Chapter 47 - Blimmy?
I laid back on the pillow, my eyes fluttering as uninvited sleep crept in. Jimmy’s revelation, and my own, had left me exhausted. As I drifted in and out of dreams, flashes of Viola ghosted through my mind. It had felt so real when she was sat beside me, and yet here I was, alone without her again. It had been bittersweet to see her, but despite the gnawing guilt that she’d brought with her, I would have given anything to see her again.
A whisper came from the doorway, snapping my eyes open. I lifted my head and peered through the darkness. I could see her slim silhouette, embellished with her wild ringlets.
“Hallie? You sounded just like your mother then,” I whispered back, trying to make her out. She stepped into the moonlight, letting it illuminate her soft features. As her eyes fell upon me, she looked as though she could hardly believe that I was here. Her lip trembled a little.
“You’re awake,” she breathed, lingering in the pale light that was pouring in from the window.
“What are you doing up?” I asked, gesturing for her to come closer. She quietly stepped over to me and climbed onto the bed, being careful to avoid my injury. As she nuzzled up to me, I put an arm around her and let her love wrap itself around me.
“I haven’t been able to sleep well since we came home. I heard Jimmy come up and tell Brian you were awake,” she explained, relaxing into me. “I wanted to come and see you.”
Poor Hallie, she must be exhausted. I kissed the top of her head, “I’m glad you did. You think you could sleep now, next to me?”
She nodded, already stifling a yawn as she snuggled in closely, “I think so.”
“Then close your eyes,” I whispered, hushing her. I gritted my teeth and ignored the searing sting of my wound and brought my other arm over to wrap her in a complete embrace.
As she settled, her little voice broke through the quiet of the night, “Auntie Maz?”
“You know when you said I was like a daughter to you… I feel like that about you too. I haven’t forgotten mom, but, you know…” she trailed off, waiting for me to gather her train of thought by myself.
I stroked her hair, gently, “I know.”
My heart swelled with happiness at her admission. Maybe Viola was right. We both still had family, we had each other. Maybe we weren’t doing so badly after all.
It only took a minute or so for her breathing to shift into the deep sighs of sleep. Despite the pain in my chest, I could feel my own mind slipping away. I closed my eyes, and let myself drift off, snuggled up to my girl.
When I woke, Hallie was still curled up next to me. The nagging ache had bloomed into full, unadulterated agony, and a thin layer of sweat covered me, plastering my blonde waves around my face. I extracted my arms from around Hallie as I screwed my face up in an effort not to make any noise. As I turned over, Brian’s presence in the chair gave me a start.
“Jesus,” I muttered, groggily. I put my arm over my eyes and let out a pained groan.
“Here,” he whispered, trying to get my attention. I pulled my arm away from my face and looked over at him. His arms were extended towards me, pills in one hand and water in the other. “Take these.”
I sat myself up as much as I could manage, wincing as my skin pulled around the scabs. Hallie stirred briefly beside me before turning over and falling silent again. I tipped the pills into my mouth and swigged the water.
“You hungry?” he asked in hushed tones as I swallowed it all down. He pulled a face as I shook my head. “You should eat something anyway.”
“I really don’t want anything,” I protested, wiping at the sheen on my brow as I laid back down.
He pursed his lips, “I insist that you eat something. I could make you oatmeal?”
“Okay,” I relented, not having the energy to argue. Brian hovered for a moment, his gaze drifting over to Hallie.
“You know, she’s barely slept since we got back. Mostly been by your side,” he commented awkwardly, almost stiffly.
I looked over at her with adoration, “Has she?”
“She’s a testament to you, you know,” he mumbled, so quietly I almost didn’t hear him.
“What?” I turned my head back to him.
“She’s a strong girl. She’s obviously got it from you,” he continued, still almost inaudibly.
I furrowed my brow, “Brian, what’s going on?”
“Nothing,” he muttered, turning away. “I’ll get that oatmeal going.”
He stood and left the room, avoiding my eye as he did so, leaving me utterly confused. Our last conversation had hardly been friendly, so why he’d seemingly done a U-turn in his opinion of me was beyond me. His latest offering was nothing short of bizarre in comparison. No sooner than he’d gone was he replaced by another face.
“Hey,” Jimmy beamed as he stepped into the room.
“Well, I’m popular today,” I joked, lightly, as he made his way over to me.
His eyes widened as he saw Hallie sleeping beside me and he dropped his voice to a whisper, “Oh, sorry. I didn’t realise she was in here.”
“She came in last night,” I explained, casting an affectionate glance over at her.
Jimmy smiled, “She’s been worried about you.”
“So Brian tells me,” I replied, raising an eyebrow as I turned back to him. He looked around with an urgency before leaning in close to me.
“Don’t tell anyone,” he whispered, secretively, with a grin, “but Brian’s been worried too.”
“He hasn’t,” I argued, raising an eyebrow.
“He has, Marina,” Jimmy nodded. “He’s been kicking himself since you left after his little bitch fit.”
I blinked at him, taken aback, “He told you about that?”
I quickly flushed crimson. If Brian had mentioned that, then he had likely mentioned my little expedition to exhume his bride also.
“He did,” Jimmy confirmed, his eyes twinkling. “You’ve got balls to have gone looking for Blair’s stuff. I wish I’d had that courage.”
“Why haven’t you?” I asked, watching his expression morph as frown lines ran across his face.
“Have you seen Brian angry?” he asked, half-jokingly, though his enthusiasm had all but deserted him. I gave him a sympathetic smile. “And truthfully?” he continued. “When Brian packed everything away, I was devastated, but I got used to not seeing her face, seeing her stuff around the house. I was scared that if I went and looked at it… maybe it wouldn’t be as perfect as I remember.”
“I get that,” I nodded, turning thoughts of my niece and sister over in my mind.
“So I stuck to this,” he continued, pulling the ring from his pocket. He turned it over in his fingers, examining it. “It never fails to make me smile. Especially when I see the engraving.”
He held it out to me for me to look at more closely. I hesitated in reaching out for it. It was such a tiny object, yet it held such immense value to Jimmy, and that intimidated me in a strange way. Jimmy held it out insistently and I slipped my hand forwards, my fingers brushing against his as I curled them around the small ring. I brought it closer to my face and peered at the etching that ran around the inside of it.
“Blimmy?” I read out, screwing my face up in confusion.
“That’s right,” he nodded, eagerly. I could tell a story was coming by the look on his face. He smiled at the memory he was about to impart on me. “Blair went nuts when she saw it. I can still hear her ranting through her laughter now…
‘Jimmy, why the fuck did you get Blimmy engraved on it? That’s the worst version of our name you could have picked. Is that really the only combination you could come up with?’
When I asked what she would have preferred, she said ‘fucking Sullivair or something’, like that was an obvious alternative. I’ve never heard her use such colourful language, but the overall notion of the ring won her over, so she wore it anyway. And it was her wedding day, so she couldn’t be mad,” he grinned, smugly. The glimmer of humour in his eye coaxed a smile across my lips. “I’m sure she secretly loved it.”
“I imagine it was more a matter of toleration,” I replied, dryly, smirking. A peal of laughter burst out from his lungs, immediately waking Hallie.
“Blair would have liked you,” he whispered to me quickly, with a smile, before the sleeping monster was completely with it.
“What’s going on?” she grumbled, rubbing her eyes. She sat up, squinting as the sunlight hit her eyes. “What are you doing here?”
Jimmy snorted, “Rude.”
“What are you two doing?” she asked, eyeing us with suspicion.
I propped myself up on my elbows and laughed at her, “What exactly do you mean?”
“You better not be kissing next to me or something,” she shuddered.
Jimmy burst into a fit of hysterics as I gasped out, “Hallie!”
She watched me flush a deep red.
“You’re blushing! You have been kissing!” she accused, looking horrified, though her lip was twitching into a smile.
“We haven’t! Stop doing that,” I laughed, loudly. The movement tore at my tight skin and took my breath away, cutting me short. I winced as I tried to catch it again, instinctively clutching at my chest as I panted. The merriment in the room dissolved quickly, and Jimmy appeared over me, concern lining his face.
“Okay, you need rest,” he ordered, though his tone was gentle.
“What’s going on in here?” Brian questioned, appearing at the door with the promised oatmeal.
“Marina is eating, and then sleeping. That’s what’s going on,” Jimmy informed him.
“Can I skip the eating bit?” I tried, still not thrilled with the idea of force feeding myself.
“No,” Brian and Jimmy said in unison, raising their eyebrows at each other.
Jimmy helped me to sit up as Brian brought the bowl of liquid cardboard over to me. He dumped it into my lap and made a swift exit, followed by Hallie, who’d decided that the mere thought of Jimmy kissing me was enough to drive her away.
“This looks… gross,” I remarked, lifting the spoon and letting the slop drip into the bowl.
“It does,” Jimmy agreed, grimacing. He frowned at it for a moment before his face lit up. “I know what you need.”
I watched in confusion as he bounded out of the room like a puppy. It was only when I heard him returning, accompanied by a soft rustling that I realised what he’d gone to get and smiled to myself in amusement.
Those goddamn Lucky Charms.
A bit of reunion, a dash of Blimmy, some lucky charms, and Hallie being a teenager.