Gone for Good Page 48

“Forget that!” Katy shouted again. “I’m eighteen!”

“Right, whatever. Anyway, she asked me to call you instead. Hey, I remember when we were kids. We weren’t perfect either, you know what I mean?”

“I do,” I said.

And that was when Katy yelled something, and my body went rigid. I hoped that I’d heard wrong. But her words, and the almost mocking way she shouted them, worked like a cold hand pressed against the back of my neck.

“Idaho!” she yelled. “Am I right, Will? Idaho!”

I gripped the receiver, sure I heard wrong. “What is she saying?”

“I don’t know. She keeps yelling out something about Idaho, but she’s still pretty wasted.”

Katy again: “Friggin’ Idaho! Potato! Idaho! I’m right, aren’t I?”

My breath had gone shallow.

“Look, Will, I know it’s late, but can you come down and get her?”

I found my voice enough to say, “I’m on my way.”


Squares crept up the stairs rather than risk the noise from the elevator waking Wanda.

The Yoga Squared Corporation owned the building. He and Wanda lived on the two floors above the yoga studio. It was three in the morning. Squares slid open the door. The lights were out. He stepped into the room. The streetlights provided harsh slivers of illumination.

Wanda sat on the couch in the dark. Her arms and legs were crossed.

“Hey,” he said very softly, as if afraid of waking someone up, though there was no one else in the building.

“Do you want me to get rid of it?” she said.

Squares wished that he had kept his sunglasses on. “I’m really tired, Wanda. Just let me grab a few hours of sleep.”


“What do you want me to say here?”

“I’m still in the first trimester. All I’d have to do is swallow a pill. So I want to know. Do you want to get rid of it?”

“So all of a sudden it’s up to me?”

“I’m waiting.”

“I thought you were the great feminist, Wanda. What about a woman’s right to choose?”

“Don’t hand me that crap.”

Squares jammed his hands in his pockets. “What do you want to do?”

Wanda turned her head to the side. He could see the profile, the long neck, the proud bearing. He loved her. He had never loved anyone before, and no one had ever loved him either. When he was very small, his mother liked to burn him with her curling iron. She finally stopped when he was two years old—on the very day, coincidentally, that his father beat her to death and hung himself in a closet.

“You wear your past on your forehead,” Wanda said. “We don’t all have that luxury.”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

Neither of them had turned on the light. Their eyes were adjusting, but everything was a murky haze and maybe that made it easier.

Wanda said, “I was valedictorian of my high school class.”

“I know.”

She closed her eyes. “Let me just say this, okay?”

Squares nodded for her to proceed.

“I grew up in a wealthy suburb. There were very few black families. I was the only black girl in my class of three hundred. And I was ranked first. I had my pick of colleges. I chose Princeton.”

He knew all this already, but he said nothing.

“When I got there, I started to feel like I didn’t measure up. I won’t go into the whole diagnosis, about my lack of self-worth and all that. But I stopped eating. I lost weight. I became anorexic. I wouldn’t eat anything I couldn’t get rid of. I would do sit-ups all day. I dropped under ninety pounds and I would still look at myself in the mirror and hate the fatty who stared back at me.”

Squares moved closer to her. He wanted to take her hand. But idiot that he was, he did not.

“I starved myself to the point where I had to be hospitalized. I damaged my organs. My liver, my heart, the doctors still are not sure how much. I never went into cardiac arrest, but for a while, I think I was pretty close. I eventually recovered—I won’t go into that either—but the doctors told me that I’d probably never get pregnant. And if I did, I’d most likely not be able to carry to term.”

Squares stood over her. “And what does your doctor say now?” he asked.

“She makes no promises.” Wanda looked at him. “I’ve never been so scared in my life.”

He felt his heart crumble in his chest. He wanted to sit next to her and put his arms around her. But again something held him back and he hated himself for it. “If going through with this is a risk to your health—” he began.

“Then it’s my risk,” she said.

He tried to smile. “The great feminist returns.”

“When I said I was scared, I wasn’t just talking about my health.”

He knew that.



Her voice was nearly a plea. “Don’t shut me out, okay?”

He did not know what to say, so he settled for the obvious. “It’s a big step.”

“I know.”

“I don’t think,” he said slowly, “that I’m equipped to handle it.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“You’re the strongest man I’ve ever known.”

Squares shook his head. Some drunk on the street started scream-singing that love grows where his Rosemary goes and nobody knows but him. Wanda uncrossed her arms and waited.

“Maybe,” Squares began, “we shouldn’t go through with this. For the sake of your health, if nothing else.”

Wanda watched him step back and away. Before she could reply, he was gone.

I rented a car at a twenty-four-hour place on 37th Street and drove out to the Livingston police station. I had not been in these hallowed halls since the Burnet Hill Elementary School class trip when I was in first grade. On that sunny morning, we were not allowed to see the station’s holding cell where I now found Katy because, like tonight, someone had been in it. The idea of that—that maybe a big-time criminal was locked up just yards from where we stood—was about as cool an idea as a first-grader can wrap his brain around.

Detective Tim Daniels greeted me with too firm a handshake. I noticed that he hoisted his belt a lot. He jangled—or his keys or cuffs or whatever did—whenever he walked. His build was beefier than in his youth, but his face remained smooth and unblemished.

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