There wasn’t much to say, and there hadn’t been much to say for awhile now. Izzy was in the back with her nose in a book, not saying anything to anybody. It seemed to Gret that she had at least been sleeping better in the last month or so. At least. The time between bad nights was getting longer. In the beginning she would shake in her sleep unless Gret was there with her, and sometimes that still happened, but more and more now she was just being quiet.
Gret had talked to the counselor at school – nothing. The teachers – nothing. She was doing okay, they said. And she really was, under the circumstances.
Gret looked into the rear-view mirror just in time to catch Izzy avert her eyes and return to her book. It was a long ride to Coaldale.
Under the circumstances. Whose fault was it that she had to deal with those circumstances? And whose fault was it that there were things about the world that nobody had told her?
You couldn’t prepare her for this. You let her go in blind, and see things she shouldn’t. Now it’s time to tell her the truth, and you’re passing it off for somebody else to deal with. You’re a failure. You’re her mother.
It’s for the best. She has to know; she has to know now, and you’re not the one to tell her. Not you and not dad.
Keep on driving, because she has to know. Even if you want to turn around. Even if you want her to stay home. Keep on driving down to Coaldale, because she has to know what you’ve been hiding from her.
Izzy would come home from the sleepover either bursting with questions and angry at being lied to, or just quiet some more. Two years ago they had told her Santa Claus wasn’t real. Gret couldn’t tell how much of the anger was from being lied to and how much of it was from being told the truth. She had asked, then. Izzy had asked.
Now they were throwing her into it, because she has to know. This would be the last time she would have to walk in blind, to anything.
They drove past the Rite Aid and turned onto Fisher Avenue, where the big house was. They pulled into the driveway. It looked different from how Gret remembered it. She stopped the car. Izzy looked up from her book.
“We’re here,” Gret said.
Izzy grabbed her bag and opened the door without saying anything. She got out of the car.
“Hey! Come here!” She beckoned her daughter over and kissed her goodbye. “Be good, okay?”
I love you.
“I love you, Izzy. Have a good time.”
“Love you too.”
Izzy walked up the front path to the door.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” Gret called to her.
Izzy waved vaguely, and knocked on the door. A woman opened it. From the car, Gret could see Charles and Matt standing nearby. Izzy walked inside.
Gret sighed. There were plans to make. She started the car and drove back home to have dinner with her dad and the Marshals. Izzy’s gonna be okay. You’re doing the right thing. And she has to know.