Well, I’m still alive.
I’ve been here a week now and for some reason I’ve kept going. I still don’t know what that reason is however.
Maybe it’s the weather. It’s the first week of March and the air is so fresh and crisp. I opened all the windows the day I got here, after I had picked myself up off the floor that is. The place needed to air out, while it was nice outside it was stifling inside and that was something I didn’t need. My memories did that to me well enough already. I haven’t closed the windows since. There is always a breeze with house being so close to the coast and the birds are singing away all day long. At night it’s the frogs and bugs chirping, unbelievably they have lulled me to sleep every night.
I’m still taking sleeping pills so that I sleep deep enough to prevent most of the nightmares. It’s like sleeping the sleep of the dead sometimes. At night you close your eyes and then the next minute you open them to daylight. Other nights I wake up covered in sweat, gasping for air.
It’s the same nightmare I’ve had countless times over the last two years. I scream and beg for Trey and Lucas to stay home knowing if they leave they’ll die. When that doesn’t work I beg Trey to take me with them. Of course he doesn’t listen and takes Lucas from my arms saying, “Quit your fretting woman, we’ll make it just fine without you.” The smile on his face is downright cruel and it causes dread to roll in the pit of my stomach. I jump in my car, racing to catch up to them. I’m always too late though. I see the truck spin and flip, Trey flying through the air and landing with a sickening crack against the pavement. I can hear my son’s cries through the terrible crashing and grinding of metal and glass against asphalt, and then suddenly they stop. At that point all I hear are my own screams . The days after nights like that are always bad ones. I’ve only had three since I got here, which is better than I usually do. Do I dare to think I may get better here? Yeah, probably not.
Here reminds me of home though, but thankfully not too much. The landscape is similar, flat with lots of trees and water. At home it was ponds, here it’s marshes. The drive up to the house is the same though. Long and lined with ancient live oaks, even I can still find the beauty in that. The house itself is very southern, but definitely a house built for the coast. It’s built high off the ground, spread wide, and big porches wrap all the way around it. You can leave the windows open even when it rains thanks to those porches.
I can see touches of Miss Connie all over the place. From the azaleas planted outside, to the homemade quilts on the beds. Even though they only visited a few times a year, you can still smell them here. It’s like the walls and floors soaked them in. Strangely enough it gives me comfort to feel them here, not haunted like I was at home. I don’t grieve for them as I use to. Do I still miss them? Absolutely, but I know they are at peace and together as they should be. Knowing they lived full lives makes letting them go easier. My boys didn’t get that chance.
There is no trace of them, which is really odd. There isn’t even a picture of Trey when he was little. In fact there aren’t any photographs in the whole house, except for one picture I brought with me. It’s of the three of us just before I lost them. Our faces are so happy smiling at me from out of the frame. It seems like a life time ago, yet just yesterday too. I’m glad I didn’t bring anything more of them with me though, I don’t feel so heavy and smothered without the memories staring at me wherever I look.
Tara, Lala, and Sid Matt have all called to check on me, I think I managed to pull the wool over their eyes. I don’t know if they might be the reason I’m still sticking around or not. I do know I don’t want to hurt them, especially T and Lala, but I believe they would understand if I let go. They would be sad, but they wouldn’t blame me I don’t think. I certainly wouldn’t blame them if they were me.
I’m sitting on the back porch looking out over the marsh as I try to understand why I’m still here. Why I haven’t took the whole bottle of sleeping pills like I’d planned yet. It’s the new question I’ve added to the long list of others. Just like the rest, I don’t have an answer for it either. So I sit here and let the gentle movement of the swaying, green grasses and rippling water lull me into a false sense of calm. Before long my mind goes quiet and I slip into a daze of blue and green as my eyes lose focus and the numbness creeps in. I’m sinking into nothingness again and I find it a welcome reprieve.
Sometime later I hear the gravel crunching on the drive and the rumble of a truck. I register a bit of surprise that I even heard it. Usually when I have a “going away” spell, as I call them, it takes much more than a bit of noise to reach me in the void.
Claudine says these shifts in my mind are called depersonalization. A defense mechanism of sorts to give my mind a break. They are very hard to explain, but it’s as if I leave my body, or go so deep inside my mind that the two lose connection. Like now, I hear someone knocking on the door and calling my name, but I can’t move or speak, nor do I care if I do or not. Part of me knows I should “wake up” and answer, but it’s still not strong enough to pull me back. I’m physically here and I even have thoughts, but I’m somewhere else at the same time. It’s like a dark daydream on steroids Claudine says. One that can take you away and decide to keep you for awhile, even if you don’t want to stay. I’m never afraid while they’re happening, but once I come back to myself it’s unsettling. They can come on with little to no warning and they make me lose time. Sometimes a lot of it.
“Miss Dawson? Ma’am? Sookie, ma’am is you alright?”
An older man is speaking and I can see a dark figure in front of me.
“Miss Sookie, please wake up. You is making me nervous,” I hear from the figure again. When he shakes me a little, I’m finally able to snap out of it.
I startle a bit, jumping back in my chair. He does the same on his feet. He’s an older black man with a shock of white hair and it looks like I just scared him to death.
“Oh I so sorry! I didn means to scares you,” he rushes out holding his hand against his heart.
“No, no. It’s me who’s sorry, it was my fault, Mr?” I prompt him. I haven’t a clue who he is or why he’s here.
“Oh me, I sorry miss, I’s Mr. Hayward. I takes care of dis place fo de Dawson’s, fo you now too. I’s thought Mr. Sid woulda tolds you bouts me already. Me and my wife was de ones that brought de groceries fo you,” he explains in a sweet grandfatherly way.
“Um, yes. Now that you say it, I do remember Mr. Sid Matt saying something about you.” I rub my face and take a deep breath trying to shake the last of the fog from my brain. His face holds nothing but concern when I look back up at him.
“I’m really sorry, Mr. Hayward. I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m not myself much these days. Let me get up and get you a drink,” I offer, my manners trying to cover up my embarrassment.
“No, no, no now Miss Sookie. Don’t you worry none bout me, my wife sends me a bunch a water wiff me whens I’m out workin. And don’t worry none bout before neither. Mr. Sid tolds me bout yo loss. We was so sorry da here bout Mr. Trey an ya’lls little one, Ma’am. So very sorry,” he says kindly.
Thank you is about all I can manage so it’s all I say, “Thank you.”
I think he must realize that I’m not comfortable talking about it, because he moves on quickly.
“I came ta mow da yards and see if n you needed anythin fo da house. My wife, Christine would be glad ta go get ya some groceries if ya don’t feel like gettin out,” he tells me.
For some strange reason I decide right then that I’ll go get me some groceries myself today. Nobody knows me here and I won’t have to deal with any pity from anyone. I need to at least try.
“I appreciate that, Mr. Hayward and please tell her thank you for me, but I think I’ll get out and find my way around town today. I can pick up some then. And thank you for doing such a good job looking out for this place, you have kept it in great shape. How much do I owe you for the yard work and the groceries you brought me before?” I ask him.
“Oh don’t worry bout that, Mr. Sid pays me ever other week fo keeping da place up,” he answers with a big, happy smile, his dark eyes twinkling.
“Well good, can’t have you not gettin paid for all your hard work,” I tell him, managing a small smile of my own.
“Alrights den, I best be gettins ta work, ma’am. I jus wanna ta intraduce myself and let ya know I was here. It sure was nice meetin ya and you take care of yoself now hear,” he said with what I now figured was his often used smile and a wave as he walked back around the porch and to the front.
“Thank you and you do the same,” I waved and smiled in return.
Well I said I was gonna get out and find my way around town so I guess that’s what I better do. I do need food. Even if I’m still on the skinny side, starving myself is not the way I want to go. The pills will be much faster. If I’m going though, I need a shower, I haven’t had one in two days. I don’t want people staring at me because I smell and look like shit. I’d rather they not notice me at all.
Savannah is much bigger than I thought and it’s taking a lot of breathing and counting to keep my anxiety down too. I’ve almost turned around and went back five times now. I’ve yet to stop and get groceries either, I’m just riding the streets trying to keep calm.
Coffee, I need coffee. Instead of making me jittery, it always soothes my nerves a bit. Maybe if I get some I can actually make it inside somewhere. And I want Starbucks too. I had it in Jackson for the first time and their caramel frappucino was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Now I just need to find one. It might be tough since I’ve managed to get myself downtown.
By some miracle I find one about fifteen minutes later. The drive thru has a long line, but do I risk going inside? If I go inside they’ll be more people to see me if I have an attack or spell. I don’t have to worry about that as much in the drive thru. Ugh! Get your shit together Sookie and act like a normal person for a change! I gather my courage and pull into the parking lot instead of the drive thru, finding a space easily. I’m going inside even if it kills me, maybe it will, if I’m lucky. Haha, aren’t I funny? I take a few deep breaths and get out of the car.
Once inside I realize it’s not very crowded at all. There are only five other customers and two employees that I can see. I get in line and just try to stay relaxed. It’s quiet in here and smells heavenly, so that helps. I hear the bell over the door ring when another customer comes in, but I keep my eyes ahead and just wait my turn. The two in front of me seem to be ordering for their whole office from the sound of it. After a couple more minutes pass and they are still giving more orders, I hear the guy behind me groan.
“And I thought it was a good idea to come inside,” he sighs.
I decide to be brave and turn around to give him a smile of agreement and only see a muscular chest covered by a snug white dress shirt. My eyes trail up to his face and meet the most beautiful set of blue eyes I have ever seen. They’re twinkling as they smile down at me too.
“Guess we should have went through the drive thru huh?” he says with a lopsided grin.
Good Lord Almighty, I had no idea a real man could be so gorgeous. I’m not gonna make an idiot out of myself by having an attack, but because I’ve been struck dumb by the adonis standing in front of me. It should be illegal for somebody to be so pretty. Especially a man.
He has short, dark blonde hair that has lots of natural highlight and a perfect golden tan. He spends a lot of time in the sun, you can just tell. His eyebrows and cheekbones frame those beautiful blues perfectly and his lips look so soft compared to the scruff that’s surrounding them. Oh God, he has a dimple in his chin too.
“You okay down there?” he asks again, this time with a wink.
I grin like the idiot I am and try to act normal. Calm, Sookie. Get a grip. You are a widow and widows don’t ogle men. Just answer him for pete’s sake!
I let out an embarrassing giggle and finally find my voice. “Sorry, guess I’ve been waiting so long my brain short circuited. You are correct, sir. We should have went through the drive thru.”
“Eric,” he says, giving me the panty melting grin once more.
“Hum?” is all I can manage.
Panty melting?? Really, Sookie? What the hell is wrong with you? I need to call Claudine as soon as I’m outta here, we need to work on my meds.
“My name’s Eric. Eric Northman,” he says with his hand held out for me to shake.
When I slip mine into it, it just about swallows mine whole. His hands are huge! Trey’s weren’t near this big. That thought immediately sobers me.
“Sookie. My name’s Sookie Dawson. Nice to meet you,” I tell him politely with a small smile.
There, getting my wits back a bit, maybe.
“Sookie, that’s very unique. I like it,” he says.
The way my name sounds coming out of his mouth is sinful. I feel a tremor run through me and I quickly pull my hand from his and squeak out a “Thank you.” This needs to stop. These feelings are so foreign to me now. I’m not sure that I like them. I go to turn back around, but he isn’t finished it seems.
“I’m in here every day and I haven’t seen you in here before. Are you just visiting?” he asks.
My southern manners won’t let me not respond so I just try to keep my voice friendly, but not too friendly.
“Yeah, I’m only here for a short stay. Just taking a few weeks off. I guess you live here?” Shit, I didn’t mean to keep the conversation going.
“I do. I’ve been here all my life. I work just a few block to the west of here at SCAD,” he tells me, still smiling.
Damn, but it’s hard not to smile back at him. He gets more gorgeous with every second that passes. He is so tall and lean. I’d guess close to 6’4″ and I bet he wears a 32 waist in his jeans, 34 at the most. The length would have to be at least a 38, more like 40.
My heart clinches as I think about why I would know that. I’m a wife. No, I was a wife. It was part of what I did, buying Trey’s clothes. He wore a 38\32. I take a deep breath to try and clear my head.
“I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with SCAD. What is it you do?” I ask.
“SCAD is the Savannah College of Art and Design. I teach furniture design there,” he explains.
“Oh wow, that sounds very interesting. I guess I never thought about the fact someone has to design our furniture. All of my stuff is antiques. I guess you do more modern pieces?” I ask.
There I go again asking questions, but he’s so nice to look at I may as well enjoy the view while I can. And his voice could melt butter it’s so deep and smooth. Nice, Sookie, real nice. You sound like a desperate teenager. What would Trey think?
Trey’s dead. Remember?
Like I would ever forget. Now quit acting like a crazy person, he tryin to talk to you.
“Mostly yes, but I love antiques too. The skill that was required to make them is far and beyond what most craftsman have today. I have quite a mix of old and modern in my own place. I insist my students learn the old techniques of furniture building as well as the new more efficient methods,” he says with some passion.
“Sounds like you really love what you do, congrats on that. Many people aren’t that lucky,” I tell him, letting my real smile come through a bit.
“Thanks, I consider myself really lucky in that aspect,” he answers with a big smile instead of grinning this time.
Damn, he’s gorgeous.
Thankfully it’s finally my turn to order. I can get my frappucino and get away from this man that is causing all these mixed up feelings in me. He has me a whole lot more unsettled than I’m comfortable with.
Just when I’m finishing up my order I hear a commotion behind me, but I ignore it while I get out my money to pay. When I look up at the cashier to give him the money his eyes are huge, he looks really scared. What the hell? Did I slip into one of my spells or something?
I realize it must not have been me when Eric backs up, pressing his back into mine, pinning me to the counter. I almost start to yell at him to get off me when he grabs one of my arms and whispers, “Be quiet and don’t move.”
Of course I don’t listen and take a peak around his shoulder. There are two men wearing all black, with masks over their faces, standing in front of the only way in or out of this place. They both have a gun in each of their hands and they are pointed right at us. Looks like I may die today whether I want to or not. Thing is, now that it’s staring me in the face, I’m pretty sure I don’t want too.