I finally look up again and Eli’s watching me closely. Addison’s looking between the two of us and the air is tense among all three of us. She doesn’t ask questions though and tonight, I can feel anger growing inside of me from her not wanting to know any more than whether or not this is normal.
“I want to go for a walk to the corner store, so I can buy a few things… please,” I say the last word through clenched teeth.
“Give me an hour,” Eli responds and then adds, “please.” He mocks me, but in a way I know is meant to ease the tension. It doesn’t though.
Giving him a tight smile, I nod once and watch him leave, although I still can’t find an even breath. Everything is tense, and nothing is right. I feel like I’m breaking down. I’m losing it every second I sit here, guarded and watching the list of deaths grow.
“Are you okay?” Addie asks me as the sound of Eli’s footsteps diminishes.
“No,” I answer her honestly.
I wanted to help my family, and Nikolai ignored me.
I told Carter I loved him, I chose to stay with him, and he left me.
I’m a fool. I’m a fucking fool.
I’m helpless, hopeless and I feel like I’m at my limit.
The sofa groans as Addie slips off of it and makes her way toward me. She’s quiet as she sits cross-legged next to me and leans in to give me a hug.
“I wish I knew what to say or do,” she consoles me in a quiet voice and I instantly regret the thoughts I had moments ago. I’m so eager to lash out, I could see her being the misguided target of my frustrations, but I would never forgive myself.
Grabbing on to her forearm and giving her a semblance of a hug back, I tell her, “I wish I knew too.”
Time passes slowly until she grabs the remote and turns off the TV. The click of the picture going black is louder than I’ve ever heard it before. I want it to stay on, so I’ll know what happened, but I’m grateful she turned it off because I can’t take any more.
“Do you want to talk?” she asks me, and I shake my head. I’m ashamed of how much of myself I give to Carter, only to have him hold back in return. I don’t think I could tell her without her hating him even more. And after the night she had with Daniel, I couldn’t do that to her.
“You could distract me and tell me what happened last night again,” I offer, feeling a swell of jealousy and pain grow in my chest. Last night, I felt used. For the first time, I felt used and foolish for loving him.
“It was just a good night,” Addie says, moving her hands to her lap. I know she doesn’t want to rub it in, so I just nod and let it go. I stare at the doorway as if Eli will magically appear and let me go outside. The thought makes me roll my eyes. I’m stupid to think I had any sense of control.
Before I can spiral down the path to self-pity that kept me up all last night, Addison asks me, “Do you want to read my tarot cards?”
I watch her chew on the inside of her cheek, waiting for an answer. I’m so grateful for her that I would do anything she asked right now. For the distraction, for the genuine friendship, and so I nod.
“Let’s do it,” I answer her.
With a deep breath, I scoot backward and turn to her, sitting opposite her and cross-legged too as she reaches behind her on the coffee table for the deck of cards Carter got me however long ago.
“Okay, what do I do?” Addison asks, placing the deck of cards in front of her and staring at them like they’ll magically shuffle themselves.
“Knock on them first,” I tell her in a deadpan tone, knowing full well she’s going to look up at me like I’m crazy.
“I’m serious,” I say again and nod to the cards, folding my own hands in my lap. “You have to knock on them to get rid of any previous readings and put your own energy into the cards.”
She does what I tell her, lifting the deck and knocking weakly on the back card although she’s grinning the entire time. Already I feel a thread better. Only a thread, but it’s one more than I had before.
“Now shuffle the deck and think about something you’d like insight to. Or don’t.” I shrug and stretch from where I’m sitting, feeling the ache from leaning over the canvases for the past few hours. Just glancing at them reminds me about everything and I’m quick to turn back to Addison.