“I can’t believe you.”
Ben’s head jerked off the table and he nearly fell off his stool. Light was streaming in the workshop windows and he had an index card adhered to his face with spit. Brushing it off, he turned to confront his wife.
“This!” She gestured at the wall covered in paper, the note cards piled on his workbench. “I thought you were going to get rid of it. I thought you were supporting me, us.”
Ben scrambled to wake up enough to defend his project, cursing himself for falling asleep at the desk before covering up his work. “I am. This is the only way to find our son. No one else is doing any work. I have to!”
“No, you’re obsessing. And I can’t be healthy here if you keep this up. The last time I asked if you had thrown this all out, you told me you had, and I believed you. If you’re lying to me about this…”
Ben approached her with his arms out. “Jeannie.”
“No, Ben.” She backed away until she was in the doorway again. “Not—I can’t.”
“You haven’t let me even hold you for months! All you do is sleep in Benny’s room, and I can’t even put a hand on your shoulder. You call that being healthy?”
“I’m healing, and you’re not helping, not with this—this idiocy!”
Neither of them said anything for a moment. Ben’s hands clenched and unclenched in frustration. He didn’t know how to make his wife see that what he was doing was for them, for their family. How could she not see that? He was so caught up in trying to figure out a way to get her to understand that he missed the next thing she said.
Jeannie repeated herself, stronger this time. “I want you to leave.”
“But, Jeannie, please.” He moved toward her but stopped when she took another step away and shook her head.
“No. This is bad. It’s bad for you, and it’s bad for me. Hopefully this will make you see that.” She sounded like she was trying to convince herself more than anyone else.
“Where am I supposed to go?” Ben couldn’t think, couldn’t process this.
“I don’t know. But I want you to find someplace else.” She paused. “I don’t want to see you around the store, either. It’ll be too difficult.”
He slammed his hand onto the metal desk and she jumped. “Dammit, Jeannie! Not only do I need to find someplace to live, I need to find work, too!”
She flinched but stood firm. “You can have some of our savings to hold you over.”
“Fat lot of help that is.” All he was trying to do was find their son. She couldn’t see that. She didn’t understand. She didn’t want to understand. He knew it was because she blamed him, even if she wouldn’t admit it.
“Ben, I’m sorry, but it’s the only way—”
“It’s the only way for you to put your head so far in the sand it hits bedrock. I get it. I’ll be gone by this afternoon.” He turned to his web of information and started carefully dismantling it, making sure each piece of paper and pin was carefully stowed.