Old Bones – Part 2
The projects at the house kept Stephen away for too long every day. The needs of the children had been too great. Marian had slipped away without him even knowing. The phone had gone unanswered as he chased the drink while running from the truth. It had been the drink, he had told himself, that had made him lose her. The barn was a crumbling shell of its old vibrant self now. A place for the anger and guilt to stay locked away and hidden as the rodents and rot crept its way through it.
“Stephen!” a familiar voice called from the other room. “What are you doing in there?”
It can’t be, he thought, pulling off the mask as he pushed himself up from his chair.
He could hear Carson’s voice echoing through the mono speaker on the side of the set. He could see the flicker of light around the corner. His legs threatened to give out on him as his heart raced in his chest, sending occasional spikes of pain out through his shoulder. So focused on the voice and the television, he took no notice of his right hand casually stroking his left arm.
“Marian!” he gasped as he came around the corner to see her sitting as beautiful as ever in her chair, “How-”
“You’re missing the show, Stephen. Get in here! He’s almost done with his monologue!” she beamed, “It’s going to be a great show, Don Knotts is on tonight!”
“He died years ago…” Stephen mumbled as he walked over to his chair.
“Don’t be ridiculous! Don’s fine,” she said, waving him off and turning her attention back to the screen, “honestly you’d think I would have heard if one of the greatest talents the world has ever seen would have died. It would be a national tragedy.”
Stephen sat down and reached for her hand, “I miss you.”
Her eyes were glued to the set as Carson finished talking. The show cut to a commercial and Marian looked over at him with eyes that looked tired. Too tired. His hand touched hers to feel the shock of cold course through him.
“I miss you too, Stephen,” she replied, placing a hand gently on his face. This time the hand felt warm and welcoming, “You work too much. The kids and I all miss you. You should come home more.”
“Marian, why are you here? Where have you been? It’s been years…” he faltered, tears threatening to overwhelm him.
“I have been with you since we were teenagers, Stephen,” she said with her blue eyes shining in the light. “Until death do we part.”
“But you did-” he faltered again, unable to bring himself to say it.
“And you didn’t,” she replied suddenly looking sad again. “I’ve been with you as I’ve always been with you.”
“Why come to me now? Why today? After the way I failed you…”