“How are you, sweety?”
They hugged and Catherine could feel her daughter shaking, then begin to sob. She stroked Josie’s hair, touched her forehead, leaned back to look into her eyes.
“It’s nothing, Mom, just a slight fever. The doctor said it’s normal, part of the detoxing.” She laughed, a dry sound. “My body’s telling me it’s unhappy, as if I didn’t know.”
“It’ll get better, darling. I promise.”
Josie nodded, pulled back. “I know. Everybody tells me that. I’ll get through it. It’s not like it’s the first time. And I’m pretty tough, you know?”
Catherine smiled. “Yes, I expect you are.”
They were in the hospital cafeteria where the ARC patients took their meals. Josie’s plate, pushed to the side, held scattered remnants of salad and chopped meat. She toyed with a melting scoop of ice cream, her spoon turning small circles in the bowl.
“He’s nice, your friend Colin. We had a talk. Did he tell you?”
Catherine shook her head, no. “Whatever the two of you had to say to each other is private. I promised him I wouldn’t ask.”
Josie shrugged. “Nothing very special; he asked me what I remembered, I told him. He wanted to know about Comfort, the thin one who brought me food. What he said tome. At first I couldn’t remember, then it started coming back...” She let the sentence trail.
“It’s not like we had a long relationship, Mom. I don’t remember Colin getting me out. What else were we supposed to talk about?”
Catherine didn’t answer for a moment, then said, “I thought maybe you knew him, maybe you’d seen him at a meeting or something.”
Josie nibbled at the ice cream, pushed it away, took another bite. “He’s your lover, isn’t he?”
Catherine stared at her daughter, closed her eyes, opened them again. Josie put the spoon down. “Don’t look like that. I’ve known about it for a long time.”
Josie picked up the bowl, deposited it carefully in the center of her dinner plate. “No, I mean, not specifically. I’ve just known that there had to be somebody. And it wasn’t Dad.”
Catherine looked down at the table, gathered her thoughts, blurted, “We’re getting divorced.”
Josie smiled. “Yeah? Cool.”