A Different Blue Page 68

Jack and Tiffa were unable to get home. The storm that had caused flooding in Las Vegas caused a blizzard in Reno as the massive storm stretched from one end of the state to the other. The airport in Reno had been shut down by the blizzard, and flights weren't scheduled to resume until morning. I managed to eat and was dozing off when Wilson returned. The lights were off in my room, but it wasn't truly dark. My room had a “lovely view” of the parking lot and the orange-yellow streetlights below cast a burnished glow into my darkened room. Wilson tried to sit unobtrusively in the corner chair, but the chair squeaked loudly, and he cursed quietly.

“You didn't have to come back.” My voice sounded scratchy and wrong to my own ears, hoarse, like I'd been screaming for hours.

Wilson sank down into the noisy rocker, resting his elbows on his knees and propping his chin in his hands. I had seen him do this before, and it brought a sudden rush of tenderness so intense that I gasped.

“Are you hurting?” he asked softly, misinterpreting the sound.

“No,” I whispered. It was a lie, but at the moment the truth was too complicated.

“Did I wake you?”

“No,” I repeated. Silence magnified the sounds in the room and in the corridors beyond. Squeaking wheels chirped down the hallway, the squelching sound of sneakers on the linoleum floor. A nurse entered the room across the hall with a cheerful “How we doin'?” And I found myself listening for sounds I couldn't hear. Straining to hear a baby's cry. My mind traveled down the hall and into the nursery where a child lay unclaimed.

“Did you hold her?” I asked suddenly. Wilson straightened in his chair, and his eyes searched my face for clues in the murky light of the room.

“No,” it was his turn to reply. Again, silence.

“She's all alone, Wilson.”

He didn't argue that Tiffa was on her way or that my baby was being taken care of and was most likely sleeping. Instead, he stood up and approached the bed. I was curled up on my side, facing him, and he squatted down so his eyes were level with mine. We studied each other silently. And then he brought his hand up and laid it gently against my cheek. Such a simple gesture. But it was my undoing. I closed my eyes and cried, blocking out his stormy grey eyes, the understanding there, the compassion. Eventually, I felt him lay down beside me on the narrow bed and wrap his arms around me, pulling me up against him. Occasionally, he would stroke my hair or shush softly, but he made no comment as my heavy grief saturated the pillow beneath my head.

A nurse entered the room once and turned around and went right back out. Wilson made no attempt to move or retreat to the chair in the corner.

“You never told me the ending of the story,” he murmured much later.


“The hunter and the star girl? Did they live happily ever after?”

“Oh,” I remembered drowsily. “No . . . not exactly. She stayed with him, and they had a child. They were happy, but the girl started to miss the stars.” I paused, fighting the lethargy that was stealing over me. I continued, my voice fading with every word. “She wanted to see her family. So she wove a large basket and collected gifts for her family, things from the earth that you couldn't find in the sky. She placed the basket in the magical circle, put the gifts and her son inside, and climbed into the basket herself. Then she sang a song that caused the basket to rise into the sky. White Hawk heard the song and ran to the clearing, but he was too late. His wife and child were gone.” I felt myself drifting into sleep, exhaustion muddling my thoughts, making speech difficult. I wasn't sure if I dreamed it, or if Wilson actually spoke.

“That story sucks,” Wilson whispered sleepily in my ear. I smiled but was too far gone to respond.

Chapter Twenty-Two

Tiffa and Jack got to the hospital about five o'clock the next day. Wilson had moved to the chair sometime while I slept and had received the call letting us know they had arrived. He went out to meet them when my nurse came in to chart my condition and take my blood pressure. I was eager to leave the hospital and was dressed and waiting to be discharged when I heard a light knocking. Tiffa stuck her head around the heavy hospital door and called to me.

“Can we come in, Blue?”

I answered yes, and she and Jack walked into the room hand in hand. Tiffa had pulled her hair off her face into a curly up-do, but somehow she still managed to look chic and put together. Jack looked worn out. They had waited at the airport most of the night and all morning, waiting for flights to resume. But they were smiling broadly, and Tiffa was practically vibrating. Without warning, she pulled me into her arms and promptly burst into tears. Jack wrapped his arms around the two of us and commenced sniffling as well. I felt emotion swell in my chest and rise in my throat until swallowing was impossible. I held myself as still as I possibly could, as if movement would dislodge my control. I recited the alphabet backwards in my head, “Z, Y, X, W, V, U, T . . .” focusing my eyes beyond Tiffa and Jack. Wilson stood by the door. My eyes locked on his and immediately shifted away. “J, H, I, G, F, E . . .” I recited silently. But my efforts at distraction did not prevent me from hearing Tiffa's heartfelt thanks.

“She's beautiful, Blue. She's absolutely beautiful. I can see you in her . . . and that makes me so happy.” Tiffa whispered between sobs. “Thank you, Blue.”

I had to pull away. For my own survival, I had to pull away. They let me go, but Tiffa clasped my hands in hers. She seemed unconcerned with the fact that tears still streamed down her cheeks. I marveled at her ability to cry without shame or embarrassment.

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