Anne hated being helpless. It was all over the news. The earthquake ripped L.A. apart and, she was sure, took Joseph along with it. The phone rang all day with calls from friends, but none from him.
This is nonsense, she thought. I don't know for sure that anything happened to him. I wish he would call though. She hadn't liked the thought of him sticking her in rehab and then leaving so suddenly. He said that it couldn't be avoided. He said his career was on the line and the only way to get out of poverty was to play the game. There was another TV show that wanted his guitar playing for their closing credits. It might lead to more royalties, perhaps even a recording deal. She knew how hard he worked for this chance.
But the sense of betrayal didn't go away. She saw the wreckage on the freeways and the collapse of the buildings and felt justified in telling him not to go back then. She had begged him to stay. She was twenty five days sober now and her emotions were out of control. Her anger towards him was gone now. Just a few weeks before she felt resentment for being in rehab. Now, she wished he would come back to her alive.
She prayed for him. Anne missed him. She knew that, whatever his other faults might be, he missed her as well. And she needed his guidance. He had been down this particular road before. He knew how to fight addiction and recreate a life. I need him more than ever, she thought.
Anne heard a light tapping on her door and she turned to see Ben standing there with yellow roses in his hand. "I thought these might brighten up your room a little," he said. He walked up to her and hugged her and gave her a peck on the cheek. "How have you been doing?"
She turned off the TV. "I've been watching the news all day and waiting for the phone to ring," she said.
"What's been going on?" Ben said. "I've been at the office."
"There's an earthquake. In California. Down in L.A. where Joseph is supposed to be signing that TV contract," she said.
Ben scowled at the mention of Joseph's name. "Don't look that way," she said. "If he wasn't down there, he would be in the room with me and you would have to deal with him in person."
He set the flowers down on the cart in front of him. "I can't believe he left you here and ran off to California," Ben said. "I would never do that."
"I know," she said. "You were always good in an emergency. I know how much you liked taking care of me."
"How could he take off when you were going through this?" he said.
She sighed. "You make it sound so easy. It's not. I needed some time without him. I needed to think this sobriety thing through and find out if it's really what I want. I couldn't do that honestly if he was here."
I still don't know, she thought. Never have a drink again? Never is a long fucking time. I couldn’t even stick with Atkins, how can I stick with this? I know I was acting crazy and impulsive. But damn. Never?
"Is all this really necessary?" Ben said. "I don't remember you ever drinking that much when we lived together."
"I did," she said. "I hid it from you. And it wasn't all the time. One of the reasons I was looking for spiritual answers was because I knew something was going wrong in my life. My drinking got worse after Neal died. I never told you. I'm sorry."
"I know how strong you are, Anne," he said. "Do what they want you to do, and everything will be back to normal soon."
"You're very sweet," she said. "But things haven't been normal for awhile. And they never will be again."