We Are Okay by Nina Lacour

We Are Okay by Nina Lacour

Author:Nina Lacour [Lacour, Nina]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Published: 2017-01-18T17:52:11+00:00

chapter eleven

ABOVE ME IS the head and neck of a deer. A buck, I guess. His antlers cast long and graceful shadows along the wall. I imagine him alive, in a field somewhere. I think about spring, grass and flowers, hoofprints and movement and a body, intact. But now there is stillness and drips of candle wax and quiet. There are the ghosts of who we used to be. There is the clink of Mabel setting our dinner bowls into Tommy’s sink, and the exhaustion that comes with knowing that something will have to happen next, and then after that, and on and on until it’s over.

We haven’t talked about sleeping yet. On the sofa are a set of sheets and a comforter, a reminder of the space we are supposed to share.

Maybe we’ll stay up all night.

Mabel returns from the kitchen. She crosses to the bookshelf and picks up a deck of cards.

She turns to show me, and I nod. She shuffles and deals ten for me, ten for herself, places a card faceup. Queen of spades. I can’t believe I didn’t buy a deck of cards for us. It would have answered the question of what to do each time it came up. We wouldn’t have had to trick ourselves into sleep to stave off the need for conversation.

We dive into gin rummy as though no time had passed. I finish the first round ahead twelve points, and Mabel gets up to find us a pencil and paper. She comes back with a Sharpie and a postcard mailer for a Christmas tree lot. Nothing beats the smell of fresh-cut pine, it says, and below the sentence are photographs of three types of fir trees: Douglas, noble, and grand. Mabel writes our names below a P.S.—We have wreaths, too!—and adds the score.

It’s a close game, which means it’s a long one, and by our last hand my vision keeps blurring from tiredness and the strain of seeing in the dark. Mabel keeps losing track of whose turn it is, even though there are only two of us, but in the end she calls gin and wins the game.

“Nice job,” I say, and she smiles.

“I’m gonna get ready for bed.”

The whole time she’s gone I don’t move. Maybe she wanted me to pull out the bed, but I’m not going to do it. It’s a decision we have to make together.

She comes back a few minutes later.

“Careful,” she says. “Some candles burned out. It’s really dark back there.”

“Okay,” I say. “Thanks.”

I wait for her to do or say something.

Finally, I ask, “So should we get the bed ready?”

Even in the dark, I can see her concern.

“Do you see other options?” I ask her. There are only a couple of chairs and the floor.

“That rug is pretty soft,” she says.

“If that’s what you want.”

“It isn’t what I want. It’s just . . .”

“He doesn’t have to know. And it’s only sleeping, anyway.” I shake my head. After everything, this is so stupid.


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