THE WORLD (REVERSED)

"You're leaving?"

Molly strokes her brother's hand, and she's desperate to tell him that he should have expected this. But he's still laid up, still dosed up, and still injured. She doesn't quite have the temerity to tell him that she'd been fired over the phone or that she was exhausted being here, trying not to peer into her family's thoughts at every second.

What she says, voice gentle, is, "You know I can't stay. I have to go back home. I've got-- I've got things to take care of."

Mark sighs, like he had as a child, wanting to get an extra five minutes, an extra scoop of ice cream, one last time around the block. She sort of hates that this is what she remembers moth: doing the job that her mother and father should have done. Just like she knows that they're arguing around the corner, her father's thoughts whirling around money and the next paycheck and who's going to pay this bill? and her mother's still mostly static, only a thought or two of i can't believe, --talked about this.

Molly holds his hand tighter. "I gave you my number. I meant what I said."

He squeezes back.

(she does not see her parents before she leaves. she waits until their thoughts are distant, and their footsteps are quiet. she knows exactly what they each want of her and even entertaining it isn't something she's quite prepared for.)

The drive to the airport, Matthew is silent next to her. He white knuckles the wheel, and try as she might, she can't exactly stay out of his head. She runs through his thoughts, of the confusion at the vending machine, at the question he has, of him pushing things back, writing it down as just some weird coincidence.

Moilly doesn't do anything to dissuade him. It hadn't been the smartest thing to blurt that out; but this stupid power of hers (a power that she shared with Lainey, fuck, she was still trying to digest that properly, to not find another thing to obsess over) was so difficult to control. It seeped through every part of her life now, even when she didn't want it to.

She wants to say something, say anything that might put things to rest.

But she doesn't. Matthew and Mark were two different people, two different boys who needed different things from her.

Matthew wanted distance more than he wanted her to reach out to hold his hand.

So she turns up the radio, and listens to it as he drives her to the airport instead of drying to swallow more and more of his thoughts.

By the time he parks, the car rolls to a stop, and the sound of planes overtake. The sound comforts her, the sound of take off and landing, people coming and going. Unwillingly, thoughts of Madelyne bobble up in her head: she used to be a pilot.

Her stomach lurches uncomfortably; thinking about her other, her double was still disturbing. It had only been once, and the memory gaps had never filled. Right on time, Matthew interrupts to say, "I hope you keep your word about what you said to him."

She looks at him from the corner of her eyes and smiles as charmingly as she can. "I will. I'll even call you if you want me to."

She doesn't have to be a mind reader to know that he doesn't buy it.

It doesn't stop her from giving him a hug when they get to the curb, nor does it prevent her from watching until his car disappears on the horizon. She takes a breath, once, twice, and when she steps inside the airport, she lets it fall off of her shoulders.

To her credit, when she gets home, the first person she texts is Mark. And the last thing she thinks about, curled up in bed, is, Don't fuck this up too.

There's no vote of confidence and no assurance. But it's the effort that counts. At least, it's what she tells herself every time she remembers to text her brother, even when the response doesn't come fast enough, even if what they talk about is never as intense as she'd like it to be.

It's a tentative start.