“She’s the one that suddenly dropped everything before the asteroid…” My voice trailed away and I stared at him, mind struggling to process the implications of what I was about to say. She dropped everything and drove to god knows where a week before all of this happened. Went off the grid. I remember Thom mentioning it and laughing, not knowing what to make of it. Blamed it on that guy she’d been seeing.
The guy that was supposed to start teaching here for the fall semester.
Shit and goddamn.
I wasn’t quite sure what it all meant, but the math in my brain led me to believe that it was all a little fishy. Like they’d somehow known something we hadn’t. Then again, we’d known something most of the rest of the world hadn’t, we just hadn’t realized what it meant until it was too late.
Some of the fear had melted out of his expression as he stared at me, apparently watching me try to work out possible conclusions about what all of this could mean. “About a week before,” he said quietly, brow furrowing. “He got a letter from her, but I don’t think he ever read it.”
He did? And didn’t read it? That’s not like him. “That doesn’t sound like her.” I’d met Kira a few times, usually when she cooked Thanksgiving dinner in her loft in the city. Thom liked going there more than he liked spending his holidays with his parents, and I couldn’t blame him for that one bit. She’d always been nice to me, a few years older than he or I, and just finishing her Ph.D at the University of Chicago. “Dropping everything and just going, I mean. Not calling. All of that.” I frowned. “She’s like a sister to him.”
J.T. shrugged a little. “I don’t know. Maybe they talked on the phone while I wasn’t around. Maybe she convinced him he was going to do something idiotic by leaving without saying good-bye to you. I just…I don’t know, Mar. But he didn’t seem all that worried.”
“I’ll have to ask him,” I murmured.
“Why?” J.T. swallowed, shaking his head. “I don’t know that you should. I really don’t know that it’s a good idea. I mean, what if she said that she’d decided to stay in the city? Or that she was coming up for the weekend or something? I mean…Mar, she could be dead.” He swallowed hard, looking away again. “…even though I don’t think she is.”
I just stared at him wordlessly for a moment. He squirmed uncomfortably, something I’d only seen him do once or twice in all the years I’d known him. Big, bad Jameson Thaddeus MacKenzie was never uncomfortable, and if he ever was, he never showed it. He’d always laughed about doing crazy shit while he was high, or seeing things while working as a paramedic, that made him pretty much immune to being uncomfortable.
But now here he was, squirming like a virgin on a prison bus.
“Jay,” I said softly. “If you’re going to tell someone, you might as well tell me.”
He looked at me square after a moment, then shook his head. “I’m not sure I want to tell anyone.”
I squeezed his hand tightly and he sighed.
“If I don’t, you’re going to tell me it’s going to eat me up inside, aren’t you?”
“If you don’t tell someone? I think it might, Jay. I really do. Tell me, tell Carolyn, tell Kel…but tell someone. Talk to someone.”
“I don’t want to tell Carolyn,” he mumbled. “She’s got enough on her plate already. Enough stress.”
Don’t we all? And here I am sitting here, trying to take on more. There’s got to be something wrong with me. “Then tell Kel or I about it, Jay. Tell someone. You don’t need to shoulder whatever this is all by yourself. I mean…she already knows it’s bothering you and bothering you a lot. Are you getting any rest with these dreams?”
“Yeah.” He cracked a smile. “Yeah, even with fucked up dreams, I’m still waking up feeling like I’ve gotten solid sleep. That’s not a problem.”
Not yet. I tried to shake off the morbid thoughts, then exhaled. “That’s at least a small blessing. Probably a pretty big one.”
He laughed weakly, nodding. “Yeah. Yeah, that’s something, at least. We’ve got enough people not sleeping well.” He stared at me for a moment, frowning. “Are you all right? Sleeping okay?”
“Yeah, I’m good.” I squeezed his hand again, smiling. “But I appreciate the concern.”
A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth and he nodded a little. “You’re welcome to it. Distracts me from what I’m afraid of.”
I stared up at him, chewing the inside of my lip. “What’re you afraid of, Jay?”
He let go of my hand and leaned forward, resting his elbows against his knees. He stared at his hands and spoke in a voice that was barely above a whisper. “I’m afraid that I’m seeing ghosts…and I’m afraid that I can’t control that.” A tremor entered his voice.
“And if I can’t control that, how long will it be before it controls me?”
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