I close a filled box and begin filling another. Everything in here belongs to Lily. ‘Why are your things out here in boxes?’
‘They were supposed to go to storage. Before I came here, I was—well—I suppose you could say that I was getting out of Dodge.’
‘It’s an old saying. It means getting out of town before there’s trouble. Except that I was getting out of the country. I knew you were—that your parents would be—’ She sighs and shakes dirt from a cashmere fedora. ‘I knew that it was about time.’
Time. Almost like a rebirth. ‘What was it like?’
Lily startles. ‘What do you mean?’
‘Did you see the construction?’ It sounds harsh. It is. It was.
She vigorously shakes her head. ‘Oh, no. Once I knew what they were up to, I stayed at my place in Kennebunk. Your mother and I hardly talked during that period.’
‘You didn’t approve.’
She is quiet, laying the fedora in the top of a full box and closing it. She pulls two feet
of tape from the roll, the screech cutting through the dusty silence. ‘Approve is probably not the right word,’ she finally says. ‘Shock, maybe. Or fear.’ She thinks for a moment longer and adds, ‘Maybe approve is the right word. I don’t know. It was the unknown.’
I understand. It’s the unknown that I fear—the bits of memories that still have no connections; the role I played in Kara’s and Locke’s deaths; the voices that linger, too fresh; the constant game of weighing percentages, wondering if ten percent of one thing can be worth as much as ninety percent of something else. And then the answer that always runs through my neurons and neurochips: unknown.
‘That’s one thing Mother and Father didn’t plan on—the unknown. There’s a lot I haven’t told them.’
She perks up, looking almost pleased that I have found fault with Mother and Father’s little coup. ‘Like what?’ she asks.
‘Remembering my baptism, and even earlier memories.’
‘Are you sure?’
I nod. ‘It frightened me at first, but now, somehow it comforts me. Like I have every bit of who I was, maybe even more than the Jenna I used to be ever had. Maybe it makes up for what I’ve lost. Maybe it balances the percentages?’
‘Percentages!’ she huffs. ‘Those are for economists, polls, and politicians. Percentages can’t define your identity.’ She stacks books in a box and looks up. ‘What else haven’t you told them?’
I am still mulling over the word identity as I answer her. ‘I hear voices.’
‘You mean memories?’
I hesitate. ‘I’m not sure,’ I tell her. ‘Sometimes they seem too … fresh. Like they’re whispering right into my ear.’
She stiffens. ‘Who?’ she asks.
‘Kara and Locke. At least I think it’s them.’
She sits on a nearby box.
‘I know about them,’ I say. ‘I know they’re dead.’
‘You remember the accident.’
‘No. I read about it. But I think I already knew, somewhere inside. It didn’t shock me when I found out. It was more like a confirmation.’
She looks up at the rafters, the air, her gaze floating through the timbers like she has forgotten I am even there. ‘They were good kids,’ she says.
‘I didn’t do it, Lily.’ I move in front of her so she has to look at me. ‘I didn’t kill them.’
‘It was an accident, Jenna. Unintentional, however it happened. On that much we all agree.’