She thought she began to feel hunger, but with the pains inside her it was hard to tell.
She tried to imagine what was going on back at the cabin. Perhaps they were just starting to notice that she was still gone. Perhaps Patrick was glad. Perhaps Patrick and Caitlin were out in the woods, having the assignation Abby had imagined for Patrick and herself. Perhaps Caitlin was against a tree with her hands in his hair. Perhaps the leaves were falling thickly around them, creating a lush crunchy bed among the moss and the low brush.
Abby grabbed in the air and scraped her palm with her fingernails as she tore the brown leaf to bits.
* * *
A while ago, it started becoming easy. David was the easiest.
She met him at a trade show. He wrote for the newspaper—the local beat, mostly. Respectable. He had blonde curly hair but dark eyes. She liked the uniqueness.
Nothing went wrong. There were no challenges, there was no awkwardness. From the first date, it was easy to imagine him as a boyfriend. He was sweet and thoughtful and he could talk about things.
It was very easy. Questions at family gatherings…so easy. Getting out on the weekends…easy. Valentine’s Day…oh, God, finally, finally that holiday would be easy!
One morning in August she woke up and realized that her identity was beginning to merge with David’s, was bleeding into his. She considered her new familiarity with Worcester and the news room and Irish music, and those bits of identity felt foreign—injected into her like his semen. She felt nauseous.
* * *
She wondered who was thinking about her. Caitlin? Glad she was gone, trying not to look at the clock, to remember how long Abby had been away, wouldn’t want to jinx it. Patrick might have a thought for her, while Caitlin’s hand was on his knee.