Author’s Note: It’s amazing how many theories go bouncing around in this one.
“The sunrises out here really are beautiful. I’d forgotten what they were like. It’s usually about this time that I’m falling asleep, if I’m awake at all right now, and I don’t think I’ve paid attention to what they look like in the city, but I know they’re not this nice,” Carson said, trying to get comfortable in the Maxwell’s seat. Mackenna had the brilliant idea of pushing one out to watch the sunrise, and he didn’t know that he objected to that even if he had a hard time finding a comfortable position. He could see why she liked this place and this car so much.
This was a little paradise, this farm, a hideaway and sanctuary, something more than what she’d had before she came here, and she held onto this place and all it was with everything she had. He didn’t blame her for that. If his memories were clearer, if he knew for sure that he could trust his family, he’d want to be on their farm, even if it it meant dealing with his uncle.
“Yeah, they’re nice out here. That was one of the first things I noticed. Noticed the night skies, too. My aunt’s parents lived in Chicago. When we moved in with them, I lost the sky, and I hated it. At least when you can look out and see the sky you can do stupid things like wish upon a star or something. You can imagine things will get better. When you’re looking across the building at some guy beating his wife and knowing she’ll never call the cops and won’t press charges if you do, it’s not so hopeful.”
Carson grimaced. “I can see that. There was a time when my mother was functioning well enough to live on her own, and she took a job in one of the bigger cities, trying to make it work. I remember us all being very unhappy then. I missed the farm, and my brothers hated being away from their friends. She just kept saying we’d get by somehow, but in the end, she lost the job, and we moved back in with Grandpa.”
“When was that?”
“Oh… I think I was about… seven? My memories of that time aren’t all that clear. I was too young. We can ask Larry and Nick if you want. Are you trying to narrow down when that memory was from? The one I got back yesterday?”
“Well, you said you were probably between six and eight. So… If you were in a big city until you were more like eight, then you were… eight, I’d guess. Were you eight when you left the city?”
“No. Just under, I think. I spent the summer here at the farm, like always, and Mom lost her job not long before I would have started school again. Yeah, I remember. I was asking her if she thought I’d have show and tell in my new grade, and Larry said no because show and tell was for babies, and I tried to hit him, but he was bigger than me, and then Nick got in on it, too. Mom dragged us apart and just started crying. It was weird at the time, but not all that uncommon afterward. It was like she either stopped taking her medication or it couldn’t balance her anymore. She was never the same.”
“How do you know that?”
“From what Nick and Larry said, mostly.”
Mackenna nodded. “Well, I think… It may be that point in her life and yours was when your father died. If she knew about it, if she did it, then she’d have fallen apart then, wouldn’t she?”
“When I told my mother I dreamed Dad was dead, she just about took my head off insisting that he was alive.”
“Yeah, but you’ve seen Psycho, right? Most obvious and ready example of someone who couldn’t handle the fact that they’d killed someone and had to pretend that the person was alive in order to function. I know it’s not exactly the same, but maybe she was so convinced that he wasn’t dead because he was dead, and she knew it. She couldn’t accept it, but he was.”
Carson bit his lip. He knew Mackenna could be right. They’d discussed this before. “I still have a hard time believing it was my mom. Well, I guess if she was protecting someone—me—then maybe, but she loved my dad. It was like poison with her. She never got over him, and she wasted away after he left, slowly but surely until the depression became cancer and she died.”
“Yeah, but that doesn’t rule her out. I’m sorry, but it doesn’t.”
“Come on. The sun’s up, Mac will be soon, and we may as well get started on breakfast.”