New Winslow S3E6
While Andrew had thought he felt the reality of his situation before, it wasn’t until Cleo walked in with a large cardboard box in her arms that it truly hit him.
His flat was gone. It wasn’t just sitting empty while he tried to go home. Someone else was sleeping in his bedroom, watching that view of the State House from the window. It was gone from his life. He could never go back.
He tried to shove down the wave of emotion rising in his throat and smile as Cleo walked in. “Thank you so much,” he said, hurrying over to take the box from her.
“Not a problem,” Cleo insisted. “I’ve got one more in the car I can go get in a minute. Everything else is secure in the storage unit. I swung by to check on it this afternoon before I left Boston.”
He set down the box on the floor. “I’ll go get that one,” he said. “I mean it, you’re an absolute lifesaver.”
She laughed, but there was a bitter note in the sound. “I’m not sure I’d go that far.”
“I would,” Andrew retorted. “Go sit down, you look knackered. Are you alright?”
Cleo nodded. “I’m fine. Just doing a lot of deliveries to cover my rent between jobs.”
“Go rest, get water, get wine, get whatever you’d like. I’ll be right back.”
She handed him her car keys before he could think to ask for them, and he headed out into the sticky June air. Her car was parked beside Olivia’s, closest to the door. Noah’s truck was on the other side of Olivia’s car, so he must have managed to get his keys back after the other night.
There was another large cardboard box in the backseat, the tabs folded into each other to keep it closed. Andrew picked it up, almost swinging it up over his head as it ended up being lighter than he’d expected. He slammed the car door shut, then headed back into the house.
Cleo wasn’t in the living room anymore, so he brought the box straight into Mia’s room and set it down on the daybed. He opened it and again, that wave of emotion crashed over him.
It was only clothes, he supposed. A few button-down shirts, his one pair of jeans, and the trainers he hadn’t bothered to replace. But it was as though they were artifacts of his past life.
He shouldn’t be welling up over a pair of dirty trainers, but here he was. He just needed to get it out of his system before he went back out to the living room for the second box, just in case Cleo was back.
Four nights later, Andrew woke with a start. It was two in the morning, he’d fallen asleep after midnight, and he had no idea what had actually woken him.
He lay there for a moment, gazing up at the blinking red light of the smoke detector. What was it that had gotten to him? He was unemployed and his apartment was already gone. But that wasn’t anything new. He’d fallen asleep on the couch again, halfway through a movie. Olivia must have turned off the TV as she came in from work and just let him keep sleeping on the couch.
He hadn’t been to the town line in three days.
He drew in a sharp breath as he realized this. Three days and he’d barely even thought of it. What if he’d missed his opportunity? What if the gates had opened, just for a little while, and he hadn’t been there? He’d been here instead, settling in.
This was ridiculous. He couldn’t just not go. Not being able to cross the town line was a problem and it needed to be solved, not ignored. He needed to be there every day, trying everything he could in order to get out and live his life again. He could appreciate everything Olivia was doing for him and enjoy spending time with her and Mia without completely giving up.
Andrew needed to get proactive again. On the days he wasn’t at Iris’s, he needed to make sure he still got to the town line to at least try.
But on the other hand, what kind of life was that? What if he never got out and ended up wasting the life he actually had just sitting at the town line? Roman’s friend had been here for how many decades? And Roman himself? If this was Andrew’s fate, then maybe he should adapt too.
How was he possibly supposed to decide what to do?
The question was still haunting him as the sun rose a few hours later.
Roman rang the doorbell, but then slid his spare key into the lock to open the door. Minnie wasn’t able to get up and answer the door, but it was only polite to let her know he was there before walking into her house.
He stopped at the mat, scraping off his shoes before kicking them off and setting them aside. The house was uncomfortably warm, but he knew that was how Minnie wanted it right now. So he just set down the pizza he’d brought, pulled off his overshirt, and straightened out his tee shirt before walking into the kitchen.
“Minnie?” he called down the hall. “Minnie, it’s me!”
“In here, sweetheart.”
Her voice was faint, and it took Roman a second to place that it was coming from her bedroom. She’d been spending more and more time there these days. Not necessarily always in her bed, but both the bed and the rocking chair by the window.
At least the room was cozy. It was small, much like the rest of her house, with bright floral wallpaper and deep pink carpets. His feet sank into them as he stepped into the room.
“Hi, Minnie,” he said, trying to keep his voice light even as the sight of her frail form still in her nightgown made his heart sink.
She smiled at him from her rocking chair, reaching out to squeeze his hand. “Roman, hi, sweetie.”
“I brought some pizza if you’re hungry,” Roman said.
“Maybe later,” Minnie said. “I’m not feeling too well today.”
Roman nodded, not sure what to say. He was hungry, but he wasn’t about to eat in front of her if she wasn’t eating too. So instead, he pulled up the wooden chair sitting beside the bed and joined her at the window.
They sat in silence, watching the world go by outside. The mobile park was buzzing with activity, with kids running around in the small yard across the street and a few men chatting at the end of one of their driveways. The younger of the men leaned on the back of a pickup truck as they talked, occasionally taking off his hat to wipe the sweat from his forehead.
Roan spotted Cleo Rodriguez making her way up the walk toward her mother’s house. Cleo had been around more and more lately and he wondered vaguely if she was moving back to the area now that Andrew seemed to be stuck for the long term.
“I’ve been dreaming about Jim lately,” Minnie said softly, breaking the silence.
Roman looked over at her. Her lined face had shrunk down on itself but the warmth of her smile hadn’t changed. She closed her eyes as a soft breeze came in the open window.
“It’s nothing scary,” she said. “And it’s always the same thing. I’m sitting here, right by this window, on a day just like this. And then he walks in the bedroom door. Just like he always did. It’s nice. And I think it might be more than a dream.”
“Do you think he’s really here?” Roman asked.
“I don’t know,” Minnie admitted. “But either way, it’s very nice to see him again.”
Roman nodded, not sure what to say. But Minnie didn’t seem to need an answer as she turned back to the scene outside.