The police had been yesterday. They’d stepped in the door and said they’d been called on a wellness check. Thea had yelled down that she was fine and they could go away. So they had. She had another week to stew in cracker crumbs and cheese wrappers before she had to take a shower frequently enough to qualify as a human and figure out how to be a single parent.
Kay had called yesterday, after the wellness check—which probably meant that had been her idea—and Thea had texted back that she was fine and she’d call in a couple of days.
The blanket ripped off her, light spilling into her cocoon and Thea buried her face. She hadn’t even heard the door open. The curtain rings grated loudly as they rushed across the rod and her bedroom turned into the surface of the sun.
Weight landed on the mattress next to her. “I was always your friend and not his.”
Thea blinked at Kay, miraculously back from wherever she’d been working and sitting on the edge of Thea’s bed.
Kay shifted uncomfortably, crumpling a cheese stick wrapper in her hand. “And I’m not saying you can’t be…as sad as you need to be.”
She rolled over, and threw an arm over her face, sniffling. She wasn’t sure she was even sad any more, not actively. It was more…numb. She’d cried until her tear-ducts cramped, and then it’d sort of stopped.
She’d managed to keep herself moving for the first three weeks, and get them through the beginning. And then Seb had gotten out of school and he was there and she was trying and he was…he was a kid. Kids were rubber bouncy balls. She didn’t doubt he was still grieving, or that he wouldn’t keep grieving.
She didn’t doubt she could have managed. But when James’ parents showed up and said they wanted to take him for a month during the summer, and he’d wanted to go, she’d happily sent him.
“I know you.” Kay swallowed. “You were going to rock out of this bed in a week, guilty and hurt because Seb needs his Mom and you need…time.”
Thea rubbed her eyes, and puffed out a breath. “I don’t know what I need.”
“I know you need to not crawl under your bed. I don’t think that’ll make the world make sense again.”
“I picked him up, he’s unpacking his clothes.” Kay shifted, folding her legs on the bed. “I told him I got leave unexpectedly.”
Kay watched her quietly, and glanced down at her hangs, fiddling in her lap. “Until I think you’re okay when I go back.”
“You didn’t answer your phone. I actually called in a well-check and you told them to go away and still didn’t answer your phone.” Kay sniffled. “You aren’t okay, you couldn’t be okay. And Seb…your in-laws barely know me, and they sent him with me, Dottie. He wanted to come home, but nobody wants to make this harder for you and…and maybe me being here is only a paper moon, so you can pretend to not be broken for a while.”
Thea sat up, sighing. “But I have to start somewhere.”
Kay handed her the cheese wrapper. “Start with being presentable enough for your kid. I bought fried chicken from the scary place on the highway so you know it’ll be awesome.”
Come back tomorrow for Q