Perion sat on the floor of the old equipment shed. She had all her old songs spread around her. As of late, the songs had given her comfort. Day in and day out, she sat and pored over them. Sometimes she hummed to the music; sometimes she hummed tunes to the songs if they had no music. It made her feel closer to the girls. And surprisingly enough, poring over the songs helped ease her grief and guilt. It seemed to be exactly what she needed.
She was still in the equipment shed when Lein arrived. She hadn’t heard his entrance. Her back was to him and the door of the shed stood wide open to circulate the breeze. She was also too wrapped up in her own thoughts to really care about visitors.
For a very long time, Lein simply stood in the doorway, listening and watching. He was pleased to note that she had gained some weight. She was also humming; he hadn’t heard her do any type of vocalizing since the accident. When he’d shown up at the door an hour earlier, Marilinn told him what Perion had done to alleviate some of the grief, guilt, and addiction that had wracked her mind and body. From the look and sound of her, it was working.
Perion stood, taking the manila folders with her as she rose. When she turned around, she saw Lein. Her folders dropped to the floor abruptly. A look of surprise sprang so suddenly in her eyes, it would have been comical if it hadn’t been so serious. For a brief moment, she panicked. Did her protruding stomach betray her? She wore an oversized denim shirt, and hoped that he couldn’t see how far along she actually was.
“What are you doing here,” she asked when she could finally speak. “I told you I wasn’t ready to see you yet.”
“And I told you I wasn’t giving up,” he said softly.
“You should have.”
He sighed deeply and moved further into the room. “Perion, you’re my wife and I love you. I want you to come home with me.”
“I can’t,” she said stiffly.
For a moment, he didn’t say anything. He kneeled down and picked up the folders and their spilled contents. He looked up and offered them to her. Perion’s eyes were locked with his as she quietly took the folders from his outstretched hand. Lein silently stood without taking his eyes off hers.
Shifting gears a little, Lein asked, “Are you okay?”
She nodded. “Yeah, I’m better.”
Lein sighed again and ran his hand through his hair. “These niceties just aren’t working for me, Perion. For God’s sake, we’re acting like total strangers here, and we are far far from that. You love me, I know you do, and you know I love you. I don’t see any reason or excuse for us to remain separated. If you can honestly say you don’t love me, that you don’t want me, I’ll leave right now.”
“You know I can’t, Lein,” she whispered
“Then why won’t you let me in? Why won’t you let me be there for you? Why won’t you come back to me?”
“You don’t understand,” she said. “I’m terrified of going back, I’m not strong enough. There are too many memories, and it’s too close to cocaine. I can’t go back, not now.”
“You’re right, I don’t totally understand, but I want to. In order for me to do that, I have to be with you, we need to be together. You want to be with me, don’t you? I’m not wrong about that, am I?”
She couldn’t hide her feelings from him, even from the beginning, and she didn’t intend to try. “Yes, you know I do, but not in the shape I’m in. I don’t trust myself in L.A.”
He nodded. “That I can thoroughly understand. Let me stay here with you.”
Adrenaline edged terror ripped through her body. No, oh no. What would happen to Lein’s love for her if his child died due to her cocaine abuse? I’m so afraid I’ve done something to your baby, she thought. “No,” she cried, “I can’t live with you while I carry another man’s baby.” She felt like a filthy liar, a cheat.
“Perion, I don’t care, it doesn’t matter to me.”
"I care, and it matters to me,” she said quietly. “I do love you, Lein, but it takes more than that to keep two people together. Even though I want to be with you, this time, I think it’s really over. Our relationship would never be the same, and you know that. Get out while you have a chance to salvage your life.”
“I have no life without you.”
Perion was visibly shaking. “Please, Lein, go.”
Lein knew if he pushed things, he would upset her further. She didn’t need that, she had been pushed far enough. “I’ll go, for now. But I am not giving up, not now, not ever.”
He quietly turned away from her and left the shed. After a few moments, Perion sank down to the floor. She had no idea if she did the right thing, but at that moment, it was all she could do.
“Perion,” Marilinn’s voice said from behind.
She didn’t turn around to face her mother. “Yes?”
“Did you talk to him? Did you tell him?”
“No,” she said, “I didn’t. I couldn’t.”
“Perion, what makes you think he’ll hate you? He’s never hated you. Why don’t you give him the benefit of the doubt for once? I think you need each other.”
“Mother, what if the cocaine has done something to the baby? He will hate me if I’ve harmed his child. It’s better that he not know.”
“Do you think he loves this child any less, even though he believes it belongs to Blaine? You’re making a mistake excluding him. He is your husband, and he’s doing everything he can to help you. Don’t turn away the man you love. Go to him, Perion, go to him and let him love you.”
Perion’s head sank down and she shook her head. “I can’t, Momma, I just can’t. If I’ve done something to our baby, I don’t deserve his love.”
“He won’t stay away, you know that don’t you?”
She nodded. “Yes, I know. I’ll leave again if I must. I can’t watch him grieve another lost child, Mother. I can’t bare the thought of him hating me. I have to do this my way.”
“Okay, Perion. I just hope you know what you’re doing.”
After Lein’s visit to Perion, he continued to call regularly. He would always ask Marilinn to speak to Perion. She would never take his calls.