"I still... I still talk to him sometimes." She says it like she's expecting him to react badly, as if he'll call an ambulance or hit her or something.
He doesn't. He nods. "Me too. Sometimes."
Effy wants to ask what Cook talks about, what he tells Freddie, the things he wants him to know. But she worries that it's too personal and Cook will get upset, or, worse, that he'll want to know what she talks to Freddie about.
It all feels so precarious, a cautious balancing act. Sometimes, most of the time, it feels like walking on eggshells, like picking her way through a minefield; she doesn't know what's going to set Cook off, how he'll respond, how she'll respond. Her own reactions take her by surprise. She can feel how careful Cook's being, his unwavering devotion, the intensity of his concern. They're caught up in their own emotions, their own grieving mourning, but it's intricately intertwined with each other's.
Her own guilt feels heavy, relentless, but she's so keenly aware of Cook's regrets and self recriminations that she wants to hide it from him, keep him from the burden. His emotional baggage is hefty enough without adding the bulk of hers to it too.
But that's the problem. They're Cook and Effy; their feelings are complex counterparts. They blame themselves for each other's suffering, for Freddie, for the whole fucked up thing. They're trying so hard to disguise the way they feel. Effy worries that if Cook knew some of the things she feels or thinks or believes, it would destroy him. Cook's trying so hard to protect Effy. She doesn't want to make him feel worse by knowing the way she feels, the shit that's in her head and her nightmares and the fucking guilt.
It's pervasive. It's complicated, layered. There's the obvious and understandable, like her sense of responsibility for what happened with John Foster, but there's also the more subtle, the type of shit that sneaks up on her, like the date or the weather or a song on the radio that Freddie will never get to hear, all the little things. And sometimes she forgets for a moment and she smiles or she laughs, and then she wonders if it's normal to resent herself for being happy, however briefly.
Sometimes she thinks of things she wants to tell him, starts tapping out a text message or scrolling through her phone to get to his number. She didn't realise how reliant on him she'd become until he wasn't there anymore. She didn't understand how much of her life he'd invaded until he was dead.
Everything reminds her of him. It's not just songs on the radio or shitty new TV shows he would have spent hours mocking. It's her. He's in her head and she talks to him. Not all the time. It's not like how it was, when she was really crazy, with the voices and the demons. He doesn't talk back. Sometimes she can see him, in her head, but it's hazy, and he doesn't look quite right, like she's remembered the quirk of his eyebrow wrong or the exact colour of his eyes.
Sometimes she wants to remember everything exactly as it was, to cling to it, forever, and never forget or let it fade. She worries about forgetting his face, the sound of his voice or his laugh, his smile or the way he shook his head when he was disapproving. She even wants to keep the bad parts. She feels like that old woman in the wedding dress with the clocks all stopped, like if she just stays here, surrounds herself with his stuff, with the memories, with him, and keeps the outside world away, then...
"I'm never going to forget him, ever, and I don't want to, but... I don't think I want to live like this forever either. Would he mind? If we...if I was happy?"
Cook finds himself thinking of his dad's boat, of Freddie asking him to be all right with Effy choosing to be without him. Effy didn't choose this, but she's got to suffer through it anyway. "No, princess."