[Author's Note: Well, I just ashamed myself on tumblr, and as a matter of fact, tumblr is kind of broken right now, and I'm not sure what's happening. But the good news for all of you is that because my blogging isn't working out so well at the moment, I'm actually writing stuff for a change. I don't know how many chapters I'll get up this weekend: the goal was three, but that's seeming less likely the more I think about it. Anyway, enjoy. If you're still enjoying this, please tell me so. I've been in need of a little inspiration lately. Also, how would you guys feel if I threw in some of Collins' POV in the near (such as possibly next chapter) future?]
Chapter Thirty-Two: Scour
December 17, 8:30 PM, EST
"Just… bond or something! I'll be back in a couple hours!" Maureen calls on her way out the door.
"Look," Collins begins as soon as she's gone, "I'm really sorry Maureen just invited me to stay here without mentioning it to you. I can figure something else out if you want."
"No, no. Really," I tell him, "there's no point in that. There isn't actually a second bed, but the couch is free for the taking. Make yourself at home." We're sitting on the couch right now, drinking Diet Coke, and essentially ignoring the various newscasters flashing across the TV screen.
"Don't mention it," I tell him. For a few minutes we listen to a report about the oil spill in Alaska; I doubt that this is what Maureen was suggesting when she told us to 'bond'.
But after a little while, Collins asks, "Can I tell you something?"
"Yeah, of course."
"I haven't seen her look this healthy in years."
For a little while I just look at him. "Really?" I finally ask. I can tell the hesitation in my voice worries him.
"Really. And I'm not saying this to put pressure on you or anything, but it's clear that you're the reason for it." I nod slowly. "I have to ask, though, do you really have any idea what you've gotten yourself into with her- I mean, don't take that the wrong way- I love the kid, but… she has more than her fair share of problems, you know?"
"Yeah… Yeah, I've got a pretty good idea of it." I don't say anything for quite some time, though I'm sure he can tell I'm trying to.
"What is it?" he finally asks.
"Well, it's just… I feel like she'd be mad at me for telling you-"
"So it's probably something I should know about."
"It might not hurt." He makes a gesture that says 'go on'. "You know that letter she sent you where she said that she hadn't been cutting herself or anything?" He nods. "She didn't want you to know because she thought you'd think she was lying, but, um… there was one day…"
"Oh, no. You at least knew… I mean, you had known then that that… happens… right?"
"Yeah," I say quickly.
"You want to explain?"
"Sure, it might be good, I guess… Uh, let's see… Well, we were both doing our makeup, you know, and I asked her why she was so attached to the red lipstick."
"Oh, yes. You can about imagine what happened from there, I'm sure."
Collins nods. "How bad did it get?"
"I don't really know, I guess. Nothing to compare it to."
"Did she pass out?"
"She was close, but she didn't."
"Really? How long- I mean, wait- how did she end up with the knife in her hand if you guys were in the same room?"
"She thought I was lying to her, so she stormed out and locked herself in the bedroom. She had about six, seven minutes before I got in there, but I don't know when in that window the knife came into the picture."
Collins doesn't answer for a long time, and I start to worry I've said something I shouldn't have. But as soon as he speaks, I realize it. "Joanne, can you offer any explanation of why there was a knife in your bedroom?" I can feel myself blanch.
"You don't think…?"
"I think it would be in everyone's best interest if we scoured this place before she gets back."