84. I Need You

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Said you had a thing or two to tell me.
How was I to know
You would upset me?
I didn't realise
As I looked in your eyes
You told me

The only sound is the wind in the branches of the apple trees. The trees are same as they were a moment ago, but I didn't notice them so much then. I didn't see how twisted the tree trunks were or how the boughs strain to hold the weight of the fruit. I didn't hear the rustle of the leaves, a sign autumn is coming, summer is ending and soon the world will be in winter; barren, desolate, empty and cold.

Cat sits next to me, hugging her arms around herself. Her eyes are wide as she watches me, waiting for me to speak or do something.

But I am still. So still, I nearly forget to breathe.

The dull roar of a car's engine disturbs the silence. Someone arrives at the farmyard on the other side of the house. Doors open and close. Voices, loud and then fading as they go inside the building. I can't see who it is from where we are.

'He was upset,' Cat blurts, when it is finally evident I don't plan on saying or doing anything ever again. 'You'd had that fight and it was... it was vicious, the things he was saying to you. You hardly said anything back, you just left. I think that's what upset him the most. He looked awful when you said you were going to bed and walked out.'

I take a deep breath and hold it for a few seconds before I exhale.

'He was drunk too, wasn't he?' Cat continues. 'He'd been drinking spirits and and beer, I think, and they say you should never mix your drinks. And... And when you'd gone, they all started smoking stuff...'

'You don't have to make excuses for him, Cat.'

'But I... I'm not. Han, I'm sure it wasn't... He wasn't thinking straight, was he? He wasn't thinking--'

'Oh, that's not George,' I say, sardonically. 'George thinks and George thinks straight. If there is one thing you can say about him. George knows his own mind very well. He knows what he wants. He knows who he wants.'

'Well, I don't want him,' Cat says, quickly.

I glance at her sideways and then return my eyes to the apple tree orchard.

'I don't!' she insists. 'I'm married now, too. Han, I swear, I didn't do a thing to lead him on or... or make him think that I would... would...'

I shake my head and her voice trails away. She sighs, raggedly, swallowing tears.

A moment passes. The people at the other side of the house have gone. The silence returns.

'Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I misunderstood what he meant.'

'Do you think you misunderstood?' I ask, turning to her.

Cat chews her lip. 'I...' She casts her eyes down. 'No,' she says, quietly.

A stronger wind blows, the trees sway violently, threatening to unload their apples. Somewhere behind us, a door slams.

'Do you... You believe me, don't you?' Cat asks, timidly, looking back at me. 'I'm not making it up.'

I give her a cool smile. 'Yes, I believe you,' I say, and Cat launches herself at me. I try to resist, and then try to wriggle out of her bear hug, but she holds me too tightly.

'You are my sister, Han,' Cat says, drawing back from me, but keeping her hands on my shoulders. 'I don't want to see you hurt. That's the only reason I came to tell you. I think you need to know if he's doing things behind your back. You have a baby together now. I don't know why he would...' Her eyes cloud with tears but I turn away, out of her hold, returning to stare at my trees.

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