasses and turned on the flashlight.
Just before I got to his door, I put on the glasses. "Doctor Feingold."
He had his window down and his hands on the steering wheel. "Good morning, officer. May I ask, have I done something wrong?"
"You're Doctor Feingold?"
He nodded. "That's correct."
"You have Mr. Harvey Sorensen as a patient?"
He looked at my chest, which read, 'H. Sorensen.' "Helen, I presume? Officer Sorensen, may I ask: is this in regard to my driving or--?"
Lying would achieve nothing. "I'm off duty. Need to talk to you."
"You could schedule—I have been meaning to speak with you. I'm most concerned about Harvey's—"
I nodded. "That's what I'm here to talk to you about."
"I understand that. Please, Mrs. Sorensen, this is highly irregular, and inconducive to—"
"We need to talk about dissolving your relationship with my husband."
"That would be inadvisable at this j—"
"Dissolve your relationship with my husband."
"I hardly think you have the qualific—"
"These are my qualifications." I showed him my wedding ring.
After a few beats, I sighed. "I was called to talk the John MacAvoy gang down."
"That was you?" He blanched. "I had no idea."
Fifty miles away, past doctors and fancy negotiators, I traveled because nobody else could have brought them in safely. I nodded.
He paused, looked down at his hands. "Yet, nobody should try to 'talk down' their own family."
The image in my mind: Franklin's lifeless eyes, an illegible note, an empty pill bottle. "Not letting you Kevorkian quacks into Harvey's head."
"We can arrange to have another doctor present—even a peer consultant, if you prefer."
So much for 'reasonable and educated.' I had never wanted to be one of those officers, but anything to protect Harvey. Perhaps Dr. Feingold would understand this: "Bold words, from a man caught driving recklessly. Get out."
"Officer Sorensen, do I need a lawyer?"
"I don't know." I squinted. "Do we have an understanding?"
"You are asking me to violate my ethics."
"You have the right to recuse yourself."
He nodded. "Still wrong."
I kicked the door, and then stepped back. "I'm fighting for his life. That trumps ethics."
"I can see why you might say that." He crossed himself. "You know not what you're doing."
God help you if you misstep. "Let me worry about my husband."
He let out a long sigh. "Apparently, I've no choice."
A breath of fresh air. "There's no reason to keep you, then. Have a nice day; drive safe."
"Be careful, Mrs. Sorensen." He handed me his card, and rolled up his window.
As Dr. Feingold drove into the sunrise, I reached for a bottle.
My head throbbed to alert me that I pushed too far and to beg for the bitter comfort of coffee. My senses had to remain sharp, so I sipped the water and watched the traffic flow past my cruiser.
The rhythm of shots from the firing range suggested my supervisor, Sharon, had a cluster on the center mass of her target.
"Hey, Carl." He had a ring on his wedding finger. "Finally pop the question?"
Sharon passed between us, a smug look on her face.
"Got hitched last Tuesday." He handed me the sign-in sheet. "Swore you signed the card."
Slipping, Helen. Three times this week, he'd been at the range. What else had I failed to notice? "Fell through the cracks, I guess. Congratulations."
Carl smiled and winked before looking back at his paperwork. "You spend too much time here. Give someone else a chance."
I considered whether lowering my scores might inspire my fellow officers, then shook my head. My buzzer rang.
With a pivot and a jerk, I put the double tap to center mass.
"Fantastic time," Carter said. "Faster than anybody I've seen."
"I can do better." The bullets hadn't landed as close as I intended, and Carter spoke faster than normal. Precious nanoseconds down the drain. At any moment, someone's life could depend on me; I didn't deserve the kindness he extended me. I frowned at the target.
Sharon marched up to Carter and whispered in his ear, then came to me. She grabbed me by the arm and pulled me into the corner.
The room fell quiet. Man after man lowered his weapon, and turned my direction. All eyes pointed toward me.
Sharon cleared her throat. "I don't want you to worry; nobody was hurt."
My throat tightened.
"It's Harvey's store. There has—" She took a deep breath. "They had a robbery."
He worked alone today. "He's okay?"
"I should go. Ah, no. If he wants me, he'll call." I raised my chin a bit, to project confidence.
Sharon nodded, chewing on her thoughts. Finally, "Go home. I'll get you covered."
We'd debated which hurt worse, giving or getting this news. To let her off the hook, I smiled. "Thank you, Sharon."
Painful silence hung in the room as they watched me walking out.
My late father's voice echoed in memory, "Can't even protect your own husband. Time was, an O'leary cop did better." Oh, I know: he never said those things. He'd look at you, a longing in his eyes. It soaked into your bones. I wished he could come back, to stare at me, to lift the burden of self-discipline. As Fiona, I had prevented that, too—I ruined everything.
Once the door clicked shut behind me, the drumming thunder resumed.
Sharon let me off early, but I did not want to embarrass Harvey. I did not belong at the scene; another officer had his back. At that moment, my place was in the kitchen. I busied myself making him a sandwich.
The key turned in the door. "Honey, I'm home." Shoulders square, chin up, he stood.
Like a soldier returning home; his weary eyes showed me none of the comfort that pose should give, just the desire to hide his human side.
The urge pulled me to hug him, to tell him I loved him. Better to respect his privacy. "Oh? I thought you worked till midnight."
"Bit of drama." At my approach, tired but ever reserved, he shrugged, looked around the room, and shuddered. "It's nothing, really."
He had to be replaying the last few hours. "Are you sure? It doesn't seem like nothing."
His deep gray eyes studied my features. I hoped I had used enough concealer on my chin to hide the bruise. He should be worried about himself, not the dangers of police work.
Hoping he would take the hint, or give me any excuse to talk, I shared his gaze.
He pulled himself together and managed a smile. "Really, I'm okay. Syd sent me home with pay." He failed to close his mouth.
The silence ached; he still had more to say. If he would open up, I could say what he needed. Meaning to hug him, I grabbed his shoulders and instead found myself holding him at arm's length, watching and waiting.
He needed me to let him go. I could help him there. I smiled. "Attaboy. Keep your chin up." Hoping my praise would do something for him, I nudged his jaw with my fist and leaned in for the kiss.
He stepped back a half step, and his fingers fluttered as he studied my face again.
A twinge of inexplicable sadness on his face made me wonder; how had I failed him this time? Without missing a beat, I turned back to the counter, to slice a pickle for the sandwich. "That Sydney sounds like a great boss; we should send her a card on the sixteenth. I've been making sandwiches. You want one?"
He sighed. "I've lost my appetite."
I know the feeling, in your gut, when somebody pulls a gun on you. I wanted so to reach out, to make it go away, but Harvey had to do this himself. He did the right thing. "Suit yourself."
He walked toward the living room.
I finished the sandwich and cut it in half. If he wanted to avoid the subject, I could do that. "We've got some decisions to make, though: bills and the like.”
"Do we have to?" He dropped into the overstuffed recliner in front of the TV—the place where he goes to hide. "Not in the mood right now."
He reached for his CD collection instead of me. Under the false cheer, a hard note rang in my voice, "You always say that."
"It only gets harder when you wait." I stepped beside the recliner, and stood over him. "Jump right in, I say."
His jaw muscles tightened.
I leaned over him, smiling and projecting the calm that he needed.
"Please, give me some space! I have some issues."
"Oh, don't be such a Gloomy Gus!"
His fists balled up. He straightened his fingers, relaxed his jaw, and slowly stood up. "Helen, please? Not. Now."
"Ah, you can do it, Harvey." I grabbed his upper arm, trying to drag him, kicking and screaming, out of the deep end.
He swung at me, to slap me.
In a blink I had his hand behind his back, pushed against the pine grain paneling, my nose in his neck. Oh, thank God. Maybe he can let off some steam. "Getting better. One day, you'll land one."
Still pinned, he groaned and shook his head.
"Always pulling your punches, that's your problem." I patted him on the back and let him go. Turned him, so we could talk, eye to eye. "Don't be afraid to hurt me. I can take it, really. Whatever it is." I raised my eyebrows.
He did not even look in my eyes as we waited. He pointed at me and waved his finger under my nose. "I'm going to bed. Do not talk to me." He picked up the CDs, choosing "Simply Serenity" over me.
I cringed; he would soon find out I destroyed the CDs. I cracked open a Heineken from the counter, leaned back and shrugged, trying to appear casual as the left side of my smile faded.
His face flashed love, then rage and contempt.
Within thirty seconds of the door clicking shut, he growled. An object rebounded and clanged against the bottom of the wastebasket.
As I considered what I had done, he loomed large on the screen of my conscience. Petty, small, even evil: I deserved whatever labels his judgment might lay upon me. For him, I would do far worse.
My fists burned for the support beam where I usually beat out my frustration. I had hidden the padding; it reminded him of what I did for a living.
Harvey started to thrash in bed and sat straight up with a gasp. His hands trembled as he held them over his eyes.
"Nightmare again, Harve? I keep telling you, stick and move."
It worked. His lips curled in disgust, but he dared to look at me. I squinted, pretending my eyes were closed.
Then, he muttered under his breath, “Doesn't help when you are the monster.”
Had I heard him wrong? I hoped so as I kept my voice sweet as possible. “What’s that, Hon'?”
He turned on the flashlight app in his phone, tiptoed around the bed, and searched the night stand like a crime scene investigator, probing every shadow in and around my weapon. Then he pulled the drawer open and searched there.
I couldn't get the 'monster' comment out of my head. I made it sound like a joke, but dared him to take me out. Not wanting to see the bullet coming, I yawned and rolled away. "Careful. There's no silencer."
"You'll need to be out of here quick."
His voice quietly rumbled, "Oh, don't worry. I got you covered." He closed the drawer and stalked over to the sink.
As he slapped open the medicine cabinet, I realized that he meant to find those pills. I felt an urge to get up, to admit my actions, but lay there, a coward.
He pulled out my sorry excuse for an apology.
The bottle bounced around in the trash, and Harvey stomped over to the bed.
In my struggle to be the pillar of strength he needed, I focused on my breathing. Silently, I begged, Come to bed, Harvey. It's going to be okay.
I held my breath as he pulled on his beat-up sneakers, and a jacket. He walked into the loving arms of the night, abandoning me and my silent, choked tears.
From the kitchen. Probably Harvey, sleepless, getting himself a sandwich.
Clink, clink clink.
My head swam with questions. I considered my weapon, then left it. We only bought stainless —my silverware thief had to be Harvey, struggling with insomnia. I walked out to the kitchen without getting dressed.
Harvey stood, hands shaking, one by one putting all my knives into a trash sack.
"Harvey J. Sorensen!" I put my hands on my hips. "What the devil are you doing?"
"Trust me, this is for the best." He tucked the knives under his shoulder and headed for the door.
I regretted my choice not to get dressed as I moved to bar the front door. "Is this because I threw away your sleeping pills?"
"No!" He slumped. "Yes? Kind of. It's complicated."
"Can't have these around. I'm not—not a good thing."
"Harve, listen to me: we are not going to throw away my knives."
"These—they're dangerous." He couldn't look me in the eye, and he mumbled another statement. "I don't want you getting hurt."
In my own kitchen? I gently placed my hand on his chest, to regulate his breath.
As the stress went out of him, he crumpled. His eyebrows knitted, he frowned and looked down.
I choked my hurt down, kept my face straight as an edge. Still, it came out in my mocking tone of voice. "Oh, honey, I have a gun. I think I can handle a kitchen knife."
His lips trembled so, he looked ready to scream.
I sighed out my anger; weakness flooded me.
His shoulders fell. "Yeah. Okay. Whatever." He offered the knives.
I took them and smiled. "Is there something you want to tell me?" Maybe now, he would talk about the robbery, or the sadness in his eyes.
He waved his hand as he turned, trying to wipe it all away. "Neh."
Still he couldn't face me. "You need to get some sleep." I fussed with his hair and buttons, pulling him close.
He nodded, head staying down.
"You're a mess." I stroked his hair out of his eyes.
His eyes opened wide. His mouth opened, he raised his hand, then he shuffled off like a homeless man rousted from behind a building.
Even with my magic touch, I could not reach him. He spoke the truth: I was the monster.
Grinding my teeth. I put down the drill and brushed the dust from the knife drawer.
Harvey spoke from behind me. "You're taking my worries seriously." He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.
"I still don't understand your worries, but my knives, I take seriously. Here." I pulled two padlocks out of my pocket.
He blinked at them.
"So, I wasn't sure. Do we both need to have a lock, or just you?"
"No, no. You keep the keys." He grabbed a spoon and stared at his bowl of cereal.
Letting out a long sigh, I locked the knives away from him. "I wish you could explain what the problem is, all of a sudden, with me having knives."
He poured some oat rings and the last few drops of milk. "I wish I could, too.” He looked at me quizzically, and shook his head.
What do you say, when the man you love thinks you're a monster and is afraid of the kitchen knives? There are no words.
"It's not safe, okay?"
What have I done to frighten you so? "I'm not going to hurt you. I wish you could believe that." Every inch of my body trembled. I slowed myself, and let my toe tap the counter.
"I never said you were going to hurt me!" He stared down into his cereal, afraid to look at me.
"I hear you, but I don't believe it." As I paced slowly and carefully, one thought plagued me. Did I pose a danger? Intelligent, disciplined, obsessive. You fit the profile, Helen.
When I could wait no longer for an answer, I nagged, "If not me, who then?"
His face turned red and he yelled, "Nobody! I don't think anybody is going to stab me, okay?" Breath ragged, he stopped and glared into my eyes, then looked back at his bowl.
A specific denial. I bit my lip. Worse than an accusation.
He closed his eyes and breathed deep. "Now will you drop it and join me for breakfast?"
I wished he'd admit it. He could get a restraining order. I'd fill out the paperwork for him. "What, you think they're going to fly across the room and attack you? Just say it, get it over with. You think I'm a monster."
He got up and walked over to me, took my hands, looked deep into my eyes. "Helen, I swear. I trust you more than any person in the world."
I looked away.
"I'm not doing well. Just please, keep those knives away from me."
I stared at his feet as I tried to make sense of his words. My lip trembled as I strained to keep it still, to keep my own chin up.
"Please, let's drop this right now, and join me for breakfast."
I dared not even look at him. "I'm not hungry. I have to go to work." I turned and slammed the door behind me.
I rushed to my cruiser and ground the starter. I barely noted him running behind me, waving his arms.
I usually took pleasure in cooking, one of the few feminine activities that I allowed myself, gently whittling away at the carrots and onions until all came together in savory unison. Today, every time I touched a knife, my stomach burned and my muscles tightened.
Each stroke of the knife hit too hard, beating out a rhythm that sounded like, "You. Are. A. Beast. He. Hates. And. Fears. You." I looked toward him, hiding in his overstuffed recliner, and shook my head. Why couldn't he face me? At least tell me that you want me gone.
"I thought you cared about your knives, Helen."
I ignored him.
"Keep chopping like that, you're going to ruin the edge."
"I thought that's what you were into, taking the edge off." I plunked down the knife and walked over to him. "Always with your television and your tapes and your triple-power sleeping pills. Don't you want to face anything?"
I should have said, 'Please, look at me!' A real Helen would have, if she existed. Instead, he only had Fiona, peddling lies like concealer.
He sat there, clenching and unclenching his fist. His voice came soft, vibrating with emotion as he spoke, quiet and clear. "You have no idea what I've been facing."
I let a note of pain into my voice. "No. You're right; you don't tell me anything. How could I know?"
"I'm sorry; I don't want to be ridiculed by Officer Sorensen for being weak."
That sent me back, to a time after returning from Franklin's funeral. My father looked at me from the mirror, as I sat crying over my vanity desk. He still wore his black suit. I'll never forget the look of sadness and frustration in his eyes as he watched me fall apart. I'm sure I had the same terrible look on my face. "Is that what you think? Damn it, Harve."
I gripped my forehead, like trying to pinch something off of it with the tips of my fingers. "I'll bet this is how Dad felt, why he was so upset." Why he drove off that cliff, I almost said—an accident, of course, that stupid little Fiona-me had caused by disappointing him. I turned and stomped off to the kitchen, trying to hack through the counter.
The fight ends when somebody walks away; that's our rule. He looked ready to sit down, so I focused my attention on the stew I planned to make.
Something inside him stopped. He got back up, looking around. He strode forward, sneering at the knives that I had laid around the counters. He grabbed one of them, waved it about in front of his face. "This is what I'm talking about! I ask you to keep these things under control, and you scatter them everywhere."
I dropped my chin in shock for a split second before my training asserted itself. I took cover behind the mini-counter.
At that he slammed the knife down on the counter, with a few others, scowled, and swept them backward toward the living room. They scattered about with a clatter.
"Harvey, relax. We can talk about this." I tightened my fist around the knife, forgetting even that I had it.
"Relax? Get some sleep? That's all I've been trying to do for days, I don't know, months. But you were absolutely right. We do have to face this. It ends now, today."
"Please, sit down." I circled the little counter in the middle of the kitchen, keeping it between us. "I'm ready to listen."
He tried to think for a moment, then shook it off. "It's too late! We have to take care of this now! You won't let me get any help. What kind of psycho threatens a man’s psychiatrist?”
I looked down and to the right. My face burned and my voice refused to come above a whimper. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"You know. Doctor Feingold said you pulled him over."
My cheeks burned. I shrugged.
"What kind of nut-job does that?"
"You don't understand." We kept circling. He'd move left, and I'd move left. He moved right, and I edged right, keeping the counter between us, and my hands down low. "Those pills, they don't help. I've seen it."
"So, you think you are better at doctoring than they are." He choked on a laugh. "I have done everything I could to get help, and every single time I reached out my hand you slapped it down. I can't take it anymore."
"I'm only trying to protect you."
"The gun. He pulled the trigger." Harvey looked away from me and laughed. "You didn't even know I got robbed, did you?"
"They told me." I swallowed. "I figured I'd give you your space."
Shock rattled his face. He rushed around the counter, grabbed at my shirt, pulled me close to drive his message home. "That is not when you—"
From the look on his face, I realized the mistake before he did: I had instinctively raised the knife in defense.
"Aargh!" Pain and relief flashed over his face. His legs turned to jelly, and he crumbled before me.
I grabbed the gauze and tape. "I'm so sorry!" My tears dripped on his cheek as I struggled to bandage the wound, ignoring everything I knew about first aid.
I cut off another length. "I was trying to protect you. I didn't mean to terrorize you." I held pressure to the wound.
He reached up, and touched my cheek with his knuckles.
Just the kind of affection I had been aching for. "Can't help you. Gotta get help."
I activated my radio. "I need an ambulance at the Sorensen residence. Stabbing victim."
The dispatcher verified my address.
"That's right." Carla knew me, would identify me.
I swore, and tried to change my voice before continuing. "Yeah, um, I broke in and stabbed this guy."
Carla didn't seem fazed. "Why did you—how did you get this radio?"
"It's his wife's radio, that's why." I threw the thing on the ground.
I looked down at him, knowing this might be my last chance. The wound looked horrible. I dropped my guard, for once being really open. "I'm sorry, Harve."
"Don't be." His bloody hands gripped the gauze. "I've been trying to protect you. You have to...."
"I have to stay here. You need me." Everything I had—job, reputation, freedom—would vanish as soon as the authorities arrived. They would arrest me for this stabbing, for attempted murder. They would figure out that I was Fiona, would want to ask about my boyfriend's death, maybe even Dad's. But, I could not leave—could I? Of course not.
"No, no you don't. Get away, be free."
My will bled out of me. He would survive, I hoped. He would get all the help he could possibly get. My leaving would change nothing. "You hold that bandage. Don't let any more blood out than you have to."
His voice rasped. "I, ah, promise." He gasped at a flash of pain.
I bolted for the door. I threw the door open. The tires squealed and the cruiser door slapped closed as I raced away.
I hid in a closet, listening.
"There's no shame in being an abused spouse." Sharon leaned over Harvey's hospital bed. "Can happen to anybody."
He shifted, and groaned. A second later, he took a deep breath.
I knew the look Sharon gave him, supportive and full of compassion. I taught her that. "You love her. I understand."
The monitor beeped as we waited Harvey's answer.
"It’s going to take some time." Sharon stood up and brushed herself off.
"I'll leave my card here in case there's anything you want to tell me, later." Then, Sharon left.
She didn't believe a word he had said. I couldn’t blame her. Harvey never lied much. That story about a woman burglar that stabbed him and called an ambulance, would never win awards for credibility. But, mercifully, she had left. My hands ached to hold his.
I watched him lay there staring at the cool blue curtains, probably the most relaxing thing he'd seen in weeks. "How are you holding up?"
He perked up, almost smiling.
He thought for a second. Then, looking right at me, taking in the butchered blackened hair and the tattered gray hoody, he smiled wryly, blinking. "Is that you, Fiona?"
A hard knot in my belly softened as my secret escaped. "You know? How?"
"Damn sleeping pills." I ran my fingers through short, ragged, dyed-black hair, no longer long and blond. "I always swore, if I ever faced it again, I'd flush those damn things down the toilet before they could kill him."
"You lost somebody to sleeping pills?" As the look on his face softened, I could feel his relief.
I swallowed and nodded. He didn't know the whole story yet, all my shame, but the time had come. "I couldn't let them take you, too. I wanted to be there for you. I didn't know what the hell I was doing."
He glanced at the doorway and glared. "You should have left. They didn't buy my story."
"You always were a terrible liar." I squeezed his hand.
He gave me a small smile.
"You're one to talk." Pain flashed over his face as he tried to hold back his laugh. "'His wife's radio, that's why.'"
That second, I heard footsteps and the click of a service weapon being removed from the holster, in violation of policy: no need to draw on an unarmed suspect. Still, I commended them for the desire to protect him.
"Officer Sorensen," Sharon said, "Please. Step away from the bed."
Screw them. It's going to be a while. I'm not giving this up. I didn't let go.
Sharon raised her voice and slowed her tempo. "Fiona O'Leary: you are under arrest. Step away from the bed."
Another officer walked up to me and pulled my hands away.
"Just..." I looked at him with guilt and longing. "Tell the truth. It's not so bad. I'll be here for you, the right way. We'll get help."
He nodded, reaching for me.
"I will get help. I swear it."
"Fiona O'Leary, you have the right to remain silent." Carl pulled my shoulder. "Anything you say or do can and will...."
As he dragged me away, I said over my shoulder, "You pull through this. It's going to be okay. That's a promise."
Headed toward jail, probably prison; being dragged away from my husband at his darkest hour: my life had to be the furthest thing from 'okay.' Yet, for the first time, I began to really consider the possibility that I had not been at fault, those many years ago. I had done everything I could for Franklin, and I would do the same for Harvey. That would be enough. It would have to be.
I looked back at the door to his room, and mouthed the words, "I'm sorry. I'll do better."
"Nonsense, honey." Mom sprayed some hairspray in the air above me. "I missed your real wedding; we're not going to delay this."
"I look like some kind of silly girl."
"You look like my daughter. It's high time you give yourself permission to be who you really are, 'Helen.'"
"You know Helen isn't real."
"Checked up on you, I did." She and that brush worked over my head like a suspect.
She never had the sensitivity for this sort of work. Felt nice, like I'd come home.
"You did all the right things, got all the training. Some fine police work, too. I talked to Sharon."
"I forged my papers, changed my name illegally, abandoned you, and most of all—"
"Ah, so you misspelled your name. Really badly." She chuckled. "You're a cop, not a librarian."
I frowned and blew on my nails. "Sorry this has to be done in my house. It's so dumpy."
"House arrest. Can't be helped." She played with my hair. "This hatchet job you did on your hair, though. That's a real shame. Looks like something I'd do. Somehow you still look good, though."
"Thanks, Mom. I think."
"You're brother's roommate, Isaac? He could help. Too bad he couldn't come."
I grabbed her hand and turned around to look at her. "Thank you, Mom, for taking me back into your life, after all the harm I caused."
She shook her head and patted me on the head. "We all got our share of stupid out of the O'Leary trove. You just spent all yours on getting a new name."
"I'm talking about Dad. How I—"
"Oh?" She turned me around and worked at my hair. "I didn't know Fiona worked on brakes."
"The man had some slipshod work done on his brakes. I think your Pa tried to do it himself, to save the department money."
She reached down and pulled my mouth closed. "You're going to be a beautiful bride, just put the knife down when you move in for the hug."
He said/she said:
Wanna know what Harvey was thinking? Check out the sister piece, ""Drive it Home"