Edith dropped me off at my house, which happened with me wanting to say something more, I don't know what, to her, and I got the same impression from her.
I ended up standing at my window, looking out at the rain, trying to figure out what I had wanted to say. Nothing really came. I just wished the ride had been longer. I felt more alive when I was around Edith. Colors seemed brighter, jokes seemed funnier, memories that came to me were more likely to be good than bad. I didn't feel like the world was passing me by, I felt like I was right there in it.
I liked listening to her talk. I liked what she chose to talk about. I liked the way she talked to me, she seemed more of an adult than most others our age, but unlike actual adults she treated me as an equal.
And just happy, bright feelings. Like the sun on my face after a month with none, but none of the threat of a burn.
But it didn't leave me with any idea of what I might have wanted to say to her. Just, something.
As I stared out the window, watching the rain fall, I sort of lost my grounding. I lost all track of time, I lost track of everything. I just ended up doing nothing. Until a loud familiar sound broke me out of that state.
My truck was unmistakable, reliable, lovable, as loud as an aircraft engine. I headed downstairs so I could greet the driver.
It was Edith's brother, a shorter boy with wild hair, there was a distant look in his eyes as if his mind were in some other time or place. Still, he greeted me warmly, "I'm Alex," he said, in a friendly tone, getting out of the truck and extending his hand.
"Ben," I said, shaking his hand. Which was freezing, "Do you want to come inside to warm up?"
Alex smiled and said, "No, I'm actually fine. I've just got a very low normal body temperature. Whole family does actually." There was a pause, "It's why we were adopted. Part of the same condition that makes us all," Alex mimed being a zombie. "I've got no complaints. It gets me a lot of excused absences from school."
"Is that why you never eat school lunch?"
"It is. But I didn't want to talk to you about that. I wanted to tell you about something completely different."
"I thought you wanted to drop off the truck."
"Well, that too. But what I wanted to tell you is that some members of my family are slow to adapt to change. Glacial even. If it seems like they're giving you the cold shoulder it's really nothing personal. It's just who they are. They'll adapt."
"What about you?"
His eyes became even more distant, as if he were focusing on something just beyond the horizon. I've tried to make my eyes do that in the past and it hurt. "I see a bright future for you with us, if you want it." Then his eyes pulled into focus and for the first time he seemed fully present, "But that doesn't matter. In the here and now you make Edith happy."
"I do?" And I broadcast my own insecurities far and wide in just two quiet, somewhat surprised, words.
"You do, and that's enough for me. So I just wanted to say that as long as you keep that up, I'm happy to have you involved in my family." He started to walk away.
"Do you want a ride home?" I asked. Having a conversation in the drizzle was making me cold.
"No, I like the rain."
He turned back to face me, "I'm sure, see you later." He waved, and then returned to walking away.
By the time Charlize got home I was warm and dry. After she unloaded and hung up her gun I told her, "So, good news bad news."
"Good news first," she said.
"You don't have to worry about me going to Seattle alone."
"Edith is coming with me."
"Like a date?" she sounded almost hopeful.
"I don't think so. More like a mechanic." There was a pause. "She fixed the truck and says she wouldn't forgive herself if broke down on me. Since this'll be the longest trip it's taken since she fixed it..."
"You should find out if it's a date."
"There's nothing wrong with dating your mechanic. Anyway, if one of you thinks it's a date and the other doesn't then there'll be all kinds of awkwardness, and I know how you feel about awkwardness."
"You mean like this conversation?"
She sighed, closed her eyes, and then said, "I am happy to hear that you won't be going alone," and I knew she meant it, "I'm just saying... you know what I'm saying. I won't draw it out any more."
And then there was silence.
"Oh, what about bad news?" It's a good thing she remembered, because I had forgotten.
"I... I uh..." I looked at my feet, "I had a flashback today."
Charlize had no idea what I was talking about, "As in..."
"Post traumatic stress. The smell of blood sent me back to the accident and... and..." I couldn't talk.
Charlize came over and gave me a hug. We're not usually a hugging family, but it helped. "And I had to leave school early," I finished. Charlize told me that it was ok, and rubbed my back a bit. Not sure how long the hug went on for. Also didn't realize I was crying until after the fact.-
[Edith and Ben Index]