FIFTY-TWO - Two Words

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Dad was pretty sore by the time we arrived home from Lopez Island. Misty says he's trying to do "too much, too soon." I think she may be right because he kept wincing every time we drove over a pot hole or speed bump, and while we were all sympathetic at first, by the time we neared our cabin, it was getting a little old. Still, I made him some extra cheesy Kraft Dinner and chopped up some hotdogs to put in it and Misty didn't even bother to lecture me—not even a little. Then she said she would like to stay over at our place tonight in case Dad needed anything in the night, and was that all right with me, and I have to say I thought it was pretty nice of her to ask, even though I told her I didn't mind.

But I hope I can sleep tonight. The whole Peterson/Petra thing has left me emotionally drained, and last night I woke up about sixteen times to check on the Rip, Van, and Winkle to make sure they were still alive. It was totally nerve wracking. I have come to the conclusion that I don't think I will ever procreate. It's way too stressful worrying about little lives. I have enough trouble worrying about my own.

I put Petra back in her usual corner and am happy to report that her eyes look clear and bright and her fur has regained most of its original lustre. So at least there's that.

So, my plan is to turn off the lights and listen to my healing Solfeggio frequency music. I think I'll play the tracks that are 639 Hz tracks, because that frequency is supposed to be good for reconnection and balancing relationships. Not that Ivy and I are in trouble or anything, but I sometimes think she doesn't understand my sense of humour, which is very dry. Or, maybe I don't understand hers, which is very highbrow.

Anyway, it can't hurt.

***

4 a.m.

I am, without a doubt, the worst human being on Garcia Island, maybe even on the entire planet. I am seriously thinking about faking my own death, because I have ruined everything. I'm serious.

Here's what happened:

I woke up at one a.m. and I couldn't get back to sleep, despite laying on my back and counting the watermarks on the ceiling. After what felt like forever, I decided to get up and go out to the barn and hang with the llamas for a while. I knew Desmond would be up because he's a bit of an insomniac, too. I figured I would just chat with him for a bit, and then come back to bed. The barn is relaxing, and I wanted to play some Solfeggio tunes for him, too, because, unlike Ivy, I feel as though Desmond "gets" where I'm coming from.

So, I put on my boots and wrapped my comforter around me like a cape, and trudged over to the barn, and lit the old-timy kerosene lantern that Norm keeps hanging on an iron hook.

It had been so nice, just lying on the hay bales, talking to Desmond. He came right over and let me scratch him between the eyes, and I shared some random stuff with him—nothing heavy. Things like how I missed the view from our old house, even though our house faced Mr. Hamstra's house, and Mr. Hamstra had a habit of walking around his front yard in a Speedo in the summer which was kind of horrifying. 

I guess it was soon after that that I fell asleep. I don't remember. What I do remember, though, is waking up to find that my throat was burning and my eyes were sore as hell. Then I started coughing like I've never coughed before. Because there was smoke everywhere, and llamas freaking out, and it was really, really warm, and the next thing I knew Norm was hauling me out of the barn and yelling, "Myles! Are you okay? Are you okay?"

The next hour was a blur. The Garcia Island fire truck came and there was water and volunteer fire fighters and retardant and yelling, and more smoke, and then it all went quiet and we were left staring at what is left of the llama barn, which isn't much.

I know what happened. I'd fallen asleep and Desmond had most likely knocked the lamp off its hook to the hay strewn floor. How could I have been such an idiot? How could I have been so negligent? I was trespassing, and I could have killed the llamas!

I looked over at Desmond and Snowflake and Audrey, who were all clearly agitated in the paddock, and then I looked at Norm, who looked older than ever.

Dad and Misty had arrived during the chaos, and when the fire was good and out, they asked me what the hell had happened. But when I opened my mouth to tell them I had lit the kerosene lamp and fallen asleep, Norm placed a meaty hand on my shoulder and said. "It's my fault. I'm a damn fool, folks. I came out for a cigar and a think, and I guess I must have fallen asleep. Left that ol lamp burning and num-nuts over there must have knocked it over."

I couldn't believe it. He was trying to take the fall for me! I started to protest, but Norm just squeezed my shoulder even harder. "The llamas are fine," he said, "and we can rebuild the barn. Everyone is fine, Misty, so what the hell are you turning on those waterworks for, girl?"

But Misty cried even harder, and then she said something that stole my breath and made me feel hot and cold and the same time. She said, "Dad! What kind of an idiot with stage four lung cancer comes out to smoke a fucking cigar? What is wrong with you!"

She went off then, and Norm went off back at her. The fire fighters got in the truck and left, and the llamas settled down, and through it all, Dad tried to placate everyone.

But all I heard were those two words:

Lung. And cancer.

That's what she said.

Stage.

Four.

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