My day started out like any other day. Up at five to study, shower and eat. Then wake Sophie, and get her ready. Out the door by seven, drop Sophie off at school, and arrive at work by eight.
But today became so much more than any other day.
I walked into a storm of people at work. FBI, CIA, NSA, DIA. All the alphabet groups were in attendance. The phones were ringing so incessantly that between the noise of people and the noise of the phones, it sounded like the inside of a jet engine.
It was hard to make sense of what was going on. As an assistant, I am deliberately kept in the dark about what my team does with the raw data I roll into the conference room each day.
By 8:30, Will still hadn’t arrived. His cell phone kept going to voicemail. His team was looking for him. Given the level of activity, it was possible he’d been sent on location. I thought K.I. might know. Before I could ask, K.I. requested my help.
My job requires that I do not ask questions when given an order by a superior. Still, with everything that’s happened, I wasn’t sure what to think of K.I.’s strange demand.
K.I. would only tell me Will needed our “assistance” with his friend Katherine. I recognized the last name. Her husband had been a significant donor to the halfway house Sophie and I had stayed in before our move to New York. He died on Will’s birthday. His obit was in the paper the day we lost David.
At Katherine’s door, I repeated K.I.’s instructions in my head to drown out the nervous thumping of my heart. My mother always said a woman’s smile is her calling card, so I made sure to put on my sweetest one. I pretended all was normal and sane — not scary and out of control. When she closed the door I thought she wasn’t going to come with me, but she did, and my panic at least for that moment subsided.
After K.I. left us alone, Katherine and I were silent. We were both digesting all that K.I. had said about her husband. I remember his obit said he died of a heart attack. Is this what Will’s been doing? Investigating what drove this man to suicide?
Will’s plea that I go to Andy’s was an impossible choice. I was already watching Katherine. Now I had another task to accomplish. I could only succeed at one of them. I couldn’t bring Katherine with me, nor was I confident about leaving her alone. But my affection for Will got the better of my common sense, and I left with the hope that I could trust Katherine to stay put.
He was vague about Andy. I thought she was simply a colleague or a friend. I thought to myself “I would know if Will was dating someone.” I didn’t know about his clandestine investigation, so why did I fool myself that I would know if he was intimately involved with another woman?
“We just work together,” was all I could muster to Andy’s question if I was also Will’s lover. We just work together. On the outside, in reality, this is true. Yet it felt like a lie all the same.
When K.I. discovered me back at the office, his anger and disappointment overwhelmed me. I could barely speak. Will was so distracted he didn’t thank me or notice I was shaking after my confrontation with K.I.
Everyone’s world became smaller and more immediate after the explosion of the tanker in Galveston Bay. The tension from earlier was released. It was replaced by a sense of confusion and fear. The only one immune to this was Will. He seemed resigned to what had happened as though it was only an expected piece in the ever growing puzzle of his life.
My day ended as normally as it started. I picked Sophie up from her after school playgroup. I walked her home along the bustling streets of New York. I made her dinner, helped her with her homework, and tucked her safely in her bed.
But tonight I didn’t sleep alone. I stayed in Sophie’s room. She was my physical companion while the ghosts of the day’s events floated through my mind, keeping me from rest.