She had spent so many years with someone else beside her that it felt strange to sleep alone. The drugs dulled the pain, but not the uneasiness of having the bed to herself. Sometimes she would reach out in the night for a chest to lay a hand on or hair to brush her fingers through. Cold sheets greeted her touch and jolted her back to awareness.
When Zoe had been little and Daniel had gone away on business trips, Amanda had pulled her daughter into bed with her. They’d watched girly movies and played with each other’s hair. Zoe had been so excited to share the bed with mother that sometimes it took until the early hours of the morning for her to settle down into sleep. It was a comfort to have Zoe beside her even when Daniel couldn’t be.
“You will never recover if you don’t sleep,” Clarice said. She was cooking Amanda breakfast, like she had every morning since they had arrived in the cabin. Even when Amanda had been too sick to eat much or when the pain killers killed her appetite, Clarice cooked for her.
“I know,” Amanda said. She turned her juice glass slowly, watching the facets catch the muted morning light. Thunderstorms had struck up overnight. When morning broke, so did the rain.
On nights when the thunder had been loud, they all crowded into bed together. Zoe would settled down between them, as if they and they alone could shield her from the thunder outside. Daniel stroked Zoe’s hair while Amanda wrapped her arms around her. They watched the lightning strike the forest at the far side of the lake until they all fell asleep.
The fire had changed it all. There had been no more sleeping together for comfort. Amanda had relied on wine to get her sleepy enough to drop off on the couch while watching old movies. Out here in the cabin there was no television and hobbling to the kitchen for wine in the middle of the night took more energy than Amanda had.
“When’s the rain supposed to stop?”
Clarice set a plate of scrambled eggs and toast in front of Amanda, who looked at it with disinterest. She was good to Amanda, but she could never bring her the comfort that had come with watching Zoe sleep.
“Tomorrow morning,” Clarice said. “Now eat.”
Amanda found that she could not. Instead, she turned the glass in her hand, scattering a rainbow across the table.