Ziggy was much better at pumping Remo for information. He quickly determined that the reason Claire was in Tennessee and not Kansas was that her high-falutin’ religious leader husband had dropped her like a hot potato when they figured out that her problem wasn’t her gallbladder after all, but cancer of the pancreas.
I didn’t even know what the pancreas was, but it didn’t sound good. I told Remo I’d call Courtney and we’d figure out what we were going to do.
Ziggy meanwhile had joined me on the floor. “Jeezus fucking christ, she wasn’t she married to a guy who preached that divorced people go to hell?”
“Uh, I think it was second marriage for both of them,” I said. My pinky was still numb, but maybe all of me was right then.
He was already dialing my sister’s number. He handed me the phone when she came on. “Hey.”
“Hey.” She could hear the tone of my voice wasn’t good. “You all right?”
“Just talked to Remo. You were right. Claire’s in Tennessee with Janine. She’s got cancer.”
“What!” The sharp, loud word hit me like a punch.
It took me a minute to recover. “I know. That’s what I said. Think about it, Court. She had to have already been sick when we saw her in Kansas.”
“Shit. I knew as soon as I saw a Memphis phone number… Shit shit shit. And I have finals coming up. Let me call Janine. I’ll call you back.”
She hung up. Ziggy took the phone back. “Memphis, huh?”
“Yeah. Who are you calling?”
“A travel agent.”
He laid the phone down on the floor, took both my hands in his and stared into my eyes. “Daron. Don’t mess with this. Trust me on this. Okay?”
I searched his eyes for several breaths. “Okay.”
But the travel agent he called was actually Carynne, who of course had to be filled in on the whole situation. I didn’t really feel like I had the strength, but somehow I did. “Yeah, so, it turns out my mother’s got some kind of cancer. Pancreatic, I guess? And she’s living with my sister, and Remo’s there, and I don’t know what to do.”
“You get on a plane,” Ziggy said. His head was next to mine while we shared the phone receiver.
“Is that what you want to do?” Carynne asked.
“You mean, do I want to have to go visit the woman who wished she’d never had me and pretend to be sympathetic because if I don’t my sisters will probably tear me limb from limb like rabid wolves?”
“Um, is that a yes or a no?”
“No, I don’t want to, but I guess I’ve pretended she didn’t exist long enough.”
Carynne sucked on her teeth. “I bet Remo could use your emotional support.”
“Yeah, that’s true.” That was very very true.
“I’ll start looking at flights and stuff. I won’t book anything until I talk to you again, though. She’s not, like, um, on her deathbed right this second, is she?”
“Remo didn’t specify. I don’t think so, but I don’t know.”
“It’s okay, Daron. We’ll figure it out.”
Eventually I was not on the phone and Ziggy was just hugging me on the floor of the kitchen. “I was going to ask how your afternoon was, but I guess I know,” he said.
“Yeah. My pinky’s numb.”
“I hope it’s temporary. It seems… like a kind of small thing right now.”
“Well, it is the smallest finger.”
“True.” I held him close and smelled the sweat in his hair. “How was your dance workout?”
“Grueling. And now I’m starved. But if you don’t want to go out, I’ll just get five pounds of chicken wings delivered.” He gnawed playfully on my shoulder. “I know you don’t feel hungry now, but you will when there’s food in front of you.”
Yeah, that sounded like me. “How do you do that?”
“Be upset one minute and cheerful the next?”
He shifted beside me until he could look at my face. “You’ve asked me that before. The answer’s still the same. Compartmentalization.”
“Ah.” That did sound familiar.
“I can be upset about one thing and happy about another. As long as I keep them separate in my mind.” He picked up the phone again. “So? Chicken wings? Or would you rather have pizza?”
“Chicken wings would be fine.”
He kissed me then in that way that very definitely meant “everything’s going to be okay.” I knew it wasn’t, but I decided to keep that knowledge separate in my mind from the part of me that was focused on him right then. I kissed him back, trying to tell him how grateful I was he was there.
I think he got the message.
Site News: Hey folks, mark your calendars for the following DGC-related dates coming up! June 19th: bookstore release day for the Everafter Romance bookstore editions of the DGC paperbacks! Let’s do an online party, eh? It’s been forever since Daron did an online chat with you all! August 18 or 19, DGC fan meetup in the San Francisco Bay area (exact date and details TBD). November 5-11, DGC 9th Anniversary Celebration! I’m planning an online chat and other fun surprises for that week! And January 2019… roughly speaking, I figure January 2019 is when we’re going to hit the 1000th post of DGC. Yeah, that’s coming. What do you guys think we should do to celebrate? -ctan