He squeezed her hand. “I’m sure we will,” he offered without really knowing how or if they ever would. “I’m sure we will”, he repeated more to assure himself than her.
Jeannette rose from the table. “I best get going before it gets too late. I’ll come by tomorrow to help you look some more.”
Inasmuch as he didn’t feel like being alone, Casey stood up. “Thank you for all your help and for the great meals. I enjoyed them and your company. I’ll walk you out.”
At the gate, Jeannette stopped and turned to face him. “I enjoyed your company as well.” She stood on tiptoes and kissed his cheek. “Good night Casey.”
Casey touched his cheek where she had kissed him. “Good night Jeannette.” He watched her walk away until she disappeared into the darkness. Before going back into the house, Casey looked around and tried to think of something he might have missed. Nothing in particular came to mind. He sighed heavily, went into the house and flopped down on the couch. Before long, he drifted off to sleep.
The next morning Casey was awakened by the smell of coffee brewing and bacon frying in the pan. He sat up to see Jeannette busy making breakfast. “Smells good,” he said.
Jeannette turned sharply. “Oh you’re up. I wasn’t going to wake you till breakfast was ready.”
Casey stood up. “It’s okay. I’m going to take a shower.”
“It’s almost ready,” Jeannette said.
“I’ll make it quick.”
Casey wanted the shower more to clear his head than anything else. He had hoped that when he had gone to sleep he would awaken at his home and all would be just a bad dream. Seeing Jeannette shattered that hope. Not that she was a bad person but she was a reminder of a life he didn’t know.
As soon as breakfast was over, he helped Jeannette with the dishes and they set about to search the rooms they hadn’t gotten to the night before. It was in the second room that Jeannette noticed the edge of a photograph sticking out from under a board. Unable to pull it out she called out to Casey. “I’ve found something!”
Casey ran to her. He too was unsuccessful freeing the picture from its imprisonment. He ran downstairs and hunted for something to wedge between the boards. He managed to find a hammer and a screwdriver and ran back upstairs. Five minutes later they were looking at a photo of the house as he had known it. His wide smile told Jeannette they had struck gold.
“Can you duplicate it?” she asked while choking back the tears beginning to well in her eyes. Conflicting emotions raced through her. On the one hand she was happy for him because he would be returned home. On the other hand, she didn’t want to lose him, especially because she wasn’t sure if the Casey she had known would return to her. She suddenly felt faint.
Casey looked up from the photo just in time to see Jeannette falling and leaped to catch her. He carried her to the bed. “Jeannette. Jeannette wake up. Jeannette can you hear me?”
Jeannette’s eyelids fluttered then opened. It took a moment before she oriented herself. “Casey?” she murmured, “Is it you?”
Casey looked down at her recognizing she was referring to the Casey she knew. “No,” he answered. “I’m the Casey you’re helping.”
She closed her eyes for a moment and when she opened them, she nodded.
Casey helped her up when she felt strong enough to stand and they proceeded to the studio where he compared the photo to his painting. At first, he didn’t notice anything different but upon closer examination, he spotted some small differences in the roof, around the windows and door, and the shading on some of the shingles.
He turned to face Jeannette. “I’m going to need you to help me. Are you up to it?”
“Yes,” she managed to say very softly. “What is it you want me to do?”
“I need you to look at this picture and tell me if you spot anything different from the painting.”
When she neared him, he pointed out the objects he had found and waited while she made her examination. So as not to put pressure on her, he busied himself with other things until she finished. She cleared her throat. “I didn’t see anything else.”
April 9, 2015