The week passed, one long stretch of hazy days and nights that ran together. On his second night home from Florida, Marc took me out for dinner.
He was sympathetic sitting across the table from me. The restaurant was full and there was a din all around us that made it easy to talk without being overheard.
“She said things weren’t really all right. She was wearing the ring,” I paused, recalling the image from my dream.
I made a deep frown, struggling to control my voice. Recounting the dream from the week before, it was strange that no part of it had faded, as dreams so often do. But this had been more like a visit than a dream.
I was so sure she had been there with me.
He reached across the white tablecloth covered table, took my hand, and sighed. He’d known Eva, had a passing friendliness for and with her. But they weren’t close and he hadn’t lost any close friends to death. It was hard for him to understand what was happening to me. He really didn’t. He couldn’t.
I realized that I didn’t really want to talk to him about it because I didn’t have language to express the breadth and depth of my sadness and disbelief. He couldn’t understand being awash in an endless of ocean of grief with no paddle, no boat. Endless blue in every direction, whether it was sky or ocean there was no comfort in the landscape. Drowning. Marc always had at least two paddles and a compass. He always had North. Or at least he seemed like he did, and if he didn’t, he put on a good show.
“Rowan, I’m so sorry. I know this is horrible. Do you think the dream meant something?”
He gazed at me, waiting. The low, smooth sound of his voice had the effect of calming me. He was dressed in a shirt and tie and his dark hair was combed back from his face, cut short over his ears. He had come to pick me up after leaving his office, and taken me to the nicest little restaurant in the area, Chez Louis. Marc had a summer internship that paid for our dates and beer money for the school year. It was also decent experience. He was in his second year at UNH, majoring in mechanical engineering.
“I don’t know.” My eyes welled up again and I willfully stifled the tears that were threatening to ruin our dinner.
“It’s okay,” he took a handkerchief from his pocket. “Here.”
“Thank you,” I said, sniffling and dabbing at my eyes. “She seemed so real, so present.”
“You miss her,” he said gently.
I nodded. “Yes, but it’s more than that. It didn’t feel the same as other dreams feel, you know, disjointed…” I thought about her face, letting myself slip into a little reverie with the memory.
The candle at the table flickered.
Marc waited, leaning forward on his arms, watching me.
“Oh, forget it. Let’s drop it,” I said, feeling exposed and vulnerable. He was aware that I had a habit of responding to feelings before thinking things through. Impulsive. I didn’t want him to see me that way now. I wanted to be in control. I refolded my napkin for the seventieth time and smoothed it in my lap.
“Rowan, you’ve always had strong psychic impressions. You aren’t feeling guilty about not stopping her, are you?”
At that moment it seemed Marc was the one with the strong psychic impressions. I had been beating myself over the head since the night of the accident over that point. A failure.
“No. I tried. I couldn’t force her to let me drive. You know how Eva was. She was much too independent to let the likes of a bad gut feeling deter her from her plans.” I paused, thinking about that, how Eva was.
“I wish things had turned out differently,” I added, tears threatening again. “I wish she was here.” I meant that with all my heart. I ached to see her again. For a moment I humored myself, clearing my throat and looking around the room, as if she might appear. But I saw only strangers.
My eyes resettled on Marc who was still watching me intently. I wished we were alone and that I was leaning against him, his arms around me.
“I want to have dinner without breaking down to cry. Let’s talk about something else, okay?”
“Okay. How about we go park somewhere after dinner and fuck like a couple of rabbits? Would that be an appropriate distraction?” He leaned toward me, his eyes crinkling in a smile.
“More like an inappropriate distraction.” My cheeks flushed red and hot at the suggestion.
“Inappropriate, then. Whatever it takes.”