Drift(111)

By: Amy Murray


I peeked at him, half expecting to see him scooting away in fear. Instead he was nodding like he understood what I was going through.

“After my mom died,” James began. “I saw her everywhere. From the corner of my eye or in a crowd of nameless faces.” He rubbed his hands together and stared out into nothing. “I think it was because I never saw her body. I buried her, but what was left wasn’t much. It all fit in this tiny box.” James’s hands mimicked the shape. “I mean, how could my mom be in there?”

My heart twisted. “Have you stopped seeing her?”

“Sometimes I think I have. But then I’ll be walking and see a head of black hair, and I have to remind myself all over again that she’s gone.”

“This is all my fault. All of it. His death, and what happened to you. I mean, you were almost killed. If I’d found the diamond, none of this would’ve happened. It doesn’t seem fair that I escaped without a scratch.”

“You almost died, Abby. I wouldn’t say you came out unscathed.”

I shrugged, but his words didn’t lift the guilt.

“You can’t hold the blame.” James shifted me toward him and looked me in the eyes. “None of this is your fault.”

“I can’t see it any other way. And believe me, I’ve tried.”

James clucked his tongue. He took my hands in his and rubbed his thumbs over the tops. “Do you blame your mother for her drift? For the things that happened because of it?”

I shook my head. “No. She couldn’t help it.”

“Right, she had no control over what was happening to her. Just like you had no control over what you could and could not see.”

“All the same, I wish I would’ve found it in time. Maybe all of this could’ve been avoided,” I said.

James took in a breath and held it for a moment before speaking. “What if finding the diamond was never the reason for your drift? Have you ever thought of that?”

“What would it have been then? What was the purpose?”

James sat quiet for several moments, and when he spoke his words were careful and crafted. “I don’t know. That’s something you’ll need to figure out on your own, but for me, it’s been about finding you.” He placed his hand on top of mine. “For McCormack, it was protecting you.”

“He died protecting you,” I reminded him.

James’s brow furrowed. “And why do you think he did that? I can guarantee it wasn’t for me as much as it was for you.”

I’d spent hours dissecting the last moments of Colin’s life, and no matter which way I looked at it, I knew James was right. He’d died to save James for me, and it twisted my heart so hard it was physically painful.

“I don’t want my drift hurting anyone else.”

“It won’t.”

“How do you know?” And here we were at the root of my biggest fear. Since finding out he was going to survive, I’ve lived with a simmering panic I’d wake up and James would be gone. Just like that. Just like Colin.

The wind picked up and blew my hair across my face. James reached forward and pushed it behind my ear. “Have you had a drift since the last?”

The way his hand was tickling the skin at my neck caused gooseflesh to rise on my arms. “No.”

He leaned forward and pressed his lips to my neck just below my ear. “What about now?”

I swallowed. “No.”

“And now?” He trailed his lips up my neck.

“Nothing.”

James pulled his scruffy cheek across mine and placed a gentle kiss against my lips before pulling back to look me in the eye. “I think you’ve seen everything you were meant to see, and whatever the reason for your drift, it’s gone now. You can’t keep blaming yourself for things that exist outside your control.”

“I want to believe that. I just can’t get rid of the feeling that it’s waiting for something. My mother’s drift never left, it never let go, not once in all the years she suffered. So, why would mine just stop? It doesn’t make sense.”

“I don’t know.” He gripped my hand in his and squeezed. “But maybe it’s time to put your drift behind you.” I was about to protest when he shook his head and spoke. “I’m not telling you to forget. What I’m saying is not to worry about drifting while you don’t have to. Remember what you saw, remember McCormack, remember us, but don’t let it keep you from living.”