The Great Bear: part 6

by jamesmerolla

At night, if Wayne isn’t staring at the TV, or taking in the view from his bed, he’s searching.

He searches for three specific items; a broken watch, given to him by someone he can’t remember, his old baseball glove, just to smell the leather again, and the knife.  He searches for them, with numerous fates attached to whatever he might find.

He thinks of things being better with every quiet hour thumbing through boxes in the attic or kicking up some old newspapers in the basement.  He thinks of not being afraid.

This night, he is remembering a vacation He and Margot took years ago. They had only been together a year. There was laughter, and closeness not even light could slip between. Her voice was always in his ear.

Every light is on in the basement, and Wayne is in the corner with the fishing poles, feeling through dark spaces.

The door at the top of the stairs opens, and Margot leans her ear into the basement draft. This prompts him to clear his throat and shuffle through a box. The door closes.

Lately all he wants to find is the knife. He wants to feel his fingers tighten around the handle, test its steel with the edge of his finger, and thrust it into the air.

He looks at the opposite corner, beyond the exercise equipment, a small box, spattered with paint, and draped in a drop cloth. It’s a box he’s certain to have turned upside down before, but he approaches it anyway. He removes the drop cloth, and feels something shake loose from its folds and hit the floor.

The knife stares up at him. It didn’t believe Wayne would ever find it.

His fingers buzz with anxiety, as he picks it up. He pulls it from its case and presses it gently to his cheek to feel the cold lifelessness.

The look of righteous fear in his eyes, he sees nothing on his way to Margot.

The bedroom door is open a crack. Margot can feel Wayne studying the grain of the wood as he hesitates before entering.

The room is streaked with moonlight, and peppered with the gentle clangs of the radiator. She is motionless with her back to the door, her brown hair entangled with the dark. He lies down beside her, and leans in close enough for her to feel his breath against her ear. She opens her eyes.

     Margot, I need to tell you something.  I’m going into the woods for a while. I don’t know for how long.

She rolls over to face him. Her eyes are widened in surprised confusion.

     When I come back everything will be okay, just like before.

She sits up and rests herself against the headboard, her chin furrowed with troubling thought.

     It’ll be okay. I’m not afraid, Margot.

She gives him a watery eyed smile, and kisses him.

     It won’t be like before. This is who we are now. And it’s okay to be afraid. I’m afraid too.

A suspended breath hangs over them.

     I know, but don’t tell me that.

     I won’t.

They reach out to each other, remembering an old instinct. She rests her head on his chest, and they lean back into the bed.

He speaks in a half whisper.

     I don’t hate you. I never will.

Their minds race down the winding corridors of their lives, chasing every shadow that led them here.

     I love you too.

concluded in part 7…

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