EIGHTEEN

123 10 1
                                                  

I wondered how Cory would have felt if he knew how far I'd gotten in his case. I wondered if he was looking down on me with a bright smile. I wondered . . . if he was proud of how far I'd come without him. Without his shoulder to lean on. Dependency is a dangerous thing. Yet we continue to welcome it with open arms. Sometimes, I often wondered how my life would have turned out without it.

Steaming hot water drowned my pores. It stung to say the least, but I didn't mind.

"Babe, don't stay there too long. I don't want you to fall asleep again," John said, peering through the crack of the door.

Come to think of it, how John had been dealing with the situation compared to myself, I had no idea. He spent so much time worrying about me, I never had the chance to worry about him. He could refuse all he wanted but there was no denying, he needed the comfort too. Sometimes I felt like a bad wife for not properly giving it to him.

"Did you hear me?" he questioned.

I nodded, rinsing the soap off my stomach. "Yeah, I'm coming out in a minute."

He eased his head back with a small smile, closing the door.

An hour ago I had run the bath water until the tub was half-way filled. My first thoughts were to acquire a game plan. How was I going to talk to Mrs. and Mr. Adams without suspicion? How was I going to slip past John to follow the river? There's no chance he'd let me go hiking in the woods alone. I wasn't even sure I'd let myself go hiking in the woods alone.

Last night, I'd knocked the list down to two rivers that carry along New Jersey. In terms of proximity, only these two were closest in possible relations of Holly's bones whereabouts. Clareleche River flows through Shifton and West Greenbush, New Jersey. Meanwhile, Sterile Brook doesn't flow through Shifton at all, only West Greenbush. Though, it goes on further than Clareleche. I still couldn't figure out how far down the river her bones might've been. Then, there was the where. The river is already spacious. Then, taking the river's surroundings into consideration, everything is wide and filled with trees. So, the more I imagined myself searching alone, the less likely the pacing of this outcome seemed like it'd be fast—or even possible. Not to mention, the dangers I've already concerned myself with.

"John, can you bring me my towel! I forgot it on the bed!"

He shouted back okay, then footsteps thumped past the door in a swift manner. My ears perked at the thumps coming back this way. John strolled into the bathroom with my towel.

"Here, let me help you," he said. I took his hand and stood from the water, placing one foot out of the bathtub. I'm sorry, Mary, there's a chance I might have to pass on this one. But would it be cruel of me to leave Holly Adams undiscovered? I'm the only person who knows where she might be. Huh, I wonder . . . what if I told John—about everything? Ha, Angie are you listening to yourself? Get a grip! That'll only give him a legitimate reason to make sure I'm hospitalized.

"Careful babe." John clenched onto my hand.

"Thank you," I murmured, while closing the towel around me. Yeah, there was no way I could put all of that stress onto him. Sometimes I feel as though, I don't deserve his generosity. Baby steps, Angie. I sighed. Coaxing myself was the only option left until I came to a decision.

My eyes followed John's movements. His shoulders relaxed when I caressed his skin.

Besides the risk, there were also consequences. How would Mary react if I didn't go through with this? Would she leave me alone? Would she haunt me for the rest of my life? I couldn't bear the guilt. And I'm sure there'd be no satisfying her until every child's bones are found. Come to think of it, what happens when all thirteen children are found? Do we just . . . part ways? The butterfly will no longer show up. My life would go back to normal—not that is has been since Cory left us.

Mary's BonesWhere stories live. Discover now