For the last couple of days, I've been pretty consumed with getting in touch with Violet. I think she was ignoring me for a good long while, maybe trying to teach me a lesson. I must have called her thirty times before she finally picked up late last night.
"You can't keep calling me like this," she said. I was so relieved just to hear her voice that I could barely contain myself.
"Yes, I can."
I'd spent the past two days trying desperately to get her on the phone. I'd planned to give her a piece of my mind, to yell and tell her to get her ass back here for her own good. I'd planned to be angry. Now I couldn't find anything to say, and I certainly couldn't find it in me to be angry. Our conversation was punctuated by brief periods of silence, the type of silence that happens when both parties have something to say, but neither will initiate.
"What are you gonna do?" I asked her.
"I figure I'll just stay in whatever town I feel suits me, until I feel like he's after me and I have to get moving again. I'll try to be back for fall."
"What if you get back and he's here?"
"Would you like a lie or the truth?"
"I'll leave again. And I won't hesitate like this time."
"What about Riley?"
"He trusts me. And he's saving up so that if I need him, he can hop right on a plane."
"The readers wish you luck."
"I know. I saw the comments earlier today."
"Why did you tell them to take care of me? I don't need anybody."
"Yes, you do. I'm not asking you to depend on them, Cee. Just listen to them. Trust them."
"I'm not going near that book, if that's what you -- "
"That's not what I mean. I know exactly how you feel about the journal."
"I hate it."
"I hate it and I hate myself for it. That thing was a piece of her."
"I'm the Witness."
"Did you ever doubt it?"
"Yes...or no. I don't know."
"That's okay. Things are changing and it's going to be confusing for a while. Some things are fixed, and some things are in flux."
"How do we know which is which?"
"I saved that little boy because I'm the Witness?"
"You saved the boy because you know. You lived to tell about it because you're the Witness."
"Rose too. At least, a little."
Silence. A long silence.
"I can save you too, Vi."
"No, you can't."
"Yes, I can."
Silence. My eyes start to burn.
"Please come back."
My throat starts to swell.
"I need you here."
My voice breaks.
"I can't do this without you."
"I'm still with you in this. Just a little farther away."
"Listen...I have to go. But if it helps, I'll keep track of my movements by posting them to Twitter. It's time we actually got some use out of that thing anyway. You'll get the updates on your phone."
"I'll talk to you soon. I love you, Celie."
"I love you, too, Vi."
I still clutched the phone to my ear long after she'd hung up.