Ratings/Warnings/Happy Thoughts: The title gets explained.
Ennis began t'show signs. He remembered little things with a greater ease, like his birthday and where he grew up and all three a his siblings, his mother's maiden name an, much t'Alma's relief, how he'd met his wife.
Junior did not.
She was sent home with a hospital bed an a wheelchair. Jack, sensin opportunity, offered t'take Ennis home first while he was still loopy on the pain killers t'make the transition easier. No father needs t'see his baby broken like that little girl was. Alma willingly agreed, an he felt himself get stabbed somewhere south a his conscience an maybe his belt at the knowledge a why he was bein so kind.
I jus' want a few moments with him alone... t'see what he remembers.
That explanation did him jus' fine, an pushed the other crowdin thoughts outta his head 'fore they had a chance t'correct him.
The truck rumbled slowly, Ennis givin directions. Swore he knew his way home an everyone was willin t'believe him on account a all his sudden improvements. But his improvements didn't lend themselves t'Jack... not that Jack thought.
"Take a right up here on this road."
"You 'member the name a it?" He pushed, knowin he had to in order t'help Ennis come 'round. The man was silent, but he allowed it an made the turn.
"You don't 'member me much, do you?"
Ennis breathed hard, but gave no answer.
"We wrangled woolies on Brokeback... I could take you back there... on a fishin trip we was plannin. D'you remember that?"
Nothing, jus' hard, focused breathin.
"Ennis, I cain't lie t'you, but you gotta know 'bout what we are... we're.."
"STOP!" Ennis roared, shockin Jack so bad he stomped on the gas first, then the brakes, his truck screechin to a halt that probably killed the tires.
Ennis sat motionless for a moment. Shit, I done pushed too hard... he DOES remember, an I was right all along... somethin HAD changed... or worse, maybe nothin had at all.
Shakin, Ennis unbuckled his seatbelt an stepped cautiously outta the truck.
"Ennis? Ennis, where you goin?"
He didn't answer, but walked into the open field... An open field with one mangled tree. The only tree in the whole goddamned field. Jack thrust his seatbelt aside an made t'follow this man, wonderin, wonderin...
"This is it," he said quietly, touchin the bark apologetically, reverently. "This here's the... the tree."
"Do you remember?"
"This is the tree," he said again. "There was ice here," he stormed angrily towards the road, the same road where he'd slipped outta control, nearly killin his own family...
He felt t'his knees an gagged. His head was swimmin somethin horrible an he wished t'god he hadn't taken that oxycontin or whatever they were givin him for pain as if the shit were candy. He wanted so badly t'puke but couldn't... Tears wanted t'spill out but it seemed on top of everythin, he'd forgotten how t'cry.
His breath shook, whole body convulsin in a fit a blind rage a fate... a fate that may not let his daughter walk again. A fate that almost made him forget her entirely...
Jack, not knowin anything more reasonable t'do, knelt beside Ennis on the winter wet asphalt, steadyin him by the shoulders so he wouldn't fall over, murmurin Ennis' name over an over again.
"She ain't... gonna walk 'cause a this damned tree... an me... An you sonsabitches don't think I know it..."
"I know you know it..."
"This is my fault."
"No! Christ, Ennis, don't you dare say that shit!"
An suddenly he did cry; his body remembered how as hot, salty tears slid down his cheeks an fell t'the pavement. Jack stayed there, holdin him steady again 'til they finally, finally stopped.
"M'okay," he choked. "M'okay."
Jack didn't move t'let him go; couldn't.
Ennis was holdin him back.
"You really should stay at least one night, Jack," Alma said in her motherly way. "I don't want you travelin home in this fog, you'll get lost or worse... cain't see but two feet in front a ya."
"I really couldn't be a bother, m'am."
Ennis couldn't explain the sinkin feelin in his chest at the idea that Jack wouldn't be stayin. Had kinda been hopin for that fishin trip t'Brokeback... Brokeback, was that it? Memories tickled his brain an danced jus' outta reach.
"Don't be silly, we'll pull out the bed from the sofa, you can stay here." She smiled. "I insist."
"If you insist... Best call m'wife, she'll worry."
The sinkin feelin got worse. He was scratchin at his mind t'remember this man, this married man... had he even been there t'see him off?
Don't be so goddamned sappy. Like he needed you there in the first place.
"I'll, uh... get a few blankets," he offered. "Gets cold out there."
"Thanks," Jack replied more with his piercin blue eyes that somehow were still more warm than cool, an Ennis felt a sudden need t'turn away.
"Wheeee!" Junior shouted, wheelin herself down the hall in her new chair, nearly knockin her father offa his feet. Alma was worried that she'd grow t'resent that chair, but as for Ennis, he was just grateful she was enjoyin it for now.
"Watch where you're goin with that, Junior, it ain't a toy," Alma chided, an smiled apologetically at her husband.
But her husband was more preoccupied at stretchin his memory t'encompass Jack Twist.
Long after everyone's goodnights had been said, Ennis lay awake in his bed, thinkin.
He remembered his mother most of all as he looked outta his bedroom window. The moon was round an low, hangin by a thread in the sky.
A paper thin moon, he smiled t'himself.
"See the moon, Ennis?" June Del Mar held her youngest and favorite child on her hip, pointin up at the sky. "It's a paper thin moon."
She laughed. "Paper thin. It looks like it ain't there at all."
"What's it mean?"
"I'm not sure," she replied, repositionin him on her side so he wouldn't fall. "But my momma told it to me. She had a dream about a moon made a paper an she could fly t'the moon. She drew the craters on it."
Ennis bit his thumb.
"I ain't much of a story teller, am I?" She smiled. "But when you look at that moon, it looks like it's so small, but it's not. It's so big. It's so big that it looks at half the world all the time... And I'll bet the love a your life is lookin at this same moon right now."
Ennis scowled an looked over at Alma, hopin she hadn't fallen asleep, eve though he knew she had long ago.
He got up with some effort an stepped onto the cool wood floor, searchin for a mismatched pair a socks an slid 'em on t'combat the cold. He shuffled out t'the kitchen, hopin for somethin t'steady his nerves, even if the doctors had advised him against drinkin while usin these particular pills.
He slipped past the livin room... or would a, if there weren't a faint light glowin from a flashlight, Jack readin over a huntin manual for his inability t'sleep.
"Uh... sorry, I didn't mean t'..."
Jack whipped 'round silently, then smiled. "I ain't been t'sleep yet, don't go worryin on me."
"Was gonna get a whiskey, you want one?"
He closed his manual. "Sounds good."
They sat at the table, one facin the other, unsure a what t'say. Jack didn't wanna push anythin Ennis weren't ready for, still shocked from gettin hollered at on the drive home.
"You married, then?" Ennis finally asked, wishin he could take it back. Goddamned doctors were right, you shouldn't be drinkin while on these pills.
Jack leaned back, then forward, fixin Ennis with a straight gaze. "Yeah... Yeah, I'm married... miserable, but married."
"Me, too," he murmured 'fore he could think on it or take it back. Damned near dumped all a his drink into the sink.
"You an Alma got problems?"
He sighed. "I love her, but... I ain't... somethin ain't there."
"Yeah." Jack faltered, then opened his mouth. "Somethin's missin for me, too... with Lureen."
"That your wife?"
"Nice.. . Uh, real nice."
"What hurts the most is I know what's missin, an I cain't have it, no way, no how. Sometimes I wish I didn't know so I couldn't... couldn't face the thing I want... jus' let it be some nameless whisper. I wish I didn't know."
What's missin? He wanted t'ask it so bad, 'cause he wondered if he was missin the same thing... An how do I find it?
"I... I ain't one t'say," Jack shook his head, an Ennis realized he really had said it out loud. "I didn't come here t'make this any harder on you."
"Think it's better you're here," an his jaw fell open at his own words... but in that moment, he knew he'd never spoken no words truer'n those.
"Well... was hopin."
"You, uh... you still up for that fishin trip?"