You’re probably wondering if I ever did finish cleaning Abigail’s apartment. I did. Without Judith seeing me (or maybe she avoided knowing), Susan opened the back door and together we packed away Abigail’s books, records, photo albums and clothes. She had little else. When we were finished, Susan handed me $50. “Judith says you’ll be leaving the complex.” I admitted as much and confided that Kevin was introducing me to a neighbor who rented rooms in a Victorian on Argonne Ave. I’d be leaving after the new year.
“I kind of made a fool of myself over Abigail’s accident,” I said.
“I don’t think so,” said Susan. "That detective came and talked to me about Abigail’s boyfriends and her life after Kevin. Not that I could tell him anything. I won’t forgive myself for that, you know. Sisters should know about each other. We do know each other’s weaknesses. If I hadn’t been so disappointed in her for leaving Kevin, though I understand it now, I would have known what she was up against.”
“Up against? What do you mean?”
“Don’t you think she was trying too hard to play that freedom game? We’ve all been playing it. I do. Before I got married, I acted like I could do whatever I wanted with my body because it was mine. I didn’t always realize that because it’s mine I should be careful what I do with it.”
“So how did getting married change that?” She blushed.
“Actually, it wasn’t marriage that matured me but getting pregnant. It’s a cliché, I know, but having to take care of the baby made me take care of myself. After that I couldn’t help but think back and compare how I tended to myself with a baby to the party years when I was empty.
“I don’t feel empty. Not physically, anyway.”
“I’m not saying this well. The baby was more of an excuse, or a reason to love myself better. Like training wheels. After I’d had nine months of really thinking about what I had and what I owed my own body, I kept on thinking it. You probably won’t need that but I did. And maybe Abigail did too, because in the end she died without having found a reason to take care of what she had…herself. She died thinking she was in love with a man who had used her and who didn’t want anything to do with her. John (Boker) told me every time he questioned Ken Eberhard he got a little closer to the truth of that relationship until he finally had enough to believe. Eberhard couldn’t wait to get out of Abigail’s living room and her life. He wanted her gone but he didn’t kill her. He didn’t do her any favors.”
“He might have saved her life.”
“Yes. If he’d cared even a little bit more about her than himself, he might have insisted she go to the emergency room.”
“Though if she’d cared about herself, she might have taken herself.”
“Except her car was in the shop.”
“So she called you.”
“And she stopped there. She could have called me and she didn’t. She could have called Ricky. She could have told the answering service what had happened, or gone next door to that couple.” “But she didn’t do any of those things.”
“She didn’t worry about herself enough. She was a trained flight attendant but she didn’t care about saving her own life.” “Are you sure we aren’t making excuses?”
“Maybe we are. Maybe we’ll continue to make excuses until we run out. I just come back to the one. She did almost nothing to save her own life and that behavior did not start when she banged her head on a glass table; it happened long before.”