The one-time lovers, long-time strangers cried together on the floor in the hallway until they were done. Time had no meaning here. They sobbed together as if they were tearing through every wall and barrier their lives had placed between them. They cried themselves clean. After the tears, they lay in silence, wrapped in each other’s arms, physically exhausted, emotionally drained, and well beyond words.
At some point, one stirred. They quietly helped each other up and lightly stepped into some semblance of an ancient routine. When Margie left long ago, Chalmers barely had the heart to change anything. She stepped into the kitchen to make some fresh coffee and felt her movements become oddly familiar. She watched her hands as she worked. If they had not looked clearly older, she would have thought herself transported back in time, a better time.
Chalmers followed her into the kitchen holding the doll to his chest as he walked as if it were stuck there. He set it gently on the table, but away from where he planned to sit. Margie placed a warm cup of coffee down in front of him, as she used to do, as if she still did it. He took a cautious sip.
The corner of Margie’s mouth turned up slightly in an effort to smile, but she looked down, cautiously stirring some milk into her cup.
“How did you get it,” he asked.
“We had a hell of a storm,” she said, slowly shaking her head. “The wind was blowing. Lights were flashing. There was a tremendous thud against my door. When I opened it to make sure everything was O.K. there it was. Originally, it was wrapped in paper and twine. Wrapped poorly, but wrapped just the same.”
Margie sipped her coffee using two hands hoping that would calm her shaking.
“I recognized it the moment I saw it, and I…” Margie’s voice trailed off.
“You were pissed.”
“Enraged,” she said, using what little energy she a left to emphasize her outrage.
“I got it to,” he said. “During this last bitch of a storm, but I didn’t have it long. The doctor’s said I blacked out from all the excitement. When I woke up in the hospital, nobody remembers anything of an old doll.”
He paused. “I didn’t do it. You know that don’t you? I would never…”
“I know,” she said with a slight frustration. “I just. I was just so mad, and hurt. The moment the rain stopped I threw that doll in the car and drove up here.”
Storm or no storm the drive from Millard, where Margie lived in a small apartment, to Cardington was at least an hour.
“Sorry you wasted the trip,” Chalmers said, smiling ever so subtly. Margie reached over and took his hand.
They sat there together drinking coffee and saying very little as old friends might do.
Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.
They both froze for a moment and slowly turned to look at the doll. Two dark eyes, one at half-mast, stared back.
They looked at each other.
Together they stood and slowly stepped to the front door.