done here. I mean, writing work.
That said -- here's the beginning of Chapter 12:
It's not a difficult drive from Hastings to Cleveland. You head east on I-70 into Ohio until you reach Columbus, then north on I-71 until you hit Lake Erie.
You'd think so.
Except I got lost.
Columbus can be confusing. Two interstates converge there, plus there's a ring around the city and if you miss your turn and get caught in it, you're sunk. I got caught in it. Twice. Then, as I approached Akron, I took another wrong turn and ended up heading for the East Side of Cleveland instead of the West, where I belonged.
I finally found my way to familiar turf, but it was well after midnight. I felt like I'd been driving for days, I was exhausted, frustrated, depressed, and my hands were so cramped they were welded to the steering wheel. When I pulled into my parents' driveway, I sat for a few minutes, shaking, before I could prey open my fingers and motivate myself to get out of the car.
The porch lights went on and my mother was in the doorway in her bathrobe. "Shea! Are you all right?"
"What are you doing up?" I asked, dragging my weary ass up the front steps. I hadn't called to tell my parents I was coming, mainly because I didn't want my mother waiting up for me.
"Aaron has been phoning every hour!" she said. "Every time I answer he sounds more upset! What in heaven's name happened? I couldn't get any details out of him except he thought you might come here and he wants you to call him the second you arrive."
She held the screen door open for me and Gorcey barked a greeting. "Thanks, Mom. You can go back to bed. I'm sorry for those calls. I'll take the phone off the hook so Aaron won't bother you again."
"Shea, what's the matter?" she demanded.
"Nothing," I said. "I'll unpack the car in the morning. Right now I just want to go to bed."
"Are you going to call Aaron?"
"No," I stated flatly.
"Why not?" she persisted.
"Leave the kid alone, Marie!" The old man was in his recliner, the TV glowing in front of him, the sound turned down so low I doubted he could even hear it. "When he wants to talk, he'll talk!"
She frowned. "But I want to know what's going on!"
"Go to bed already!" he snapped at her. "This can wait until morning. Right, son?"
"Right, Dad." I couldn't believe I was agreeing with my father, joining with him to shut up my mother's questions. "We'll talk in the morning."
Mom reluctantly went upstairs.
"You look beat," Dad said to me. Gorcey jumped up onto his lap and settled, his bug-eyes gazing at me. My father stroked the dog's domed head.
"I feel beat."
"You here for a visit? Or for good?"
I paused because I didn't know how to respond. "I left Aaron. All my stuff is in the car."
Saying those words wasted me. I sank down onto the couch and put my head in my hands. I wanted to cry, but I couldn't. I was too tired to cry.
"Get some sleep," he said softly. "But before you go upstairs, turn off the ringer on that goddamn phone or it'll make a racket all night."
I stood up. "Okay."
"Thanks, Dad. Good night."
"Yeah, good night." He turned back to the television.
I went out to the car to get my laptop and gym bag. Then I turned off the ringer on the phone in the kitchen -- the only phone in the house -- and trudged up to my room to try and get some sleep.
It's amazing how much you can sleep when you're depressed. Hour after hour, even when you're no longer really tired, you just doze in a hazy stupor, hiding in the darkness of the shaded room, the blanket, the pillows covering your head. Gorcey came in at one point and jumped on the bed, snuggling up against my back. His snorts and snores were comforting somehow, the feel of his small, warm body reminding me that I was still a part of this world. I was used to a body next to me. Aaron's body. But the dog would do for now. I slipped back into my torpor for a few more hours.
Finally, my mother ventured in to make certain I was still alive. It was sometime Sunday evening.
"Shea? Honey? Do you want any dinner?"
"No," I said. My head was still under the covers so I must have sounded muffled.
"I said I'm not hungry." Then I turned over.
"Shea, are you going to call Aaron? He wants to know if you're okay. He's worried sick about you," she continued.
That brought me to the surface. I stuck my head out and stared at her. "He's worried sick? He should have thought about whether I was okay or not a long time ago! He should have thought about a lot of things if he's so fucking concerned!
"Shea!" she said sharply. "Your language!"
I covered my head again. "Mom, I don't give a shit about my language. And if he calls again asking about me, tell him to fuck off. Or, if you can't say that, give the phone to Dad -- he won't have any problem making it perfectly clear. Thanks. You can go now."
I closed my eyes, but I knew she was still there. I could hear her impatient breathing.
"Aaron says to remind you that classes begin tomorrow."
That did it. I threw the blanket back and sat up. "Classes? He's worried about my classes?"
"Yes," she said. "School starts tomorrow. He told me to remind you. He said that you have a contract. An obligation to the university."
"No," I replied. "Aaron has an obligation to the university. My job was dependent on his -- period! I'm a spousal hire and if I'm no longer Aaron's spouse, then all bets are off! And you can tell him that from me!"
My mother gazed at me sadly. I remembered that look very well from my childhood. The bewildered, mournful, and vaguely tolerant expression of a mother who has no idea how she came to give birth to such a incomprehensible creature.
"I know you boys had a disagreement, Shea, but that's no reason to throw out all the years you've been together. But you need to speak to him. You need to work things out and not fly off the handle over something silly."
Boys. Fly off the handle. Something silly. That's the way she saw it. Like Aaron and I were a couple of bad little kids fighting over a toy in the sandbox.
"I can't talk about this now," I said. "Please close the door when you leave."
I buried myself in the bed again. She stood in the doorway a few minutes longer, but then she actually did leave, shutting the bedroom door firmly behind her.
That's when I really lost it. I cried and couldn't seem to stop. But at least I was alone. No one could see me losing control. And if they could hear me, they didn't do anything. That was both a relief and another reason to cry even harder. My mother and father didn't do a thing, just like when I was a kid, crying myself to sleep in the dark. They left me alone with my grief. My fear. My fucking misery.
For that I was grateful.
And I hated them for it.