New Winslow S6E28
The waves towered over him and he knew. He knew he wasn’t getting out of this. No, he was going to die here alone on the ocean, away from everything and everyone he loved. He wanted his mother so badly it hurt. He wanted her to tell him everything would be alright. And as the waves bore down on him and the icy rain flooded his eyes, he knew he wasn’t going to see her again. Someone was screaming, long and piercing, and the sound jerked him out of the dream with dizzying force.
Noah was just inside of his apartment door when he woke up this time. By now, he wasn’t even fazed when he woke up somewhere weird. Well, he was, but he was used to it. And despite how mortifying it had been when he woke up on the stairs that night, the fact that others now knew about his sleepwalking too made it feel just slightly more normal. It was just stress, of course he was stressed out. He was on the move all day, keeping his mind busy with work, therapy, and meetings and his body worn out by the endless train of repairs needed both at home and at the Limerick. And stress was a common cause of sleepwalking, so it made perfect sense.
However, the rawness in this throat meant that he was definitely the one screaming just now. But no one seemed to be coming up the stairs, so either his soundproofing was better than he thought, or Liv and Andrew were both already over at the Limerick. He’d be joining them in a little while, he just needed to regain his bearings and get dressed first.
He thought about his mother as he stood up, shaking out the cramps, and made his way toward the kitchen. Not a topic he tried to think about often, but the lingering feeling of wanting her was still there. Even if it wasn’t Noah’s real mother that he wanted, it was the mother from that dream. His actual mother had spent the first half of her life in New Winslow, then left her husband and children behind to follow her dreams somewhere far away. Normally, Noah dealt with this by simply ignoring the fact that she existed at all. But this morning, he just couldn’t shake the thought.
He pulled out his phone before he realized how ridiculous it would be to call her. Not just the fact that it was about seven o’clock in the morning, making it five where she was. But she didn’t want to hear from him. She’d done her job, at least according to the courts. They always had the money they needed for the mortgage and to feed Erin and Noah. But motherhood hadn’t been for her, so she’d left. Noah hadn’t mattered to her then, and he didn’t matter now.
Instead of calling that number, he scrolled a little farther, then hit Send. The ringing began as he started setting up his coffee maker. A moment later, it connected.
“Hey, Erin,” he said, scooping coffee into the machine he’d bought to replace the one Erin had given him and he’d apparently broken while sleepwalking. “Sorry, did I wake you?”
“What? No, I’ve been up for a couple hours. What’s going on? Is everything okay?”
That shiver of shame that went through him was well-deserved, Noah knew that. During the worst of his addiction, when he’d apparently confessed to Andrew that he wanted to kill himself except they couldn’t afford the mortgage on the duplex without him, Liv had reached out to Erin for help. And Erin had then reached out to Noah, just to have him slam the door in her face.
Figuratively, of course. No, he’d saved the literal interpretation of that for Liv. Shit, why had he called?
“I’m sorry,” he said. “No, everything’s fine. I don’t know why I called. I’ll let you-”
“Like hell you will,” Erin said with a laugh that melted some of his fear. “It’s good to hear from you, there doesn’t have to be a reason.”
The coffee maker now steaming, Noah went to feed Gray Lady. Going through the motions of pouring food (too much food, the vet wasn’t going to be happy with him) was comforting. “I think I just had a nightmare, that was all,” he said. “I was thinking about Mom.”
“Yeah. Want to hear something stupid?”
“I almost called her. Just a minute ago.”
There was a beat of silence and Noah thought maybe he’d fucked up. He tried to remember his conversations with Erin, if there was some reason this was the wrong thing for him to say. That hazy time when she called to confront him. But no, then there was that call from rehab when she’d quietly assured him he was doing the right thing.
Then Erin laughed. “That would be comforting,” she said. “Sharing your nightmare with her voicemail.”
“Better than actually reaching her. Or her assistant.”
“God, can you imagine? Even when she was there, before she and Dad got divorced. It wasn’t like she was there for us. Dad did all of those kinds of things.”
Noah had only been seven when their parents split up, but Erin had been seventeen. So she had been nearly an adult and had a childhood full of memories, for better or worse. Noah remembered her being there too, but his memories of his mother’s presence were much vaguer. His father, however, was crystal clear and now he was facing that loss without any buffer.
“I miss him,” he said softly.
They were quiet for a second and Noah looked over at the recliner in his living room, where Gray Lady was still curled up. The thing was falling apart, but it was his dad’s favorite and had been Noah’s too whenever he could sneak into it as a kid.
“How’s Liv’s baby?” Erin asked as he waited impatiently for the coffee to brew.
“Huge,” Noah said with a fond laugh. “God, Erin, you should see her. She’s turning two next week.”
“Swear to God. It’s preschool next.”
“Give me your address, I’ll send a gift.”
Noah rattled off the address as he poured the coffee into a chipped mug. They chatted for a few more minutes, but then Erin begged off, saying she needed to go to work.
“Love you,” she said. “Noah, I mean it. You can always call me. You don’t need a reason.”
His face was warm, but he nodded around the lump in his throat despite the fact she couldn’t see him. “Yeah,” he said. “Love you too.”
She hung up and, after a second of dead air, he did the same.