It only took a moment for Charlie to realized why what Maggie had just said was unusual. It was the first time he remembered her bringing up Mike’s name, and one of few times she said something good about him.
Maggie nodded in the direction of the makeshift dining table. “When I came here yesterday, I saw those papers you’d found still over there.” Charlie had taken those notebook pages from Mike back to his parents’ home that evening. “I ‘member turning away from them right away, but then I was like, Whoa, what’s up with that? Because it wasn’t like those were dirty pictures, or anything.”
“Right.” Charlie kept his expression as neutral as he could.
“So I got to thinking, why did I react that way? And then I thought about all the times I’ve been short with you, whenever you’ve talked about Mike, and his stories.” Another first — her face and voice were overfilled with apology, like a soup with too much salt. “Charlie — I’m angry. Angry at Mike, for dying, because people our age ain’t supposed to die, not yet anyway. And I’m angry at Mike ‘cuz of what his dying has done to you. How you’re stuck in this funk of yours, and can’t figger out how to get yourself out.”
She leaned forward, her face nearly touching his. “I got the same problem, only a little different. I can’t make myself stop being angry, just like you can’t stop being sad. We both need help, Charlie — and the thing is, I think I know something you can do, to help us both.”
He stared into her eyes. “What’s that?”
She sat back into her kneeling position next to Charlie’s chair, and smiled. “You can tell me one of Mike’s stories.”