Two days after the party, Michael and Gwen left for Rye on the train and Lynn flew down to Oxford for a day.
I made a last push to get my two proposals submitted, hit a road block, then turned my attention to the attic project. I would leave in a little over a week and I hadn’t even started painting yet.
“I want your approval to recycle and throw some things out,” I said to Richard. “I can’t paint if I can’t reach the walls. Since Lynn is gone ….”
He was all for it, so we began carrying bags and boxes of old magazines and books and empty plastic bags and broken coat hangers and the posters from the wind turbine campaign down to the bins.
There were multiples of some books, including a collection of stories and poems by refugees. I seemed to remember that Christina, their Congolese foster daughter, had contributed to some such book. They went into the recycling bin.
Richard carried down a dozen suitcases and valises and garment bags and overnight bags and added them to a pile for the charity shop. Who uses garment bags anymore? Well, maybe for storage. Maybe someone would buy these garment bags at the charity shop and use them to store stuff in their attic.
I was painting in the attic the following afternoon when I heard Lynn come home. I worried that she would inspect what we had tossed, but didn’t hear any protesting downstairs.
I came down a little while later to find the poetry books on a bench outside the kitchen. My stomach turned. Richard exited the kitchen, head down, and headed upstairs without making eye contact.
Lynn was in the kitchen, chopping something with a large knife. She didn’t look up when I entered.
“The…uh…uh…books,” I stammered.
Lynn set down the knife and looked at me. “I’m not angry….” She started. She was disappointed, which felt much worse. “Chrissie contributed a poem to that collection. It was part of her program of adjustment.”
I, of all people, should have known better. I, who work for an organization that helps asylum seekers recover from trauma .
“I…I assumed she kept a copy,” I said lamely.
“Yes, well we don’t know that,” Lynn said. “She’s moved from to Belgium with two children and who knows what she was able to take with her.”
“You’re right, you’re right. I am really sorry. I feel like an idiot—I guess I was focused on my goal and in my zeal to Get it Done I just didn’t think.”
I carried the books back up to the attic and stayed there, painting, until dinner. The three of us were a bit quiet that evening, but by the next day things felt okay.
“I won’t be removing anything more from the attic,” I murmured to Richard when I caught him alone in the hall. He nodded in agreement.
It was a warm, sunny day so Richard set lawn chairs out in the garden after lunch and the three of us read and drank wine.
Richard fell asleep first.
“This is unbelievable,” Lynn remarked, “There’s an article here about an 18-year-old girl who has 27 million followers on Twitter, and if she says something about a product, they are suddenly swamped with orders!”
I was working my way through the latest issue of Private Eye, which is like Mad Magazine only strictly for adults and with British humor and inside jokes that I often don’t get.
“Ugh,” I responded lethargically. “I’ve been writing blog posts of—what I consider good-quality writing for years, and I only have a couple hundred followers.”
“You should write about fashion,” Lynn suggested.
“Right. Have you seen what I’m wearing?” I had been rotating the same four outfits for three months.
“You could try to get her to Tweet something about your organization. You’d get millions in donations overnight.”
“I doubt torture is her thing.”
But Lynn was asleep, and soon I was too, plus a dog or two. It had been a busy week and guilt is exhausting.