Cathy offers her some tea and, after a worried look, asks Marlene if she recognizes her. That old sharpness returns. "Of course I do! I'm not stupid, I just have Alzheimer's."
When Adam found her, after the birthday party, he just thought she'd had too much to drink. All illness is endemic when you're young. He's seen them drinking but he's never seen anybody forget the world around them. He was being kind, he was protecting her, but not from her own body. He still has no idea, about that treachery. She's never looked so small.
"I wish that were my problem," Marlene jokes, and Cathy asks why she didn't tell.
"You're a fine one to talk, Miss Secret Cancerpants." It's nice to hear, like pressing on a bruise; she nods. "I just didn't see much point in telling people, anyway. It is what it is. There's nothing I can do about it."
Telling people sucks, that's why. Cathy apologizes, because that's what you do: The enormity doesn't allow for anything else. "So I lose a few memories here and there. I'm living in the moment, and that's what counts." She smiles, to give Cathy hope. More than she feels.
The wicker baskets from Pottery Barn she used to keep things in; well, bought to keep things in, that ended up being magazines and crafting projects she could never carry about. She stashed her bee-sting articles in there, like garbage. But maybe she was stealing hope. Paul's hope, her hope. Marlene looked under her chair and what did she find? Disorientation, terror, embarrassment. A flick of the wrist and she'd never have had Alzheimer's at all. But she lives for the moment. That's what counts. She digs them out again.
"I get why you didn't want to tell me," standing there like Braveheart. Less brave than before. More heart.
"Telling people sucks," he says, shoulders thrown back. Taller than he's ever been. "I also get why maybe you needed to kick me out so you could be alone for a while." The space. Cathy watching Cheryl watching Gary and loving Paul too much to watch him do the same. She smiles. It's about breathing.
"You and Lenny, I'm not quite clear on that one yet," Paul says, with a sad smile in his eyes and the memory of a distant handjob, "But you know, maybe someday." He smiles, smaller than he really feels, because for him forgiveness is better than that. Cathy smiles, to thank him, and she wonders what happens next. This strong man who seems so weak; this selfish man who's so unselfish. This man who did the work, in his own way, in his own time. Who learned to cross the street. Who needs no screaming at all. This man.
Adam appears, wearing the most sleeveless shirt he could find in his closet. He greets both his parents by name, spending as much time as he can explaining his plans for the day, turning in profile so they can see the flaming sword. Begging them not to disappoint. Cathy tells him its fine, and he turns slowly; without looking she says, "And make sure you wash that ridiculous thing off your arm, before you go." Adam is seen; he bounds from the house full of hope. He didn't notice Paul's suitcase -- and his sad sock drawer, from so long ago -- but Cathy did. "Are you home?"
He is. So is she.
Cathy's calmer, in Todd's doorway. "I won something last night," she says, but she knows she can't say what. "Let's just say it was something big, and leave it at that. But there were two hundred other sad, desperate women who could have won. Maybe more. It was dark, and loud. But the point is, I won. The odds were against me, and yet I was the lady who won."
She sits without knowing it. She starts to cry, without realizing. The enormity pushes her down, and out.
"And if something like that could happen, then maybe I could beat other odds too. So I'm gonna take a chance. And I'm gonna start with beesting therapy."