Lorraine finished her dinner first and sat quietly, poking at her leftover peas until the adults stood up to clear the table. The little boy that sat across from her had stared down at his plate the entire time, refusing to touch her mom's macaroni salad. She saw his(more) dad lean over and whisper a few words about going to bed without dinner, but the boy never even flinched.
"Lorraine darling, come here and tell Mrs. Wilson how you won that ribbon in the science fair". It was third place, and she had grown some bread mold. But her mother insisted on telling every other parent on the block. She trudged over to the kitchen and recited the same little speech she had said to the judges two weeks ago.
"Brilliant, isn't she?" Mrs. Wilson smiled politely at the two of them, and said something about her son collecting dead bugs for his project. Lorraine spotted the little pink plates of apple tart and inched away from the conversation. Her mother caught her before she could nab one.
"Honey, you should take one of those desserts out to Matthew. I'm sure he'll eat that." Lorraine reluctantly took a piece with four slices of apple on top and went back into the dining room, but Matthew wasn't sitting at the table anymore. She checked the living room, but there was no little boy between the football game and the fathers' unopened beers. She went over to the patio door, but she couldn't see anything through the raindrops racing on the glass. Then she heard a rustling noise from beyond the basement door, so she opened it and flicked on the light, only to find Matthew hunched over on the floor. In his hands were the pieces of a dead dragonfly. (less)
She finds him haunting her thoughts more and more each day regardless of all the clutter she throws in his path.
If she keeps herself occupied with minutia she can go a full five minutes without a trace of him crossing her mind but the slightest little thing can(more) set off a chain reaction bringing her right back to him.
He's always with her even when he's not, it's been that way for quite some time despite her attempts to keep him far away from her imaginings.
She knew it was wrong to let him have such free rein over her thought patterns but she was powerless when it came to him. He'd unknowingly trained her that way and she eagerly followed his lead in the game they'd been playing for what seemed like a lifetime but somewhere along the way the lines blurred.
Sometimes it became difficult to separate fantasy from reality but one thing remained clear; she belonged to him.
Whatever he wanted whenever he wanted.
Nothing more and nothing less.
He made the rules and she followed them.
Of course it was all made easier by the simple fact that her wants were the same as his.
She fought against the primal connection between them and tried to keep her emotions to herself but he knew, somehow he always knew when she needed him most despite her attempts to prove otherwise.
She'd ignore the fire in her belly when his name came up in conversation in an attempt to keep herself under control and she was able to hide her unconscious reaction from everyone but him.
She finds him slipping into her dreams each night, so vivid and clear that when she awakens each morning the first thing she does is reach for him.
He's never there.(less)
She finds him at the bottom of the box. For the last twenty years, he's been protected by a pile of less important things. She holds her breath as she gently brushes the dust off, which takes a little longer than expected. As the dust cloud settles, she breathes(more) back in deep, and it should smell like attic, but it smells like--it smells like everything all at once.
His little shirt is out of place, and she tugs on it until he looks right. Well, as right as a stuffed bear in a tiny hand-knit sweater can look. Thirty or so years ago she had ran to her grandmother, very concerned. "Granny! He's going to catch cold!"
"Daryl!" she shook the tiny bear in front of the old woman. "Daryl."
"Oh." The grandmother put down her newspaper and took the bear in her hands. "I think we can do something about this to make sure he stays warm."
That December afternoon, by the warmth of the fire, she watched intently as her grandmother knit Daryl a sweater. Now, holding the bear today, he seems so much smaller.
She puts the other things back in the box, but keeps Daryl out. She doesn't have a son or a daughter of her own, but she'll take him back home with her on the plane. Put him in her den or on her desk at work. He will remind her of things she doesn't want to forget.(less)
She's not even looking. She's totally not looking. But then there he is. She finds him. That's what he says later, making it sound like a joke. But she-maybe at first she thinks it's a joke, but she quickly decides it isn't. It's just how he operates. Which is(more) not to say he doesn't love her or anything like that. He just makes it all sound like a joke.
But now here they are ten years later, still going strong. There's still so much she doesn't know about him-& their three kids?--four, six, and eight--still haven't ever met their grandparents. Or her, her in-laws. Only his fuck-up of a brother, George. His little brother, who blows through town maybe twice a year and crashes on the couch until he's ready to move on. The kids love him, of course, but Sally would like him better if he ever washed a dish, said thank you for a meal, washed his sheets or at least cleared them off the couch in the morning so you could watch the news on your own damn couch without having to strip the sheets off it first...
But she loves her husband, and their kids, and the life they have. It's a life, a pretty good one. That's better than most people get, really.(less)