The phone rang loudly and Jen looked at it as if it were an alien object, resting her head on her hand from where she’d been leaned over the kitchen table, attempting to read an article on how to help children who had difficulty with words learn to spell. None of the well-crafted words had been filtering into her brain and it seemed as though the reason for the noise coming from the plastic appliance wasn’t having any more luck.
Finally, she reached over with a sigh and picked it up. “Hello?”
“Yeah - who’s this?” Some part of her cringed at her lack of manners, but she just didn’t have the energy to put forth any more of an effort.
“Hey, it’s Trun.”
It was all she could manage, what with the way the pit of her stomach seemed to drop at that. Even though he liked her, always had, Trunny wouldn’t be calling her just to chat. The only reason he’d be calling now was if something was wrong, most likely something that had to do with Wace. She didn’t want to know if something had gone wrong, because either she’d want to help him -- which she couldn’t do -- or she wouldn’t, which would bear staggering implications about just how badly he’d hurt her.
After a brief pause during which it became obvious she wasn’t going to say anything else, Trunny cleared his throat and continued, “Just thought you might wanna know, Wace’s dad died yesterday mornin’. We got hold o’ Barky an’ he’s comin’ home, so the funeral’ll be whenever he gets here, I guess. Want me ta let ya know?”
Finally regaining a little of her composure, Jen shook her head, despite the fact that he couldn’t see her, and answered. “Don’t bother; he wouldn’t want me there, Trun.”
She heard the silence on the other end, could imagine his disbelief and his arguments -- her own arguments: who would Wace lean on if she wasn’t there? Well, he could fuckin’ stand on his own two feet, that’s what; he’d bloody well made it clear her help wasn’t welcome.
“All right,” Trunny said finally, quietly, and Jen sighed into the phone.
“Thanks for callin’, though,” she offered. “Was a nice thought.”
“Yeah, well, you take care.”
“Thanks, Trun. You, too. Bye now.”
With that, the line went dead, and Jen lowered her head to the table, feeling the glossy pages of the magazine stick to her forehead in the humidity of the day. If only creative teaching for mildly dyslexic students could take her mind off this whole clusterfuck, things might be a lot better... or at least seem that way for a bit.
“Did you hear about the wreck this morning?”
Jen paused and looked up at the fourth year English teacher, Bridget Manning, where she was leaning into Jen’s empty classroom. The children had left school early that day, Thursday, and would tomorrow as well. Their break was starting that weekend, and they were always impossible to handle just before a holiday.
“No, I didn’t,” she said slowly, feeling a strange foreboding in the pit of her stomach as if what she heard next was going to shift the axis of her world.
“Some guy drove his car into a bridge out on Old King’s Highway. Damn lucky for him the bridge didn’t collapse on ‘im -- some trucker found ‘im totterin’ about early this mornin’. It was on the news -- frightful ugly mess, it was.”
“I don’t watch the news,” Jen commented absently, her mind spinning. “Did -- did they say who the guy was?”
“Who, the trucker?”
“No,” Jen answered, frustration thick in her tone. “The guy who had the wreck.”
“Oh, ‘im -- nah. Privacy an’ all that, I guess. Maybe ‘is family ‘asn’t been notified yet, so they can’t release the name.”
Her gut twisted and she nodded as Bridget waved and continued down the hall, her eyes focused on her desk but not seeing it. Something inside of her was convinced it was Wace and she thought crazily, He doesn’t have any family to be notified -- who’s going to take care of him now? Barky’s in Queensland and I... well, no one would call me anymore, I guess...
She thought of Coppa and Trunny and mentally crossed her fingers that, somehow, they would know.
You don’t even know it’s him, you crazy woman, she chided herself, shaking out of her melancholy. You just think that because you’re obsessed with him and everything’s always about Wace to you. Time to let it go, sister.
She nodded firmly, as if settling the matter once and for all, but she couldn’t get rid of the shadow of a doubt that lingered in the back of her mind.
- Razor's Edge - 29