فصل 48

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فصل 48

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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VIOLET

April 26

On Sunday, around ten thirty in the morning, Kate Finch shows up at our door. She looks as if she hasn’t slept in weeks. When I invite her in, she shakes her head. “Do you have any idea where Theo might be?”

“I don’t hear from him anymore.”

She starts nodding. “Okay.” She nods and nods. “Okay. Okay. It’s just that he’s been checking in every Saturday with Mom or me, either by email or voicemail when he knows he won’t get us live. I mean, every Saturday. We didn’t hear from him yesterday, and then this morning we get this weird email.”

I try not to feel jealous of the fact that he’s been checking in with them but not me. After all, they’re his family. I’m only me, the most important person in his life, for a while at least. But okay. I get it. He’s moved on. I’ve moved on too.

She hands me a piece of paper. It’s the email, sent at 9:43 a.m. I’m remembering the time we went to Indianapolis to eat at that pizza place, the one with the organ that came up out of the floor. Kate must have been eleven, I was ten, Decca was a baby. Mom was there. Dad too. When the organ started playing—so loud the tables shook—the light show started. Remember? It was like the aurora borealis. But what stays with me most is all of you. We were happy. We were good. Each and every one of us. The happy times went away for a while, but they’re coming back. Mom, forty-one’s not old. Decca, sometimes there’s beauty in the tough words—it’s all in how you read them. Kate, be careful with your own heart, and remember that you’re better than some guy. You’re one of the best there is. You all are.

“I thought you might know why he wrote this, or maybe you might have heard from him.”

“I don’t, and I haven’t. I’m sorry.” I hand her the email and promise to let her know if by some miracle he gets in touch with me, and then she goes away, and I shut the door. I lean against it because for some reason I feel the need to catch my breath.

My mom appears, the skin between her eyebrows pinched. “Are you okay?”

I almost say sure, yes, great, but I feel myself folding in two, and I just hug her and rest my head on her shoulder and let her momness surround me for a few minutes. Then I go upstairs and turn on the computer and sign onto Facebook.

There’s a new message, as of 9:47 a.m., four minutes after he sent the email to his family.

The words are written in The Waves: “If that blue could stay for ever; if that hole could remain for ever; if this moment could stay for ever.… I feel myself shining in the dark.… I am arrayed. I am prepared. This is the momentary pause; the dark moment. The fiddlers have lifted their bows.… This is my calling. This is my world. All is decided and ready.… I am rooted, but I flow.… ‘Come,’ I say, ‘come.’ ”

I write the only thing I can think of: “Stay,” I say, “stay.”

I check every five minutes, but he doesn’t reply. I call him again, but the voicemail is still full. I hang up and call Brenda. She answers on the first ring. “Hey, I was getting ready to call you. I got this weird email from Finch this morning.”

Brenda’s was sent at 9:41 and said simply, Some guy will definitely love you for who you are. Don’t settle.

The one to Charlie was sent at 9:45 and read, Peace, you todger.

Something is wrong.

I tell myself it’s only the heartbreak at being left, the fact that he disappeared without saying good-bye.

I pick up the phone to call Kate and realize I don’t have her number, so I tell my mom I’ll be back, and I drive to Finch’s house.

Kate, Decca, and Mrs. Finch are there. When she sees me, Mrs. Finch starts to cry, and then before I can stop her, she’s hugging me too hard and saying, “Violet, we’re so glad you’re here. Maybe you can figure this out. I told Kate maybe Violet will know where he is.”

Through Mrs. Finch’s hair, I look at Kate: Please help me.

She says, “Mom,” and touches her once, on the shoulder. Mrs. Finch moves away from me, dabbing at her eyes and apologizing for being so emotional.

I ask Kate if I can speak with her alone. She leads me through sliding glass doors, outside to the patio, where she lights a cigarette. I wonder if this is the same patio where Finch found the cardinal.

She frowns at me. “What’s going on?”

“He just wrote me. Today. Minutes after the email he sent you. He also sent emails to Brenda Shank-Kravitz and Charlie Donahue.” I don’t want to share his message with her, but I know I have to. I pull out my phone, and we stand in the shade of a tree as I show her the lines he wrote.

“I didn’t even know he was on Facebook,” she says, and then goes quiet as she reads. When she’s finished, she looks at me, lost. “Okay, what does all that mean?”

“It’s a book we discovered. By Virginia Woolf. We’ve been quoting the lines to each other off and on.”

“Do you have a copy of the book? Maybe there’s a clue in the part that comes before or after this.”

“I brought it with me.” I pull it out of my bag. I’ve already marked the words, and now I show her where he got them. He’s taken them out of sequence, picking and choosing certain lines over a series of pages and putting them together in his own way. Just like his Post-it songs.

Kate has forgotten about her cigarette, and the ash dangles, as long as a fingernail. “I can’t figure out what the hell these people are doing”—she gestures at the book—“much less see how it might relate to where he is.” She suddenly remembers her cigarette and takes a long drag. As she exhales, she says, “He’s supposed to go to NYU, you know.”

“Who?”

“Theo.” She drops the cigarette onto the patio and crushes it with her shoe. “He got early acceptance.”

NYU. Of course. What are the odds we were both supposed to be there, but now neither one of us is going?

“I didn’t—he never told me about college.”

“He didn’t tell me or Mom either. The only reason we found out is that someone from NYU tried to contact him during the fall and I got to the message first.” She forces a smile. “For all I know, he’s in New York right now.”

“Do you know if your mom ever got the messages? The ones from my mom and the psychiatrist?”

“Decca mentioned the doctor, but Mom almost never checks the home phone. I would have picked up the messages if there were any.”

“But there weren’t.”

“No.”

Because he erased them.

We go back inside, and Mrs. Finch is lying on the couch, eyes closed, while Decca sits nearby arranging pieces of paper across the floor. I can’t help but watch her, because it’s so much like Finch and his Post-its. Kate notices and says, “Don’t ask me what she’s doing. Another one of her art projects.”

“Do you mind if I take a look at his room while I’m here?”

“Go for it. We’ve left everything the way it was—you know, for when he comes back.”

If he comes back.

Upstairs, I shut the door to his bedroom and stand there a moment. The room still smells like him—a mix of soap and cigarettes and the heady, woodsy quality that is distinctly Theodore Finch. I open the windows to let some air in because it’s too dead and stale, and then I close them again, afraid the scent of soap and cigarettes and Finch will escape. I wonder if his sisters or mom have even set foot in this room since he’s been gone. It looks so untouched, the drawers still open from when I was here last.

I search through the dresser and desk again, and then the bathroom, but there’s nothing that can tell me anything. My phone buzzes, and I jump. It’s Ryan, and I ignore it. I walk into the closet, where the black light has been replaced by a regular old bulb. I go through the shelves and the remaining clothes, the ones he didn’t take with him. I pull his black T-shirt off a hanger and breathe him in, and then I slip it into my purse. I close the door behind me, sit down, and say out loud, “Okay, Finch. Help me out here. You must have left something behind.”

I let myself feel the smallness and closeness of the closet pressing in on me, and I think about Sir Patrick Moore’s black hole trick, when he just vanished into thin air. It occurs to me that this is exactly what Finch’s closet is—a black hole. He went inside and disappeared.

Then I examine the ceiling. I study the night sky he created, but it looks like a night sky and nothing more. I look at our wall of Post-its, reading every single one until I see there’s nothing new or added. The short wall, the one opposite the door, holds an empty shoe rack, which he used to hang his guitar from. I sit up and scoot back and check the wall I was leaning against. There are Post-its here too, and for some reason I didn’t notice them the last time.

Just two lines across, each word on a separate piece of paper. The first reads: long, last, nothing, time, there, make, was, to, a, him.

The second: waters, thee, go, to, it, suits, if, the, there.

I reach for the word “nothing.” I sit cross-legged and hunched over, thinking about the words. I know I’ve heard them before, though not in this order.

I take the words from line one off the wall and start moving them around:

Nothing was to him a long time there make last.

Last a long time make there nothing was to him.

There was nothing to make him last a long time.

On to the second line now. I pluck “go” from the wall and place it first. “To” moves next, and so on until it reads: Go to the waters if it suits thee there.

By the time I’m back downstairs, it’s just Decca and Mrs. Finch. She tells me Kate has gone out to look for Theo and there’s no telling when she’ll be back. I have no choice but to talk to Finch’s mom. I ask if she’d mind coming upstairs. She climbs the steps like a much older person, and I wait for her at the top.

She hesitates on the landing. “What is it, Violet? I don’t think I can handle surprises.”

“It’s a clue to where he is.”

She follows me into his room and stands for a moment, looking around as if she’s seeing it for the first time. “When did he paint everything blue?”

Instead of answering, I point at the closet. “In here.”

We stand in his closet, and she covers her mouth at how bare it is, how much is gone. I crouch in front of the wall and show her the Post-its.

She says, “That first line. That’s what he said after the cardinal died.”

“I think he’s gone back to one of the places we wandered, one of the places with water.” The words are written in The Waves, he wrote on Facebook. At 9:47 a.m. The same time as the Jovian-Plutonian hoax. The water could be the Bloomington Empire Quarry or the Seven Pillars or the river that runs in front of the high school or about a hundred other places. Mrs. Finch stares blankly at the wall, and it’s hard to know if she’s even listening. “I can give you directions and tell you exactly where to look for him. There are a couple of places he could have gone, but I have a pretty good idea where he might be.”

Then she turns to me and lays her hand on my arm and squeezes it so hard, I can almost feel the bruise forming. “I hate to ask you, but can you go? I’m just so—worried, and—I don’t think I could—I mean, in case something were to—or if he were.” She is crying again, the hard and ugly kind, and I’m ready to promise her anything as long as she stops. “I just really need you to bring him home.”

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