So far, they had managed to build the Death Star and a walking AT-AT, set carefully on the bookcases, and they had moved onto a giant Millennium Falcon. Bobby sat cross-legged on the floor, carefully sorting through the Lego pieces, and Milo laid on his belly, a textbook splayed open in front of him.
The new Silversun Pickups CD played softly on the stereo, and the door to the balcony had been propped open, letting the cool winter breeze blow in. Bobby had flipped up the hood on his sweatshirt, but he didn’t mind the cold that much anymore.
It still felt weird to me stepping into Peter’s room, even though it wasn’t his room anymore, and it didn’t even really look like it. I breathed in deeply, still able to smell him faintly. I wrapped my arms around myself and shook my head to clear it of thoughts of him.
“What are you guys doing?” I asked.
“Stuff,” Bobby said stiffly, adjusting his thick black glasses. He never wore them, but he needed them to see the small pieces of the Legos.
“Bobby had a rough day at school,” Milo informed me without glancing up from his book. “He got some teacher that hates him. But he doesn’t wanna talk about it.”
“I see.” I walked over to Milo and looked down at his textbook, and all the words were in a different language. “What are you studying?”
“French,” Milo said. “How do you feel about going to France this summer?”
“Sure,” I shrugged. I stepped away from him and looked around the room. It looked so barren and large without all of Peter’s antiques cluttering it up.
I knew that Peter and I couldn’t live together anymore, not if I wanted to make things work with Jack, but I didn’t like the feel of empty space. But it wasn’t just his absence that made the house seem empty. Mae had taken a good chunk of the warmth with her, and the house had the distinct feel of a bachelor pad.
Since Milo didn’t seem to be in the mood to chat anymore, I went downstairs to check out the laundry situation. Under ordinary circumstances, Ezra would’ve been a rather clean, orderly guy, I’m sure, but he’d been all mopey without Mae. Milo was the only one who really picked up after himself, and I’d felt like I had to step up my game lately.
The laundry room was overflowing in a way that would’ve made Mae faint. Jack had once made a joke about how unreasonable it would be to wear a new outfit every day, but he had enough clothes where he could go months without washing it and still have clean stuff to wear. So, that’s what happened.
I shoved as many clothes as I could into the two washing machines and turned them on. Pushing the hair off my forehead, I surveyed the room and I’d barely made a dent on the laundry. Sighing, I turned to leave, since I couldn’t do much more for the time being.
I paused in the doorway and looked down the hall, towards Ezra’s den. The door stood partially open, and I could see the dim blue glow from the computer. He’d holed himself up in there since Mae had been gone.
Chewing my lip, I walked slowly down the hall to the den. I always felt I was invading his space, but I couldn’t just let him sulk anymore. Mae had left months ago, and Ezra had to move on at some point.
“Hello?” I asked and pushed the door open wider. I’d expected to see Ezra sitting at the computer, but he lay on the sofa, his arm draped over his forehead.
“Did you need something?” Ezra lifted his arm from his eyes so he could look at me.
“No, I just…” I shrugged and leaned up against the doorframe. I wanted to make sure he was okay, but that sounded silly to say. Of course Ezra was okay. He was Ezra. “What are you doing?”
“I don’t know,” he admitted. He dropped his arm to the side and stared up at the ceiling for a moment, his deep brown eyes looking beyond the wood. “I suppose it is time that I get up.”
“No, you don’t have to,” I said. “Nothing’s going on.”
“But you’re worried about me.” He sat up and looked around his den, which was unusually messy. Books and papers were strewn about, and a blanket lay rumpled on the floor. He’d been sleeping on the couch, preferring the distressed leather to the empty space of his bed.
“Is that a bad thing?” I asked.
“No,” he shook his head. “But I’ve spent too much time in here.” He rested his heavy gaze on me for the first time. “I’m being selfish and ridiculous. You have real things to mourn, and I’ve been sulking about like a whiny child.”
“Come on, Ezra. You and Mae were together for over fifty years. I can’t even fathom that.”
“But she’s alive and happy. Happier than I could make her.” He breathed deeply and turned away from me. “At least I have that.”
“She’s not happier,” I said. “She just... thinks she is, but she’s not.”
“A child was the one thing I could never give her, and it was the one thing she wanted more than anything else.” He spoke so quietly, I barely heard him, and then he shook his head and looked back over at me. “But how are you holding up with everything that’s been happening?”
“Great,” I shrugged. “Everything is about as good as can be expected.”
“Is it?” Ezra tilted his head, and his concern made me squirm. I lowered my eyes and fidgeted with the hem of my shirt.
“Hi, honey, I’m home!” Jack shouted from the other side of the house, and I smiled in relief. I didn’t want to delve into how I really felt, not even with Ezra.
“Jack’s back,” I said, as if Ezra hadn’t heard the same thing I had. “I’m gonna go.” I edged back out the door, but I waited until he nodded before I sprinted down the hall.
“Good, you’re here,” Jack grinned when he saw me. He stood in the middle of the dining room, and his excitement crackled through me.
“Yeah. Why?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I told you. I did something awesome.” His eyes sparkled, and he grabbed my hand. “Come on. I wanna show you.”
“What?” I repeated.
“Okay, remember how you’re driving now?” Jack asked, pulling me along towards the garage.
“I can’t really forget it.”
“And with me, you, Ezra, Milo, and Bobby all driving our own cars, it doesn’t really seem like we have enough vehicles?” He paused at the door leading to the garage. “And how I’ve been needing to buy a new car since I lost my Jeep?”