Slowly throughout the rest of the week, people started to leave. Tom left for Tennessee. My brothers went next as they were going back to take over for uncle Marvin before my parents came back. Brandt’s brother and sister left shortly after and I felt guilty for not spending time with them specifically. I barely knew them, and they had welcomed me into their family with open arms, but I guessed it wouldn’t matter when Brandt finally got rid of me.
The slow trickle of people leaving gave Brandt something to do. He helped to take them to the airport as a shuttle service almost. It kept him busy with the number of people we had here. We scarcely had time to talk, and it was more of a relief. I knew it delayed the inevitable, but I didn’t want my family present to see our demise. I wanted his dismissal of me to be more private.
My sister, Judy, left with her husband but made me promise to call every night. I promised, but I knew I wouldn’t. My only craving was to be left alone in the quiet house to wallow in my sorrow, not some family pity party every night of the week.
By the end of the week, the only people left were Amilyn and my parents. As I spoke my goodbye to Ami, I hugged her tightly and watched her leave, wondering once again if she had been too hasty to get rid of Phillip. She was such a special person, I never understood why she always seemed to deny herself the love she deserved. She promised to be back soon to check up on me before she left. Brandt took her to the airport, and I could feel a change come over my parents as soon as they were out the door.
My mother basically forced me to eat since I had no appetite. Her constant coddling of me was both a relief and a curse, but she needed something to do. Although I knew it came out of love, her type of endearment suffocated me.
Dad’s approach less indulging, he let me think when I needed it but also let me rely on him too. He even stopped my mother from trying to give me pain pills every time I turned around. It wasn’t as necessary anymore as the pain slowly lessened, and it disappointed me. It was almost like an old friend by now.
I had another fear of taking the medication. It reminded me of the house party where I had a reaction to the pill the ‘doctor’ gave me. I didn’t want to ever put Brandt in that predicament again. Even if this medication had been prescribed by a real physician, it still bothered me to talk it thinking about how I hurt him that night.
My parents were set to leave tomorrow, and I couldn’t believe it had been a week since the kidnapping and miscarriage. Brandt and I still did not sleep together, and I was grateful for his understanding. My father had standards, and Brandt at least tried to adhere to them even though it was his house.
My constant fatigue seemed ironic since I couldn’t sleep through the night. Unable to get more than two to three hours’ worth of sleep in a row, I instead took naps frequently throughout the day. My mother worried about my exhaustion, insisting I needed a nap. I gave in to her request not wanting to disappoint her. When I entered my bedroom and curled up in the bed I fell fast asleep. Blissfully, this time there were no dreams.
When I took Ami to the airport, she didn’t give me advice, one of the many traits I liked about her. She accepted the things she could not change and in the end, she just told me to keep her informed and call if I needed anything. She promised to fly back and visit as soon as she could and at least it was one promise I hoped would come true.
Driving back from the airport yet again, the craziness known at the Moltke clan was almost over. Chelsea’s parents would fly out early tomorrow, and then we could get back to our lives. Return to the way things were before. Forget our horrible ordeal all and move on.
I watched as Chelsea’s mother suffocated her throughout the last week. She forced her to eat and made all her decisions. Was it like this back in Wisconsin? Was this the reason she moved out of the house as soon as she could? I would’ve too. It couldn’t be healthy for her.
I missed the contact she avoided with me when her father was near. At least, I had hoped that was the reason. Soon we would be alone again and I could hold her in my arms. Comfort her in whatever way she desired.
Chelsea needed to get back to her routine. She napped more frequently now, and had never napped as much in the past, I knew the constant sleep made her feel worse. As strange as it was thinking about it, I knew she needed to start cleaning again. Not that the house wasn’t spotless from her family, but she needed to get back to her old self. I even missed her damn quirks.
When I returned to the house, I found Barb and Ed out on the deck. They were out there more often, and I wondered if they shared their daughter’s love for the ocean or if they just didn’t want to be in my house. Regardless, I kept up my hospitality like Chelsea would have wanted and I went out to talk with them.
“Brandt, did Ami’s plane take off okay?”
I really didn’t think she cared about Ami’s plane ride all that much, but I appeased her. “No delay in her flight. She is probably in the air as we speak.”
We stood by the deck railing, their voices quiet despite the wind whipping around us, making it hard for conversation. To my dismay, Chelsea was currently taking another damn nap, either due to her constant fatigue or her avoidance of me. Searching the ocean for an impossible explanation, I stood next to them, looking more at the water than at them, and evading their accusing glares. The ocean grounded me. One day soon I would stand right here with Chelsea in my arms and just gaze on it together, regardless of what her parents thought of me.
Barb nodded and smiled in her diminutive way. I watched as Ed and she exchanged a look, but couldn’t figure out the purpose behind it. She placed her hand on my arm and talked in a low voice. I already knew it wouldn’t be something I would want to hear.
“Ed and I were thinking maybe it would be better if we brought Chelsea back with us tomorrow. Back to Wisconsin.” Alarm bells rang in my head at the thought of Chelsea leaving me. Not now, not when we were so close to getting our lives back in order.
“Chelsea doesn’t need to go to Wisconsin. Her life is right here with me.” Ed’s eyes dropped at my stare. Yes, Ed, I know you don’t like it but tough shit. She stays with me.
Barb didn’t give up as easy, “But we are her family. We can help her through this.”
“Like you did the last one? As I recall she didn’t have much of a life for six years after that.” Barb recoiled at my abrasive nature. They didn’t think I was good for her. Maybe they were right. Maybe I didn’t deserve Chelsea but I couldn’t give up without a fight.
Barb’s wide-eyed expression was replaced with a stern look. The same look she used on her five children to lay down the law. I had no doubt Ed wore the pants in the family but Barb was also a force to reckon with.
“Brandt, she needs us--”
Ed didn’t let her finish. “Barb, you heard the boy. He wants her to stay here.” His agreeance shocked me. Did I just hear him right?
“But she is hurting, and she shouldn’t be here all alone all the time.” So, that was it? I couldn’t protect her with me on the road all the time. They blamed me for it all. Hell, I blamed me for it all, but I didn’t enjoy hearing it from them.
Ed and Barb turned to look at the French doors at the back of the house as Chelsea came out of them. She heard us arguing, but I didn’t know how much she understood of our conversation. It didn’t change my mind in the matter.
Turning back to them, I made sure they heeded my intentions. “Chelsea is staying here where she belongs, and that is final.”
Looking back at Chelsea I wondered if she would agree. Did she want to stay? Was I keeping her here? I didn’t care. I needed her here, and if she left, I would follow her like before. I would bring her back to me because without her I couldn’t survive.
Fuming, I left them all to go into the kitchen and grabbed my keys. I needed to leave before I did something I would regret. I knew from my past experiences it was better to leave and cool down. The only sensible thing to do was to put some much-needed distance between us until I could compose myself.
After a long drive by the coast, I returned home, relieved to find them all sleeping. Even Chelsea. It wouldn’t surprise me if they spent the whole night talking her into moving away with them but I wouldn’t let her. She needed me. At least I hoped she did.