Disclaimer: Oh to be Julie Taymor or one of the Beatles. Unfortunately, I am not.
She spends most of her time waiting for people to come home, which would be pathetic if she didn't find it so damn soothing. Counting down the days makes it easier to deal with; Lucy's always found comfort in numbers.
17 days until Max comes home for Thanksgiving; 34 days until Daniel gets back on furlough ("No matter what, I'll be home for Christmas," he wrote, his untidy scrawl reminding her of notes passed in Geometry and handwritten valentines). Letters from both her boys have been pretty thin on the ground, so she cherishes the words she can get.
Homecoming was 2 weeks ago; it was the first time Lucy'd ever been dateless to a dance. She'd smiled woodenly as her friends clucked and cooed over her; it was easier to be hollow in the moment than miserable in her memories.
Freshman year Max had taken her because Mom wouldn't have let her go otherwise. She had no idea what had made her think that Max was a more responsible escort than any of Lucy's classmates, but she certainly didn't complain. They didn't end up spending much time in the streamer-bedecked gym… it had taken Max all of 15 minutes to duck away from the watchful eyes of the chaperones. He spent the night drunkenly necking with his then-girlfriend Joan underneath the football bleachers and Lucy'd hung out with his friends. The reefer they'd passed around to her took the edge off being the tag-along little sister, and she'd tried not to be too flattered when Bill Wilson told her she had kaleidoscope eyes.
Sophomore year had been Daniel, all nerves from beginning to end. New to the football team, a weak slip of a thing, sweaty palms and stuttering tongue as he'd nearly tripped down the stairs in an attempt to ask her to go with him. He'd looked her father in the eye and shook his hand when he came to pick her up, and for the first time she was glad that Max was at Princeton. Daniel was a perfect gentleman, stepping on her toes during the fast songs and holding her close for the slow ones, and he was all she talked about for the next three weeks.
Junior year she was punch drunk in puppy love, feeling like the belle of the ball with her newer, buffer Daniel. She was the only one unsurprised at his prowess as a quarterback, and was secretly vindicated by the jealous looks of the girls who wouldn't have given Daniel a second glance a year ago. Lucy had always been one to spot potential.
Senior year, all alone.
17, 34. It isn't so bad so long as she keeps count, with her red marker crossing x's on her calendar. She can wait.
- - -
3 days since "Mrs. Heath we regret to inform you that your son Daniel…" and the rest of the page unreadable, blurred by tears. She's been silent ever since she heard the news, because there's absolutely nothing to say.
4 days and she's running out of black clothing, but for god's sake what is she supposed to do, go shopping? Besides, Max's old sweater still smells like him, and it's okay if it doesn't fit because Max never fit in anyway, and wearing it makes her feel like he's at home with them.
5 days; his funeral, and all of a sudden, watching Mrs. Heath sob, she has no tears left. She welcomes the numbness.
6 days and she wonders how on earth she can ever leave her bed.
- - -
5 and 5 days and she's split down the middle. 5 days since they got the letter ("Dear Mrs. Carrigan, it is our duty to inform you that your son Maxwell…" and it was like she'd been punched in the stomach, and how many more people was she expected to lose?) and 5 days until she got on the bus in Boston and rode to New York to tell him so.
She hates her parents for burdening her with being the messenger, but she'd never let anyone else be the one to tell him. No one else understands what it's like, how even if he does come back it won't be the same, he won't be their Max anymore and… fuck, she thought she was done crying.
- - -
11 days, 5 hours, 24 minutes and 49 seconds (50, 51…) since Jude and she… since Jude. And she knows Max is leaving and Prudence is gone and the world is going to shit, but soft touches and gentle words help her to forget. She lies in bed beside him, keeping time to the in-and-out of his breath and the steadiness of his heartbeat. The music of his body is the only thing letting her sleep at night, and she's so, so grateful.
"It's gonna be alright" he sings when he thinks she's drifted off, and she smiles (25 minutes and 8, 9, 10 seconds…)
- - -
1 month, 1 day and 6 rallies after Columbia, she's cold as ice and every time she moves it's one step further away from Jude.
She doesn't even feel like Lucy anymore. All that's left in her is 3,000 miles of ocean, 1 missing brother, 1 oblivious family and 30,000 casualties and counting.
- - -
1 rooftop away from happiness and the 909 hours since her phone call to Mr. Hubert melt into nothing.
All she needs is love.