But as he goes on, making fun of some of my plays, because that’s what he does, I can’t help but drift back to what Kayla had said yesterday about Christmas. How hard it’s going to be on her. It won’t be any easier for Brigs. And with all the alcohol around the holidays, the stress, plus having to deal with George, who, if I’m being honest here, can be a racist, judgemental prick at times, it looks like it’s shaping up to be one hell of a Christmas.
Just the thought of it all brings back the demons, slithering up through my veins like old friends. I order another coffee to combat it (caffeine has become my best friend in this battle), say goodbye to Brigs, and then head back to the flat and Kayla.
“How was Brigs?” she asks me as I come in the door and kick off my boots. Lionel jumps up at me, tongue lolling out of his wide mouth, before running back to the couch to cuddle with Jo.
I take off my beanie and jacket, hanging them up. “He’s great, actually.”
I tell her the news about his job in London.
“Oh my god,” she says, clapping her hands together and making a little squeeing sound that I find so bloody adorable. “That’s so exciting! He must be so happy! What’s he like when he’s happy?”
I chuckle and head into the kitchen to put on the kettle. “Well, he’s a bit on the fence about it. I don’t know why, really. He says he’s not a fan of London, which is odd because he used to love going there.”
“Maybe he’s just afraid of the change,” she says, leaning against the doorway, watching me. I glance at her while I fill the kettle. Her brows are knit together, thinking. “You know, in some ways it was really hard for me to come here. Not just in the whole moving countries thing, but…leaving San Francisco was like leaving her.” She swallows hard and I can practically see the grief washing over her. “I felt like the city was my last tie to her. But…it was time. I had to move on. I couldn’t stay there.” She looks up at me, tears in her eyes. “I couldn’t stand another minute without you.”
Jesus. There she goes, my beautiful world, breaking my heart into pieces.
I put the kettle down and stride over to her, scooping her up into my arms. She’s so fragile lately, like the finest crystal.
“Hey,” I whisper into her hair, holding her tight. “I’ve got you.”
She whimpers into me, breathing hard. “I just wish it would end. I feel so torn up inside. All the time. Every minute. I love you so much, Lachlan, I really do. And it makes me so fucking happy. But then I remember what I’ve lost, how much I miss my mother, and I just don’t know how to feel anymore. My heart has schizophrenia.”
“I think that’s normal,” I tell her gently. “And I wish it could just get easier right away, but these things take time. You’re going to feel great and then you’re going to backslide. But no matter what, I don’t want you to feel guilty for your happiness. That’s all your mother ever wanted for you. You need to own that.”
She sighs. “I know. I know.”
“Tell you what,” I say, pulling back and tipping her chin up with my fingers. Even with tears streaming down her face, she’s unbearably beautiful. “Tonight I’m going to take you to the Christmas fair on Princes Street. We’re going to eat a load of rubbish and go on all the rides until we’re sick. Sound good?”
Finally I see that smile. “That sounds both amazing and terrible. I’m down.”
“Good,” I say, brushing my thumbs over her cheeks and clearing away the tears. I kiss her softly on her lips until she relaxes into me.