Oliver rides with Dad in his lap. I stare forward and try not to become hysterical. It’s an interesting exercise—trying not to become hysterical. It’s the nature of that sort emotional outburst to be impervious to the effort to stop it.
“There’s something else I need to do,” I say and even though I’m still staring forward, I see Oliver’s head whip around and I feel the trepidation from his eyes burn my cheek. “It’s not anything weird,” I say.
“Comparatively?” he asks.
“Everything’s relative,” I reply and drive us to my apartment building.
“Where are we?” he asks.
“My place,” I say. “I need to show you something.”
We ride the elevator up in silence. Oliver is still holding Dad’s urn. I turn the light on in the entry hall and Oliver looks around, taking in everything he can about this part of my life I never let him see.
“I need to show you why I never let you come here,” I say and walk down the hall to the baby’s room.
“Normally, I’d be scared of that statement,” he says. “But given the way the rest of this day has gone, it seems pretty harmless.”
I turn on the light and step inside. Oliver follows me in and looks slowly from the crib to the open closet filled with little unworn clothes then he looks at me.
“You asked me what it was that wanted,” I say, recalling to him one of our last conversations. “What is was that I thought I couldn’t have.”
“A baby?” he asks.
“We tried everything,” I say. “It just didn’t happen. Now I just feel silly, keeping all this stuff.”
“Nina,” he says. “This is the greatest shrine to hope that I’ve ever seen.”
“You’re looking at it all wrong,” he says. “It hasn’t happened yet. Yet. You’re not dead. And you’re not sixty. And I’m not Jack.”
“What are you saying?” I ask.
“Do you really not know?” Oliver asks.
“Well I could make a guess,” I say. “But being wrong would be a big fat embarrassing bummer.”
“You’re not wrong,” he says. “But look, we’re on some sort of mission here, yes?”
He holds up the urn to me and I remember what we’re doing.
“Yes,” I say.
“We can talk about packing this stuff up later,” he says.
“What?” I say. “No, I can’t do that. That’s the thing. I should pack it all up but I can’t. What am I going to put in here?”
He sets Dad down on the little dresser and takes my hand.
“For an intelligent woman, you’re not catching on,” he says. “You can still have a baby. There’s still time. Hell, I’ll put all the effort into that you can stand.”
I feel myself blushing.
“But you need a fresh start,” he says. “So we give it till after exams and I’ll be free to come over here and help you box all this stuff up and take it to my place. And we can set it all back up and get straight to work. We can start right now if you want to. We’ll be late for dinner, but I’m ok with that.”