Boundless Page 89


“Look at me, look at me,” Web shouts from Midas’s back, as Tucker leads him around the pasture.

From the porch, where I’m sitting with Angela drinking lemonade, I raise my hand and wave. Every time I see him he’s like a foot taller, that kid, although he’s small for a nine-year-old, always talking your ear off (he takes after his mother that way), always grinning up at you with mischievous golden eyes from underneath his mop of unruly blue-black hair. As we watch, he gives Midas a little kick to get him to go faster, and Tucker has to jog along beside them to keep up.

“You be careful out there!” Angela calls, more to Tucker than to her son.

Tucker nods, rolls his eyes, pats Midas on the neck, and slows him down. As if falling off a horse would do anything besides startle that indestructible little boy.

“You’re kind of a helicopter parent, you know that?” I tease.

She scoffs and lifts her arms above her head in a stretch. If I look hard I can see the faint markings on her right arm, only a few left now. The tattoos started to fade the moment she held Web in her arms again—like his love is washing her clean, she always says.

Still, I wonder if the words will ever completely go away.

“I think I’m more an attachment-style parent,” she argues.

“Of course you are.”

In a few hours the whole loud bunch of us will be gathered around the Averys’ big table in the farmhouse for supper: Tucker’s parents, Wendy and Dan and little Gracie, Angela and Web up from the Windy City, and, if I play my cards right, Jeffrey. We’ll all eat and laugh and talk about the news and everybody’s jobs, and I’ll almost certainly take some flack, mostly from Angela, for going to Stanford to get my fancy medical degree fully intending to wind back up here as a plain old family doctor. I’ll joke about the fine weather in Wyoming and how I couldn’t bear to leave. Tucker will squeeze my knee under the table. And I will get a brief sense of togetherness, of everything being how it should be, but I’ll also feel an absence, like there’s an empty chair at the table. At that point the topic of conversation will inevitably turn to Christian, as if me thinking about him makes everyone think about him, and Angela will tell us about the buildings he’s working on and Web will gush about the last adventure the two of them went on together: to the Lincoln Park Zoo or the Chicago Children’s Museum or the observatory on the ninety-fourth floor of the John Hancock Center. And then the conversation will move on to other things, and I’ll feel normal again. I’ll feel right.

Angela’s still talking about parenting styles, something called Love and Logic. She offers to loan me her books about it, and I smile and say I’ll take a look at them. I set my lemonade down and stand up, step off the porch to walk toward the pasture, passing through the shadow of the big red barn, the sky overhead empty and blue.

“Look at me, look at me, Clara,” Web says again when he spots me. After dinner I’ll take him flying, I think, if Angela will let me. The sound of him giggling as Tucker guides the horse along the fence makes me smile. I take a moment to admire the view of Tucker from the back, the way he walks with a kind of funny cowboy grace, the fit of his jeans.

“I see you! Hi there, handsome,” I say to Tucker.

He leans over the fence to kiss me, taking my face between his hands, the plain gold band on his finger cool against my cheek. Then he steps back and drops his head for a minute, his eyes closed in a way I’ve come to be familiar with over the years. I put my hand on his shoulder.

“You okay? Another vision?” I ask.

He glances up at me, grins. “Yes, I’m having a vision,” he says with a laugh in his voice. “I’m having a vision that I just know is going to come true.”

“And what’s that?” I ask him.

“We’re going to be happy, Carrots,” he says, tucking a strand of my flyaway hair behind my ear. “That’s all.”