I grab another book off the desk and place it in the box on the ground. It's nearly full. The room is neat--or as neat as an attic room ever gets. My writing quotes and cards are packed away in my writing folder. My clothes have all been stuffed in my dresser. I shuffle through the desk drawers and find a pen I hadn't seen for months. I like this pen. It's a smooth writer.
Down stairs I hear the back door open and close. Footsteps in the kitchen. Voices.
"Is Alex home?"
It is Jessie's voice. It isn't scared or manic or hurt--but it still makes my pulse beat a little fast. For a moment I wonder if I can avoid her. Maybe, if I don't make a sound she'll just leave. But she can't leave. She's home.
"Alex?" her voice comes again.
"Hey," I say. I'll be right down.
I descend the latter to the kitchen. There is Jessie. Washed, and looking a sight better than I'd seen her for some time. Her mother, Louise, is with her, beaming.
"I'm sorry," I say.
Jessie doesn't accuse me. She doesn't rail on or ask me how I could have done such a thing. How I could have committed her, testified against her, to keep her in the hospital.
She gives a small shrug and to my surprise reaches in for a hug. I'm thankful for it. I do not feel the anger her mother spoke about the day before. I do not feel the lost parts of her life. I feel Jessie. And For a moment I wonder if she's really back.