Chapter 23. Anticipation
Each night that I sat alone in the house, I contemplated what life would be like with Megan here again. I knew that she was not the same person who left for an appointment with her therapist almost two months ago. She could never go back to being that person, or the person she was before she was raped and assaulted for the first time by that monster. Megan had changed, not evolved, and I felt a sense of duty towards her. Ruby had kept asking me to consider if I loved her or if I felt guilty and eased my guilt by caring for her. Although at the time I didn’t know the answer to that question, what I did know was that I was not ready for the wires to come off her mouth.
Every afternoon before I left, she would cross off the day on the little calendar and I knew that we both felt remorse that another day of our blissful affair there at the rehab center had ended. At that time in our lives, life was easy. Meg may have cried a lot then, she may have needed me to hold her a lot more, but there was nothing wrong with that as far as I was concerned. She needed my strength and I needed to know that she’d be all right, so we plugged along in this symbiotic relationship, knowing that eventually when the calendar blocks were filled with red X’s, it would be time to face the music in a way neither of us was accustomed to doing.
After I poured myself a Scotch, I stood behind the bar staring at the Steinway that had been struck silent again in her absence. Meg’s hands--he broke them so she couldn’t play. Her hair--he cut it so I couldn’t admire it. Her sex was brutalized so that she would never be receptive to another’s touch. Her body, he mutilated it so she would always be ashamed of it. He destroyed who she was physically. I had to keep reminding myself that it had come to this. There was no avoiding it before September. She couldn’t keep herself from a dangerous relationship since she knew nothing else. “How come love can’t be like a romance novel?”
Her question burned my soul, when back then her eyes bored through mine, as she searched for hope and found disbelief. Truly, I wanted to teach her how it felt to be loved, so she’d never go back to another abuser. Yet, I wondered, was this possible? Although I wanted to protect her as if she was Angie, I had to realize that my daughter was well-adjusted, unlike my assistant who I was in an intimate relationship with.
Meg’s embrace yearned for me. How she didn’t want to let go and would fall asleep touching me so she would know if I went anywhere, made me understand just how needy Megan was at the time. Then again, who wouldn’t have reacted the same way?
When the following day would end her silence, I realized that by the weekend, she’ll return here. I couldn’t sleep so I sat in the office with a lager and surveyed the mess, considering her reaction to it. The foundation mail lay piled on her desk while the fax machine overflowed with paper spilling onto the floor. The voicemail was full and bouncing back to clients, so I wrote down the list of messages and left them on her desk, then emptied the voicemail. Nothing about the foundation seemed important enough to me then.
As I leaned back in the chair and sipped the lager, I thought about the day she blew in here like a tornado, how this office had only a path through it because there were boxes, files, and papers stacked everywhere else. She couldn’t find a desk for ten minutes, but before the eleventh minute was up, she had cleared a desktop and began organizing the office. I didn’t remember hearing her come up to bed that night and truly thought nothing of it. The next morning I had found her in a completely organized office asleep on the futon with a file spread open on her chest.
At two o’ clock in the morning, I still couldn’t sleep. Tired of flipping the television channels and finding nothing worthwhile to watch, I considered that six hours ahead, in England, it would be eight and Sean would be awake at his house outside of London. Since I had the excuse that I was returning his string of unanswered phone calls that week, I phoned Sean but discussed Megan more than the foundation.
Finally, Sean broached the subject of the foundation, asking me what condition Megan’s immaculate office had become once again.
“It looks bad,” I told him.
“I’ve been dealing with donors here. A couple of them have been waiting for tributes and another a statement for his taxes. When does Meg come home?”
“Soon, we hope.”
“You sound like you’re dreading it.”
“I don’t dread her, but I’m not looking forward to the story of what happened.”
“You need to move on after you hear it. I know you love her, but you need to get past what Randy did to Megan. Resenting him and giving him power over your emotions isn’t going to help her or you. He wins. Don’t you see that? You’ll let Davenport win.”
“We’ve been talking in sign since the one cast was removed.”
“Not much, and sometimes I can’t understand what she’s trying to say.”
“Will you be glad for the wires to come off?”
“No, I like life how it is right now.”
“Her in the hospital, and you taking care of her?”
“Soon she’ll be home, and you’ll be taking care of her.”
“I know, but it will be more than that. The story, the nightmares... how much is one person supposed to endure in this life?”
“You can’t look at it that way, Alex. Remember who Megan is, she’s a survivor. I remember you calling and telling me that night that they didn’t expect her to live. Do you remember that?”
“Yeah,” I replied, considering how I carried her rosary in my pocket as I talked to Sean that night, touching it when I needed strength, begging God in my head not to take her from me. Sean kept talking as I tuned him out. My mind wouldn’t let me escape the memories of that night, and I felt the same shiver up my spine as I did when I first saw Megan in that hospital bed with her hair chopped short and her face bruised. Her hands were in casts and she was hooked up to everything in that room.
“Do you need me to come to New York?” Sean asked me. I didn’t hear him, just the pause in his speech.
“Yeah,” I replied.
“I’ll call you with my flight arrangements.”
“Alex, do you want me to come to New York or not?”
“Oh, I don’t know.”
“You need to get some sleep.”
“I’ll call you after we get in. Go to bed.”