A small peace filled me. Van forgave my unforgivable act. A pinpoint of optimism penetrated my inner darkness, and optimism which said life can go on.
“I called Search and Rescue,” I said with surprising calm.
“No, not yet.”
“And the broadcasts?”
“No,” I said. “I didn’t think of them.”
“Tulli, can you see where I dropped my satchel?”
“I do,” Tulli said. “Shall I bring it to you?”
“If you would.”
I heard the shuffle of Tulli’s feet walk toward the house. Van pressed his face into mine and said softly in my ear, “We’ll see if the broadcasts have any news.”
The broadcasts! Yes, why didn’t I think of that?
Because you weren’t in your right mind, Lin. You can’t even stand on two feet. You can’t think straight. You’re lucky that Van is here to do it for you.
Thus said the internal voice of my father, who manages to put himself in all my business, even though he lives a half a world away. I doused his appearance with hopeful thoughts — or were they just delusional thoughts, delusionary distractions, pain medication?
The broadcasts! I was inspired and energized by what Van might find in this vast information repository. Someone has seen the malmagni and reported it,… many by now, I’m sure. This is the kind of news that would not go ignored. Maybe someone has her now. Maybe there will be a report on Erin…. She’s alive, she’s alive, I know she is. And we’re going to find her.
Van had continued to whisper loving thoughts in my ear as we waited for Tulli to return. I heard none of them, so engaged was I in my inner story.
“Honey, what?” I finally asked Van.
“What were you saying?”
“All the parts.”
Van laughed and only said, “I love you, Lin.”
I beamed inside, filled with optimism, relief and genuine gratitude for my capable husband. “I love you, Van,” I said. “I love you so dearly.”
He stroked my hair with his hand and it was all I could do to contain my enthusiasm. Finding Erin felt imminent. Soon we would all be reunited and get back to being a family. The weight of a thousand boulders lifted from my heart. My baby’s coming home.
Tulli returned with Van’s satchel. “I assume you want the phone?”
“Yes, Tulli. In the side pouch. Will you get it for me?”
Tulli handed Van the holophone and put the satchel on the ground next to us. “My pleasure. I’m here to help in anyway you need me to.”
“Thank you Tulli,” I said, almost cheerfully.
Tulli’s eyes grew wide with surprise at my sudden transformation. “Glad to see you’re feeling a little better.”
“I am, Tulli, I am.” I squeezed Van’s knees with a celebratory anticipation.
He had already put his headpiece on. “Alright,” he said as he lifted his hand to beckon our silence.