Of Frogs and Men, and Chapter 58 of The Voice In The Forest


Hi Everybody!

Have you ever had one of those friends who you have known for so many years that they have become an indelible part of your psyche?

Like a freckle on your forearm, you know the shape of them and are as comfortable with them as any other part of your skin.

You can go months without contact because life and then get together and have entire conversations with your eyebrows that no one around you could ever understand?

I am lucky enough to have some of them.

One of those friends of mine recently sent me message entirely out of the blue saying that a famous musician we have literally never discussed is a frog…

Ya’ll… I knew what she meant. No, it wasn’t some derogatory thing. It’s an inside joke about butts…

At some point, I will successfully write characters with this dynamic because it’s one of my favorites.

And Men

Serious question: would it annoy you if there was a single narrator for all the Cinders in Midnight Glass books even if that narrator was a woman even though there are some chapters in later books from Tristan’s point of view? 

The Voice In The Forest

Chapter 58

By the time we reached my bedroom, my hands shook and my legs felt like jello melting from its shape in the sun into something that more resembled a stain than anything with weight and shape.

All of that, the weakness in me, disappeared as soon as I opened the door and Montgomery touched my hand.

His face was the picture of shock, ashen and distant, and if he had been alive I would have called emergency services to haul him to the hospital. The only thing I could do for Montgomery was to get rid of Henry and hope I would be enough to help him.

“Thank you, I’m tired. I’m going to sleep now.” I whirled back and shut the door in Henry’s face, more than a little rude and hoping he would take it as part of my erratic behavior in response to the coffin and mother’s death.

Once the door was shut I launched myself at Montgomery and he wrapped me up in his arms as we slumped down to the floor.

He needed me, but no matter how many times I told myself to hold it together for him, tears built at the back of my eyes and I struggled to get air into my lungs as I clung to him.

Counting in my head, both as a way to track the passage of time and give Henry a chance to stop haunting the other side of my door, and as a way to contain the overwhelming emotions racing through me, I got to one hundred before I spoke.

“Are you okay?” I whispered. Maybe I should have spent that time counting to come up with a way to check on him without asking a question I already knew the answer to. Of course he wasn’t.

Montgomery let out a humorless bark of a laugh.

“No, but I don’t know where to begin,” he said, his grip on me tightening.

Somehow he got me up from the floor and we shuffled our way to the bed, never letting go of each other.

I wanted to give him time, to let him tell me when he was ready, but the need to know, to try and understand, and maybe even figure out a way to help hammered against the inside of my skull screaming for me to ask.

“Can you tell me?” I asked instead of any of the other things scrambling around in my head.

He dragged in a shuddering breath through lips that trembled as he pulled back enough to meet my eyes with his.

Those eyes I loved swam with tears, drowning both of us in his pain.

“When he said my mother… I realized…I don’t know. I’m not sure even now if I’m wrong or not.”

Cupping his cheek in my hand, I bit my lip to keep from interrupting as he tried to work through his thoughts out loud.

Leaning into the touch, he nuzzled my palm, squeezing his eyes shut, his tears wetting my skin.

How could I be there for him through this, help him, if I couldn’t make sense of his words? But he didn’t seem to be able to make sense of them either, and I knew from my own experience that pressure from others almost never amounted to something that would magically make thoughts become clear.

Burying me head into his neck, I tightened my hold on him and he returned the pressure in his embrace of me.

Somehow, just thinking about him being confused and lost as he tried to speak of whatever had made him blink away from me left me reliving far too many times the doctors or mother would demand I explain something that I was simply incapable of.

Was I traumatizing Montgomery the same way I had been?

A shudder ran through me and Montgomery must have mistake it for being cold as he began to shift us so that we were both laying under the blankets.

There wasn’t a real decision made once we were laying wrapped up in each other in the safe, soft confines of the bedding. One moment I was looking at him, holding him and brushing his tears away, and the next I was kissing him.

Much of our time together had been some version of melancholic or even felt doomed, but this kiss was the most weighted of them all.

Being together had felt like a salve over so many of my old wounds in some strange way. As if loving a ghost had healed some of the years of trying to believe what the doctors said about me seeing them in the first place.

Now, though, this kiss was steeped in all the pain of that reality and somehow tasted as if my future held even more of the disbelief of people or my lying to them.

And in that coming too soon someday, he wouldn’t be there with me.

Of all the things that were still giant question marks in my mind, and there was more than things that held answers, today somehow made it even more obvious that I was losing him and that being without him was the way it was supposed to be.

Finally, as I tried to force back all the thoughts plaguing me, he pulled back and brushed my hair away from my face as he stared into my eyes and some of his resolve seemed to reform in his as all the threat of tears left him and the wetness dried on his cheeks.

“I think I know what happened to my mother…” he said, his voice strong and sure even if his fingers shook where they rested along my cheek, “maybe what happened to me.”

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