To find links to all parts of this story, please visit the Small Cuts Page. Here is Elaine:
I moved on autopilot. My life for the last two weeks had seemed like a film in which I was merely a supporting actor. I left decisions up to James’ family, my family. I was still out of work, told to take all the time that I needed. I was numb, disconnected, wanting to wake up from this nightmare. Mom and Dad came to stay with me right after the accident up to the day after the funeral. All the commotion and chaos keeps you from fully realizing the loss. Once everyone had gone, all that remained was wilting flowers, leftover casseroles and the echoes of cliched condolences. And Oliver.
It was the first night I was alone that the story of James’ connection to Genevieve made the six o’clock broadcast. Must have been a slow news day in Philadelphia. How on earth had that bit of information got out? It had been bad enough dealing with James’ death and Gen’s grave condition without having reporters asking us to bear our guilt in front of the cameras. It was hideous. Wait, did I say guilt? I meant grief. Oh, god….
It was true, it was true. This was all because of us—Oliver and me. Somehow James and Gen must have figured it out. I needed to talk to Oliver. He was the only one I could really talk to now. He had maintained a discreet and appropriate manner when we were in public—just close enough to be the grieving friend. Add Genevieve’s condition to the situation, and he was very much the sympathetic character. Whenever we found ourselves alone, however, his true feelings were apparent. He loved me, he still wanted to be with me, even though things had gone so terribly wrong. In my emotional state, I found myself leaning on him. I picked up my phone and called.
At first Oliver tried to find other explanations, but that was just wishful thinking. He eventually admitted that James had probably seen him drive by our house and had likely followed him into the city. Then, he told me after Genevieve’s things were retrieved from the wreck of her car, he discovered that she had the address of the Park Hotel entered into the GPS on her phone. That was the final proof if you asked me. I had dropped the phone and run to the bathroom to throw up. I heaved and heaved until there was nothing left. Now my body felt as empty as my heart. I slumped against the toilet and wept. That’s where Oliver found me.
“Baby, here, let me help you,” he said, lifting me into his arms. I was too weak to resist. He carried me from the bathroom to my bedroom and laid me on top of the covers. Then, sitting on the edge, brushed my hair from my face.
“He’s dead because of me. This my fault,” I said. I grabbed Oliver’s wrist as he reached again to touch my cheek. “We killed him, Oliver. And we nearly killed Gen, too.”