Did she have a will?
I don't know, Arthur said. She liked grapefruit and coffee together for breakfast.
Did she want to be buried or cremated?
I don't know, he said.
She wore his old concert T-shirts to bed and sang him lullabies as Axl Rose (Good night to the jungle, baby!) and Mick Jagger (Hey! You! Get into my bed!).
All gone, he said. Just me. Just her and me.
What would you like to do with the body?
Max took him homeMax took him home and got him into bed and Arthur was pretty sure Max held his hand for a while and kissed him on the forehead and then Max left .
Harryhausen made the horrible noise again. Arthur had never heard him cry before. Complain and hiss, sure, but this was completely different. This was deep and wild; it sounded like he was scraping it from the bottom of his tiny cat lungs. Like it was tearing his throat open.
Arthur sat on the carpet and stretched his legs out in front of him, in the hall, in the dark, and dripped cold water out of his hair and down his bare chest and tried to swallow but he didn't have any spit. He ached.
He lurched forward and his body tried to vomit but there was nothing in his stomach. Harryhausen jumped to his feet, hissing, and padded away, enormous fuzzy gut swaying from side to side.
Arthur didn't know anything. He didn't know if Amy wanted to rest in the ground or flame out into a million tiny particles. He didn't know if she'd made a will, or if there was an object, a memory, she wanted carried on by someone else in her name.
He didn't know and he was never going to.
He had to be dreaming. None of this was even remotely possible. He was thirty-two. Amy was thirty-one. They were young and full of blood. Their bodies and their minds were still their own to control. He couldn't imagine Amyher body, Amy's bodylit with electricity. Had she flown? Had she fallen? Had she looked like she was dancing?
She liked to dance.
Of course Amy hadn't made out a will, it was too soon but he didn't know that, not for certain. And just because she might not have officially left a will didn't mean Amy didn't want certain things done or said or given after her death. Just because Arthur didn't know what Amy wanted him to do with her body didn't mean Amy didn't know.
Why hadn't she told him?
Why hadn't he asked?
What else didn't he know?
What else hadn't hethe Noticer, the Watcher, the Good Seer of so many strangersnot known about his wife? What had he missed? What could he still see, if he looked hard enough?
He pressed his back against the wall for leverage and slowly, gently, pressed himself up from the floor. He blinked back stars. He could do thisif he, Arthur Rook, could see anything, he could see his wife. It didn't matter that she wasn't here. He could see.
He started in the bedroom. He looked through her dresser and saw her yellow- and-black striped socks, her grandfather's enormous green sweater, the blue lace bra she wore on their third anniversary that made her pale skin glow. He smelled Amy all around, but he didn't see anything he didn't know. He looked under the bed and saw her purple bowling shoes, also the white open-toed pumps she named Marilyn (left) and Norma Jean (right). He looked in the bathroom, in the broken medicine cabinet and the hamper. He tossed razor blades she would never use and unopened tubes of toothpaste and dirty clothes on the floor, and still he didn't see anything. Arthur was slowly drying from his shower but he was cold, only wearing a towel, and shaking so viciously his teeth chattered in his skull. He ran to the kitchen and looked in every cabinet and in the refrigerator, and all he saw were the plates they had bought together, the cups and the bowls they'd eaten ice cream and cereal and hot soup from. An unfinished gallon of milk, left over Thai take-out, half a grapefruit swaddled in plastic wrap that she'd been saving for breakfast tomorrow. Arthur saw all these things but he did not see Amyonly trace evidence of what she'd worn, what she'd eaten, what her body had done.
Excerpted from This Must Be the Place by Kate Racculia. Copyright © 2010 by Kate Racculia. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
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