I wonder about madness. What it is, where it comes from. Does it arrive from nowhere? Or is it the sticky residue of blind pride? The utter conviction, the unwillingness to deviate from a self-destructive course? How was I any different from him? I was going to find his hidden jug and damn the consequences. Maybe it would turn me into him, and maybe I would come to better understand his malignant heart. His liquor might calm my squirming nerves, turn them into something stronger, like courage, or a rancid sort of pride… or madness. But if I was wrong, and there was nothing more than this parameter of floor, then I would be stuck here until Del showed up. And then I would be in debt to him, a debtor’s prison I would have to claw my way out of, again.
“Lay down with me here in the grass, Charlotte,” said Jeremiah. The damned fool didn’t know he was still standing. “Have a drink with me and watch the clouds.”
“You know I don’t drink,” I said.
I crawled like a broken-backed bug towards the furthest corner of the cellar. My fingers were wet, and my nails, though short, were now misshapen claws.
“Just a pull or two, darlin’. It won’t kill you.” His voice was dark, heavy with threat and resentment.
“I’ll lay down with you, but I have too much to do to idle away the hours and wait for you to pass out.”
He grabbed me by the wrist and yanked me to the ground. “You’ll lay down with me if I say so. You would still be in that hole you lived in had I not brought you here and given you everything.”
This is everything.
“I’ll lay down with you,” I said quietly.
“Good girl. Just for a while. I want to enjoy the day. It’s too fine a day not to enjoy Spring wearing her full skirts.”
Eventually, we both got bored with the clouds.