"I could tell she was happy, you know?"
"How? You know her, George, she isn't so easy to read. Not like the rest of us."
The laptop stares back at you, half-aware that you are nibbling at your lower lip. You reach over for a glass of milk but hate the warm feeling as it reminds you of Sundays and open remarks about her dress and her weight. You get up from your chair and take your bottle of Jack Daniels from the top shelf in the kitchen; behind the steel plates and can of salt. You walk back to your chair. You see a new message from Cara and you lean your head against the bottle. You sit on the chair and read the message slowly.
"She is the nicest person you'll ever meet, yes, but she could be hell too..."
"Look, I miss her. Do you remember that night in the bar where she actually got drunk? She loved you then but she was gone."
"Are you still there?"
"Yes. I miss her too."
"What did she tell you? In those last moments of her life, did she...tell you the truth?"
"I hardly know the difference between lies and truth. She told me things but I don't know if they were the truth."
"What do you think?"
"I know nothing."
"Hmm...What did she say?"
"Do you want to talk about it? I'm here, you know."
"I'll tell you about it but first please tell about Ihano. What happened there?"
"What do you mean?"
"She stopped shining after then. She was happy but she wasn't shining anymore. She was over long before she erased the smile."
"I don't know what to tell you except that she was great."
"She disappeared on me. We were dancing at the bar and then she was gone. She came back an hour or two later but she was different."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"I thought nothing of it. She left with Riley. Maybe ask her. Those two were best friends!"
"Riley won't talk to me. Not since the funeral."
"I don't know...What did Ruthie tell you before she died?"
You ease back from the chair and look at the clock. The time is 2:30. You groan and close your eyes for a moment. You see a new message pop up on the screen and you ignore it because you know you'll probably lie about it too. And she knows it too.
"I know it's probably hard for you but...just so you know, I am here if you need a friend. We'll talk later. I need to prepare for lunch. #pasta."
She logs out before you even have a chance to text her back. You are hungry but your lips are stiff so you drag back your head and gulp down a large amount of Jack Daniels. You love the hot feeling as it slips into you. It keeps you momentarily warm and it sort of ignites a fire inside of you.
You put both hands on the keys of the laptop, one holds a wedding band and the other a big black scar. You don't know when or how but you start typing and you don't stop.
It's hell, you know? I still see her in my dreams. I still see her sobbing in the rickety staircase and I can't comfort her no matter how hard I try. I kind of remember last Summer. We went on a picnic, just Ruthie and I, and we ate sandwiches and drank cold lemonade. Funny how I still remember her expression as I rushed over the snacks. She was stern but it was so hilarious. We somehow laughed over it. But now that I think about it, I was the only one who'd laughed. She changed.
She had a light. You saw it right? But after Ihano, it was gone. I need to know what happened. I'll tell you the truth then. In those last days of her life, she kept saying they took the light. I asked her what she meant but she said nothing else. They took her light."
You do not read over the text to check for grammar errors or bad spellings. You send it to her email and you sit and wait. You give your apartment with the white walls, a cursory gaze and you whisper self-destructive words to your reflection on the mirror before you. You sigh deeply and then you wait for a new message, a reply, a meaning to the mess inside your head. You wait and ten minutes later, you get a new mail.
DIVORCE APPLICATION FORM
JOINT COMPLAINT, PETITION OR DECLARATION OF SIMPLIFIED DIVORCE
We, George Connor(husband) and Ruthie Connor(wife) make the following declaration:
You stop for a while. You breathe deeply but you cannot read the rest. You see the name of the sender and you sigh because you have always expected that your wife's best friend who is also a divorce lawyer would send you what your wife kept telling you in the last days of her life.
A new message comes up and you settle uncomfortably in your chair.
"I saw your mail. George, I'm so sorry."
"Riley just sent me a mail. I will forward it to you. Tell me what you think."
You forward the mail to her and wait. You know she is reading it, hands in her jeans. Then you realize that all you've been doing is wait. You wait by the stove; by the kitchen sink; in the bathroom; in the sturdy. You wait.
"This is absurd!"
"Ruthie told me she filed for a divorce but she is dead now. I mean, does that still count?"
"But she loved you. She told us that at Ihano."
"And she disappeared for a while. Then she came back and told me they took her light. She wanted a divorce."
"Do you think that that is the reason Riley's been acting weird? I mean, she should know what happened to Ruthie that night, right?"
"Maybe. Do I still need to sign it? Ruthie signed hers before she died. She wanted that so much, she practically begged me to divorce her. Now that she is gone, do I still need to?"
"Not if you don't want to."
"I loved her, Cara. She was happy before Ihano. She was..."
"Her light was more like magic. I don't believe in that but how else can I explain what her light meant?"
"She had magic!!"
"At Ihano right before she disappeared, she performed a new trick with her mind. She disintegrated a bowl and put it back together without touching it. You could see the grounded mix of the bowl in one second and then the bowl was back, untouched in the next second. It was scary but beautiful. It was her light."
"She did not tell me that."
"Because after she came back, I asked her to perform the trick again and she said she couldn't. I always thought she had been tired."
"She told me they stole her light. Who would do that?"
"I don't know. Why don't you talk to Riley? Ask her about the divorce papers and then bring up the topic of Ihano. She should know."
"Maybe. How's the #pasta."
"I'll talk to her. Maybe through dinner."
"She loves Naomis."
You take out your cell phone and call Riley up. She takes the call almost immediately, as though she had been expecting the call.
"Hey, Riley. I saw the mail. Could we meet up tonight? At Naomis?"
"Busy. Let's chat. I'll explain everything over there."
You watch your computer, waiting for a new message. Riley's message is the first you receive.
"If you're gonna ask about Ihano, I have no answer other than it was there she told me she wanted to end it."
"She was happy. I could tell because she was my wife."
"She was not happy. She was tired. She was tired after the fight. You hit her, George."
"She told you that?"
"She showed me. Her light. She showed me and she asked me to help her. I did."
"What did you do? You took her light?"
"I helped her. Now go over the files I sent you and tell me what you decide. Good luck."
You close your eyes for a moment. You think no more.