“What the hell happened back there Kepa?” asked Maite once they were back at Javi’s place and in their bedroom. Kepa was finishing brushing his teeth while Maite lay in bed, propped up on the pillows.
Kepa shrugged and gave her a thin smile. “That bang from the car took me back. It felt like Donny’s bullet had hit my chest again. I couldn’t help it.”
Maite shook her head. “How are we going to live with this? With all of it?” she asked. “We’ve only been out there twice, and we’ve already seen Blas get fried and you get shot. How much can we take?”
“I don’t know,” replied Kepa as he crawled into the bed. He turned onto his side and looked up at Maite. “I didn’t think it would hit me so hard, no pun intended. But, it has.”
“You got shot, Kepa,” said Maite as she tried to keep her voice level. “You essentially died. We don’t know what kind of trauma that causes, not just to your body, but more importantly your mind. Unlike Blas, you remember what happened, you remember that bullet piercing your chest, your heart exploding. And yet, here you are, dancing and drinking like nothing happened. Your mind is having a hard time processing things.”
Kepa pulled himself up so that he too was propped on his pillows. “What do I do, then?” he asked, half pleadingly, half accusingly. “You’re the smart one, how do I fix this?”
Maite sighed. “I don’t know, Kepa. Ez dakit. We have to be more careful, minimize these traumatic episodes. We can’t be so reckless. Otherwise, our minds will crack and we’ll be useless.” She looked over at Kepa. “Or worse, we’ll lash out at one another.”
Kepa nodded. “I’m sorry. At the time, it seemed so heroic, so noble to take that bullet, knowing I would just come back when the bubble popped. I didn’t think beyond that.”
Maite reached over and grabbed Kepa’s hand, giving it a squeeze. “We’re in this together, and we’ll figure it out, together.”
Kepa smiled. “Together,” he said as he pulled Maite over, his lips finding hers.
In the morning, they found Javi and Julie in the kitchen, breakfast nearly finished.
“I hope you like bacon and eggs,” said Javi. “It’s a bit hardier than what you usually get in the Basque Country but, well, this isn’t the Basque Country. Julie’s already got the coffee ready.”
Kepa smiled as he took a cup from Julie. “Mil esker,” he said. Turning to Javi, he added “And bacon and eggs sounds great. I have to admit, I like the big American breakfasts.”
“Well, and you need to keep up your strength if you are going to the Grand Canyon,” added Javi.
“About that,” began Maite. “We’ve decided to skip that part of our trip. We’d rather just hang out here, if you don’t mind.”
“And miss the Grand Canyon?” asked Javi in bewilderment. “It’s one of the most awesome things in the world.”
“Have you been there?” asked Kepa.
“Well, no…” began Javi.
“I have,” interjected Julie, “and it is awesome!”
“We tried to cram too much into this trip. And, I think we just want some down time after everything,” said Maite.
“I guess your interview was pretty rough,” said Javi as he dished the bacon and eggs onto four plates.
“It took more out of me than I expected, that’s for sure,” answered Maite as she sat down.
“You are more than welcome to stay here,” said Javi. “I can’t take much more time off of work, though, but if you are comfortable having the place to yourselves, while I’m at work, you are welcome to it.”
“Mil esker, cousin,” said Kepa.
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