The first time I left Eddie was to go away to school.
Eddie and I had never been in the same class at school. I went to pre-school at the Methodist Church; he went to Head Start. Then, in elementary school, we were always in different classes. LuLu picked up both up after and we spent the afternoons together, but we didn’t really see each other during the day. Likewise, in middle school, we operated in separate spheres. We did see each other more there — at breaks and at lunchtime — but our together time was always at Judith’s house.
After middle school — after eighth grade — it was decided (by Judith? by me?) that I would go to Birmingham to boarding school.
Now. It’s possible you have an image of ‘boarding school’ in your mind. I’d suggest you do your best to erase that image.
There are not many boarding schools to choose from in Alabama, and I went to the one that gets the best results when it comes to college admissions and wealthy alum.
The fact is, Judith wanted me out of the house and I was more than happy to get out of Lee. I don’t remember much discussion. I do know I didn’t put up any fight.
I also know I didn’t think about leaving Eddie. I only thought about me.
I don’t know if thinking about Eddie would have changed anything.
The next time I left Eddie was now. This time. I left him before I even saw him again.
I had spent November and then December at Judith’s.
I had sorted the paperwork. I had taken care of the legal stuff. I had seen to the will. (It was easy. She left everything to me. And it was a lot. I wasn’t surprised. It was all rather functional and transactional and, in Judith’s own way practical and organised. I had always just been another of her possessions — now all of her possessions were in one solitary group.) I had cleared all of Judith’s personal belongings from the house.
By January, I was alone in the house, in very small (and shrinking by the day) town in south Alabama. Surrounded by old furniture and death.
And I had another house — also full of old furniture and death — in Wales.
I decided to go back the to UK and figure out what I would do next.
It would be nice if I could say I reckoned Eddie would be in Lee and settled into his life as a parolee when I got back. But, I didn’t think about Eddie.
I only thought about me.