Always. Занятие 19

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Аудиоверсия занятия



Did James really pick up Cade from the hospital? If so, why didn’t he tell me? I reach for my phone and step outside to the hallway, where I pull up his number. It’s the prickly guy at the front desk again. Does he work seven days a week?


“Yes, I need to speak to James Keatley,” I say. “Is he available? It’s urgent.”


“Who’s calling?”


“Kailey Crain,” I say.


“Oh,” he says. “No, I’m sorry, he’s unavailable.”




“That’s right.”


I sigh. “That seems to be the state of things over there. As soon as he comes up for air, please have him call me.” I give him my number and he mutters some acknowledgment, then hangs up.


I put my phone back in my purse and look over at Cade, not sure what he’s thinking or feeling, but my heart seizes when I see a tear fall from his right eye and trickle down his cheek.


“Cade, are you hurting?”


He stares ahead, chin trembling slightly. I want so badly to comfort him. To heal his brain. To snap my fingers and make it all right and good again. But all I can do is be here with him. I feel that familiar pull, and without thinking I walk to his bedside and lie beside him. My stomach presses against his back and my hand reaches around and gently rests on his chest. I can hear every beat of his heart. His eyes flutter and close, and so do mine.


“Excuse me.” I hear a woman’s voice in the distance. Who? What? I open my eyes. Where am I? A moment later, the room comes into focus, and so does the face hovering over me. A nurse. A hospital room. I sit up and look around. Cade is still sleeping.


“I’m sorry,” I say. “I must have dozed off.” I rub my eyes. “What time is it?”


“Just about seven P.M.,” the nurse says.


“Oh no,” I say, panicking. I texted Ryan earlier to say I’d be home by six. I stand and reach for my purse, catching my disheveled reflection in the window.


“I have to leave,” I say. “I don’t want to wake him. But I’ll be back in the morning.”


The nurse, the same one who was so gentle with me in the elevator, is now checking the various monitors attached by wires and cords to Cade. She nods. “Don’t worry,” she says. “We’ll take good care of him.”


“Thank you,” I say, turning back to him, bearded and thin, his body in the shape of a crescent under the starchy hospital sheet. I hate to leave him, but I have to.


“Hi,” Ryan says from the couch as I walk in the door.


“Hi,” I say, setting my purse down on the bench in the entryway. “Remind me when your parents are arriving again?”


“Their flight’s delayed,” he says. “They may not be here until after eleven.”


“Oh no,” I say.


“I’ll wait up for them, but don’t feel like you have to. I know you’ve had a busy week.”


I nod, grateful for the chance to disappear upstairs.


“Hey,” he says, setting his laptop aside. “Someone from Harborview called an hour ago, left a message for you. Something about a brain injury center.”


My palms feel suddenly sweaty. Why would they call my home number? Then I remember that it’s the number on the top of our checks. “Huh,” I say, trying to figure out what to say. Fast.


“I wrote the number down here,” he says, setting a scrap of paper on the coffee table. “I mean, unless you have a brain injury you haven’t told me about.” He laughs. “I figured it was something for the Herald?”


“Yeah,” I say. “I mean, no, I don’t have a brain injury.” I laugh nervously.


“Come over here,” he says.


I nestle beside him on the couch and he weaves his fingers into mine.


“I just found out that I have to go back to Portland most of next week,” he says. “We’re at a crucial stage with the plans for the Pioneer Square project, and the details are too sensitive to handle by phone.” He squeezes my hand. “It’s a short workweek because of the Thanksgiving holiday. You could go with me, maybe. I know you prefer the beach, but we could walk along the river. You could write while I work. The change of scenery might do you some good.”


Half of my heart wants to stay, and the other half wants to go. But I can’t. Cade needs me. At least until he’s settled in his new apartment.


“I’d love to,” I say. “But I can’t next week.”


Ryan detaches his hand from mine and stands up abruptly. “I understand,” he says in a voice that tells me that he does not in fact understand, as he walks toward the front door.


“Ryan, I’m sorry, I”


“I get it,” he says, reaching for the dog’s leash. “I’m going to take Eddie on a walk. I’ll be back in a bit.” His eyes meet mine. I know he can detect my concern. “It’s okay,” he says as he zips up his coat.


But the thing is, I know that it’s not okay. Nothing is okay.


The next morning, I wake before Ryan, dress quietly, and leave without disturbing Ryan’s parents, even Eddie, who’s too groggy to notice when I walk out the door.


I park at the hospital and make my way to the fifth floor. My heart beats fast as I grasp the door handle, but when I enter the room I practically bump into a man holding a vase of flowers, white carnations, and a Mylar balloon that says GET WELL SOON.


“Oh,” I say, startled. “I’m so sorry. I must have the wrong room. I’m looking for 502.”


“This is 502,” he says. “My wife was moved here after surgery.”


“Your wife?” I peer around his shoulder and see a middle-aged woman with short dark hair lying in the bed that once was Cade’s. She’s holding the remote and staring at the TV with a frustrated expression.


“Bill, how does this thing work? Can you get one of the nurses?”


“Sorry,” I say, slipping out the door and heading directly to the nurses’ station. Maybe they moved him. Maybe he’s on another floor.


“Excuse me,” I say. “I’m looking for Cade McAllister. He was in room 502 yesterday, but he’s gone now.”


“Oh,” the young nurse says. “Yes.” She turns to her colleague, an older nurse I don’t remember from yesterday.


“About that,” the older nurse says. “Your friend left.”


I shake my head. “What do you mean, he left?”


She shrugs. “He slipped out at some point in the night,” she says. “The nurse from the night shift said she went in to give him his pain medication at three A.M., but he was gone.”


“How could you let him leave?” I exclaim. “He has a brain injury. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He doesn’t know who he is.”


“Ma’am,” the older nurse says, “we are a hospital, not a jail. We can’t force people to stay. If they want to leave, they can leave.”


I sigh. “Do you have any idea where he might have gone? Any at all?”


She shrugs. “Maybe back to the streets,” she says, turning back to her paperwork. “They always end up back there.”


She begins to say something else, but I don’t listen. Instead I race to the elevator.


I spend all day searching for Cade. I wander through Westlake Center endlessly, scouring every alley, every sidewalk. I take on Pioneer Square next, stopping at shelters, soup kitchens, with no luck. By three I’m exhausted and disillusioned, so I decide to head back to my office, where I dejectedly slump in my chair. When Jan passes, she pokes her head in. “She shows her face.”


“I’m sorry I’ve been so checked out,” I say. I feel a rush of emotion and bury my face in my hands.


“And I’m sorry that you’re going through this.” She sits down. “Have you given any more thought to writing about it?”


I shake my head. “It’s so personal, Jan.”


“It is,” she says, “which is what makes it such a compelling story.”


“Oh, Jan. I don’t know what to do.” After keeping my guard up around Ryan, it feels good to be real.


“Thanksgiving is coming,” she says. “Let’s finish this series on Pioneer Square from Cade’s perspective. Let’s show the neighborhood through his eyes.”


“I don’t know,” I say.


“Yes, you do,” she counters.


I tell her about Cade’s hospital stay, how he’s disappeared.


“You’ll find him,” she says. “You didn’t find him after more than a decade only to lose him again. Fate’s not that much of a bitch.”


I crack a smile.


“It will all work out the way it’s supposed to in the end,” she says, giving me a long look. “Now find him, and write something you both can be proud of.”


Her words are as comforting as they are unsettling.


“Sorry I’m late,” I say, giving Ryan a quick kiss as I squeeze into a chair at Earl’s. Ryan’s parents, Bennett and Melinda, look up at me, and my stomach instantly feels unsettled, the way it does before I have to speak in staff meetings. It’s ten after seven, and while I left the office with plenty of time to spare, I sat in traffic on Mercer for longer than I expected. I look around the restaurant filled with well-dressed patrons. Weeks earlier, when I learned of Ryan’s parents’ imminent visit, I’d planned on wearing the new blue dress I recently bought at Nordstrom and maybe combing my hair and putting on mascara. But todayCadehas gotten the better of me, and here I am in jeans and a wrinkled white button-down. I sigh, doing my best to smooth my rain-drenched hair.


“Hello, dear,” Melinda says, blowing me an air kiss. She’s dressed impeccably in a beige cashmere sweater set and black pencil skirt. Her perfectly coiffed blond hair makes me acutely aware of the state of mine.


Bennett smiles. “It’s good to see you, Kailey.”


“Sorry that I’m a bit disheveled,” I say. “I came straight from work.”


“Busy day?”


“Yes,” I say.


Ryan smiles proudly. “Kailey’s taking the lead on some key reporting for the Herald. She has important ideas on how to help Seattle’s homeless in the midst of downtown development projects.”


“My research is taking me to parts of the city I’ve never seen,” I say. I want to explain, but I am unnerved.


“Well, isn’t that wonderful,” Melinda says. She obviously doesn’t want to hear anything but pleasantries.


“How long will you be in town?” I ask, thinking of Cade, of everything.


“Just two nights, and then we’re off to Atlanta,” Bennett says. “Melinda’s hosting a charity ball there with an old friend this weekend.”


“To benefit cerebral palsy research,” Melinda says.


It occurs to me what an accomplished fund-raiser like Melinda could do for the city’s homeless. Perhaps she and I have more in common than I’m willing to admit.


“That’s wonderful, Mom,” Ryan says.


Melinda smiles at her son. “It’s my calling.”


“What’s the latest on that Pioneer Squares joint venture? Did the financing come through?” Bennett asks Ryan. And suddenly father and son are immersed in a private conversation about how each of their various business interests is faring in the recession.


Melinda turns to me. “You look tired, dear. You’re working too much.”


I force a smile. “I’m trying to help people, too, through my words. Though at times it seems that no one is listening.”


“Well,” she says, narrowing her gaze. “Maybe you should consider volunteering your time after the wedding. Ryan makes enough money for the both of you, you know. You could touch lives more directly.”


The waiter returns with a fresh wineglass and fills it from the bottle of expensive-looking French wine already open at the table.


“I really do like my job,” I say after taking a sip.


“But, dear,” she continues. “What about your home? What about a family? Surely you won’t want an office job after a baby comes along.”


My cheeks burn. “I can’t really imagine not working. It’s part of who I am.”


Melinda squares her shoulders and folds her hands daintily in her lap. “I’m confident you’ll find that there is great joy and fulfillment in being a wife and mother.”


“Well,” I say, smiling as sweetly as I can. I glance at Ryan to bail me out, but he is still deep in conversation with his father. “We’ll see.”


Bennett must have ordered more wine, because the waiter presents a new bottle. He has the look of a person who is new on the job as he fiddles with the corkscrew and struggles to free it from the neck of the bottle. He smiles nervously. “Well, darn,” he says. “The cork appears to be broken.”


I take a look, and it’s not only broken, it’s borderline decimated. My blood pressure rises in sympathy for his predicament. Ryan’s parents are nice enough but prone to exaggerated disappointment when something doesn’t go according to plan.


“That was a very expensive bottle,” Bennett says, folding his arms. “I’d rather not drink bits of cork with it.”


“Wait,” I say, coming to the waiter’s rescue. “I know how to fix this. Do you have a toothpick?”


Everyone gapes at me except the waiter, who may be my new best friend. He springs into action.


“Here,” he says. I stand and carefully wedge the toothpick into the cork, then reach for the corkscrew. I insert it into the offending cork, then gently pull the corkscrew up. The combination works like magic, and the cork releases with a tiny pop.


“There,” I say. The waiter exhales deeply. Ryan’s smile is the biggest of all.


“Who taught you how to do that?” he asks, looking up at me proudly.


I swallow hard. “An old friend,” I say.


Before I return to my seat, I refill Bennett’s wineglass.


“Not a speck of cork,” he says, pleased. “Marry this one, son.” He winks at Ryan.


“I intend to, Dad,” he says, grinning.


“Ryan, darling, where are you two going on your honeymoon?”


He wipes his mouth with his napkin, then tucks it back in his lap. “We’ve been so busy with work and settling into the new house that we haven’t had a moment to talk about it.” He smiles at me. “Kailey, is there somewhere in particular you’d like to go?”


“You know where we could go?” I say.




“Big Sur,” I say.


Melinda looks pained. “Big Sur?”


“Yes,” I say. “It’s beautiful there.”


Ryan looks surprised. “Funny, I don’t think I ever knew that you went there. When was it?”


“A lifetime ago,” I say with a summoned smile.


Melinda looks at Bennett, then shakes her head. “In our day, it was nothing but a hippie mecca.”


“The beach is truly one of a kind,” I say.

About the Author

Диана Семёнычева

Диана Семёнычева