Note: This is an extension of last week. Work in progress, feedback welcome/desperately requested.
Paige was married for six years before her husband killed himself. They had been trying to get their lives in normal working order, to be a particular kind of family, and he had been on and off some pills for depression. Paige’s second miscarriage was too much for him. Maybe it was the realization that they weren’t the people they had been so long trying to be, that they had sacrificed so much time trying for something they wouldn’t get. Maybe it was knowing there was nothing they could do but keep trying; maybe the prospect of failing again made him opt out altogether. Maybe it was the lethal dose of chemicals—or the lack of chemicals in the places they needed to be—in his brain. We’d all speculated all of the possible reasons at first, to pacify Paige. It became an obsession of hers, like some version of Clue—Ray in the brain with the chemical imbalance—rather than what it actually was, Ray in the garage with the engine running.
“That bastard,” Chase had said when he found out. He was on the phone with my dad and his reaction didn’t elicit any immediate urge to panic in me. It was the way he’d turned away from me and lowered his voice to ask how Paige was that made me turn the stove down and ask him for the phone. When he ignored me I knew something horrible had happened. I fell back from him, no longer curious, wanting to let him protect me from it. But he’d told me, as soon as he hung up the phone, in the same sweet way he told me he liked the dinner I cooked or the outfit I was wearing. I don’t remember what he said, I just remember his tone of voice. I remember thinking about how lucky I was to have him there, telling me that horrible thing in his way that could make everything manageable, bearable. That was four years ago. There is nothing left that I recognize in Paige except the knee jerk pang in my gut I get when I see her.