My next couple of posts will get us caught up to where I am now. Back in New York, the morning after I confronted Zulya, a crash in the kitchen woke me. Dante, still wearing sweatpants over pajamas, was looking at a shattered peanut butter jar on the floor. A plate next to him on the counter held a slice of bread heaped with a half cup of jam. “I broke the peanut butter,” he said when I came in.
“What are you doing?”
“It’s so early.” My watch read 5:57. “Why don’t you wait for Lucia?”
“I don’t want Lucia to take me to school this morning.”
“I’m going to see Daddy.”
Daddy. When I had put him to sleep the night before, I remembered suddenly, he had bombarded me with questions about subway stops. “Oh, honey. You can’t go see Daddy.”
“He said he would read some Treasure Island to me tonight. And you won’t let Daddy come here, so I have to go to his apartment.”
“Dante, come here.” He came, and I held him by the shoulders. “Listen, Dante, I know how much you love your Daddy and” — I had to breathe for a moment — “you will see him again, only not today. Not, maybe, for a little while.”
“I don’t know. Mommy has to figure out some things.” I hadn’t spoken of myself in the third person for years. “But everything will be okay. I promise.”
He didn’t answer, and I couldn’t find him inside his eyes. “I love you,” I said. “You know that.” And still he wouldn’t speak. “Dante?” I pulled him to me, but he held himself hard against me, refusing even to exhale.