“What time was it even in Wales? (2:13am pst – 9:13am wales)are there different time zones in Wales is it even big enough to have time zones. He has been planning this trip he told me forever, just one of those things “see the old country” I guess, I don’t know… this is just not the kind of thing I could have imagined. I just wanted to show Pops he could rely on me. And now…?” The pressure was building again, have you ever tried to hold back tears with a broken nose? Let me tell you this, it’s just not fair, the more it hurts the more you want to cry the more you want to cry the more it hurts, but there is a fear of even bigger pain then if you do start to cry…. and of course that feeds into the whole cycle too.
Seeing the tears Mr Smith started wiggling in his seat. I could empathize I didn’t do well with crying I couldn’t fix either. Still at the time… just coming out of the fog again, it was hard to spare time for sympathy. I was the one who Pops trusted, I was the one so sure nothing would go wrong because it never had, nothing had ever gone wrong, in all our years of running a repair shop we’d never had a fire, a chemical burn, maybe a trip or two to the ER but we never had anything like this happen. Oh sure you hear about disasters, you see broken people sifting through the ruins of broken homes and think how terrible big disasters are. I broke as I pictured him standing there in what must be ash by now. I don’t know… did the second floor even burn, maybe they’d gotten to it in time, maybe there was something to salvage. Some family pictures or something.
I was weeping again, a full ugly cry would have brought me to the floor with pain but I could definitely feel the waterworks seeping under pressure. That thought though, something about the family pictures. It had only ever been me and pops, why was I worried about that? The realization came to me just about as Mr Smith was headed for the door to get backup (or presumably another box of tissues as I’d demolished the one he tried to push over to me) I blinked at him, The woman who visited, the one who’d punched me. She had a family picture, of Pops Family, wife, kids… if that was still at the house maybe there would be something I could save. Maybe she dropped it and it burned in the fire too though. Ok. Breathe. Just enough of a cry to get back some composure. Breathe in, breathe out. I looked sheepishly at agent Mr Smith and nodded. “I’m better now, thank you for bearing with me, just promise you won’t ask if I’m ok and I’ll manage to keep a lid on it until later” He smiled back “Oh I get it, I can only imagine how it must feel, just take your time. Now you said Pops called you at 2 in the morning, why so early? Is that when he usually calls?” I shrugged “I don’t know about usually, he’s only just left a week ago, gods what day is this? Thursday now? He flew out last Saturday and called when he landed then again each day from the hotel lobby about 7pm their time, maybe noonish here, I’m usually at lunch about then, check up on projects, It’s weird, working together we don’t chat much, so I feel like I’ve been getting to talk to him more since he’s been in Wales. He keeps going on about this or that bit of coast line and the mountains and the pervasive damp, like it wasn’t just the same here, but for some reason he’s just almost… chipper if that’s right, to be miserable and cheerful about it all at once. He was headed out to Rhyl, I think. He was going to call at 12 but it was busy today… I don’t think I noticed he missed a call, just was wiped out, crashed late and bam 2am!” I must have looked confused because Mr Smith prompted me. “What did he have to say, at 2am?” I tried to be clever because I was quite certain that if I told Mr Smith what he said Pops would have a lot to answer for when he got back. I mean, there is no way in the 7 hells he’d have done anything to the shop but the urgency in his voice and the warning to get out of there, that wouldn’t look good any way you looked at it. ” You mean before or after I started yelling at him for waking me up at 2AM?” Mr Smith chuckled. My temper wasn’t a secret, and usually didn’t exist after I’d had proper sleep and coffee but George had a way of talking and there was this one time he drunk dialed me that I knew the moment I’d ended with “and your shiny red ass too!” I would never live down in this town. “Ok fair enough Effie, what did he say After you were done berating him?” “It’s a bit blurry there, sir” I said truthfully enough. “That was when this “woman” knocked on the door” “and the air quotes are for?” “Well, she hit me!” “Who was she?” “I have literally no idea… she had a picture of Pops though, with his family it looked like. I never knew them, but they all seemed so happy.. ” “Can you describe her? What she was wearing… what she looked like?”