She takes his good kind smart face in her hands and smiles. Honesty, with Mia. Say it all at once and nobody can stand between you and it. She can force him back on his road with the power of her words, as long as she tells him the entire truth.
"You are a good, kind, smart smart man. Who has deceptively soft lips. But Todd."
His sorrowful eyes, begging her to make sense of him. Of the idea that she is standing here and one day she won't be; that she'll be his first and something will die inside him, right alongside her. And Amanda Montgomery will be gone forever, and nobody will have ever known her. And the next woman won't be Cathy Jamison but she'll be something special, and kind, and exactly unique. The next woman, there will be no one like her, in all the world: Not before, not after. Not living or dead. The next woman, after Cathy's gone, will contain all the secrets and all the faults that make Cathy special. And he'll care for her a little less.
He needs another story. This is the story that he knows: When you want to help someone so much that it hurts, that you can feel the walls of your body pushing you back from the place where she is, feel it trapping you, fencing you in, keeping you separate from her, unable to save her as she's going, that can feel like love. That can feel exactly like love, because that is what love is. But the cards are already laid down.
"You have to pick the girl that lives," Cathy says.
It's just a story, a parable like the banana bread, to tell him truths he can't hear yet and she's not strong enough to say. But it does the trick. Everything that rises.
Paul ransacks Marlene's house, screaming at her. Tearing down the walls to find her gun. "I've got Alzheimer's" she spits, Thomas the Dog tight against her on the couch, "I don't remember where I put my keys have the time."
"Then you know what? You shouldn't have a goddamned gun!"
She's ashamed, and scared. Betrayed. She's never liked Paul quite as much as she does now. She thinks about Adam, somebody coming to hurt Adam, threatening him, and it makes her so sad and sick she shakes. But the person who did that was her.
She promises to give Paul the gun, when she finds it, and he tells her one more time to stay away from his child. He slams the door, and Marlene weeps. Alone.