Who will bring me flowers when it's over? And who will give me comfort when it's cold? Who will I belong to when the day just won't give in? And who will tell me how it ends and how it all begins? - Flowers For a Ghost- Thriving Ivory
She peered into the car mirror to see Tom reading, or rather pretending to read as he had yet to turn the page even once. There was something on his mind, but it was hard to tell what he was thinking about now. It was possible that he was working out something when they stopped at the three mile mark, and clearly it was still on his mind now that they were an hour from their destination.
"What's on your mind?"
He scooted forward, scratching the place where the seat belt had rubbed against his neck. "Why did you take off your wedding ring?"
She thought carefully about the answer she would give him. "I want you to know that I do love your father, but know that I am very angry and confused right now." She glanced into the rear view mirror, as he slumped down in his seat.
"Are you sure that you're not mad at me like you're mad at him?" She thought about putting her foot on the break; the intersection was lined with cars both ways. It appeared that there was some kind of car accident or blockage ahead.
Turning around, she stretched her legs onto the passenger seat. "Of course I'm not mad at you. Why would you think that?"
"If I hadn't followed Dad that night, maybe. . . maybe Danny would still be alive."
A cold shudder ran through her body as she turned around to look at the standstill traffic. She didn't have the heart to tell him that his father might have done other things to his friend, maybe even to him if he hadn't been there that night. The thought caused her stomach to pull into knots. "Can I ask you something?"
He shrugged in response. "Why didn't you come to me that night?"
He looked down at his hands; a look of torment crossed his expression. "I didn't want to get in trouble for sneaking out of the house, and I didn't want Dad to get in trouble."
Sighing, she looked out the front window of the car; the car in front of her still hadn't moved an inch since she had last checked. "Look Tom—I know that I haven't really been there for you or Dylan the past few months. I'm sorry. I got so consumed trying to catch who killed Danny-"
"It's okay." He shrugged, bending over to put his book back into his bag.
"No, it's not. If I hadn't been working so hard, I wouldn't have taken those sleeping pills and maybe I could have caught Danny's killer sooner than we did."
Tom struggled to keep eye contact with her. "What would you have done if you knew it was him? I mean what did you do when you found out it was Dad?"
She considered what to tell him and what to leave out as she looked over at Dylan, who was now sucking his thumb in comfort as he slept in his car seat. "I remember begging it not to be him. I wanted it not to be him."
Closing his eyes, he rested his head against the car window. "I wanted to tell you-"
"I know you did." Stretching out her hand, he didn't pull away, which was a relief as her hand finally relaxed on his knee.
"I'm tired. Can we talk more about this later?" Nodding, she turned back around in her seat, her fingers drumming on the steering wheel. Just as she felt herself losing patience, the car in front of her began to move forward.
When you try your best, but you don't succeed. When you get what you want, but not what you need. When you feel so tired, but you can't sleep. Stuck in reverse. -Fix You; Coldplay
"Owen, it's Ellie." Having parked her car the nearby pay phone at the gas station, she glanced over in the back seat to make sure the boys were still asleep.
"Where are you? I came by the hotel and the guy at the front desk said you had already checked out."
"All you need to know right now is that we're safe."
"Okay, but you know it's not the same here without you guys."
"I know. But I think it's better that we get away for awhile." Dylan doesn't understand much, but Tom is having a really hard time with understanding everything that's going on."
"And you? How are you doing?"
"I'm okay." She said softly. "The boys are sleeping in the car, so I should probably check into the hotel soon."
"Hey, I want you to know that I'm on your side. If you need anything, please don't hesitate to call."
She paused momentarily to catch her breath. "Thank you."
Sleep baby sleep, what are you waiting for? The morning's on its way.
"Mom?" Tom stood near her hotel bed, his shadow looming over her as the moonlight filtered in through the crack in the curtain. The lamp clicked on, basking the room with a soft light. Upon closer inspection, his face was red, as if he had been crying; his body trembling from head to toe.
"Tom, what is it?"
He bit down on his lower lip, as if he were regretting waking her. "Forget it." He pulled away as she caught his arm, just above his elbow. She pulled him back, making him sit down again as she slipped out of the covers.
"You no longer get to avoid talking to me." She half teased, although her tone was serious as she sat next to him on the bed. When he didn't respond, she nudged him with her shoulder and wrapped her arm around him. He sat stiffly beside her, staring across the room. "You know when you were Dylan's age, you used to love to crawl into bed with me." He continued to stare ahead. "You used to have nightmares."
They sat there for a few moments in silence before he responded in a monotone tone. "I saw Danny." He slowly turned towards her. "We were running. I couldn't stop him from falling-"
"What happened was not your fault."
"Then why am I having these dreams? Why can't I save him?"
Intertwining her fingers, she set her hands in her lap. "If there's anything I've learned in life is that sometimes things are out of our control." She looked around the room, concluding her point.
"I wanted to save him." He chimed in, as if he were finally starting to mourn the loss of his best friend.
"I know you did." She held onto him tightly as the sky grew lighter; a new day starting their journey.