I now bring you the finale to my story, Good Lies. It started here, with part 2 here. Onto part 3. I've altered it slightly and left out episodes before I met Joseph. If anyone would like the full 5-page story, feel free to message me here or at Rawknrobyn@aol.com. I'll be happy to forward.
Please be good to yourselves, and stay safe.
In case of emergency: Keep faith and a stash of chocolate.
I studied my laptop screen, finding and recording numbers for the few
local emergency rooms. My tears moved faster than the rest of me. Damnit,
Joseph. I was supposed to save you. I can’t do that if you went and dropped
dead on me.
Four nervous hours passed before my phone rang.
Phew. His number. “Joseph?”
“Yeah, it’s me, Robyn. It wasn’t a heart attack. They said it was just anxiety.”
“Oh thank goodness, Joseph.”
“Yeah. Hey, you can call me Joey, by the way.”
“I was so worried about you, Joey.”
“Yeah I’m sorry.”
“No, don’t be sorry. I’m just so glad you’re okay. Where are you now?”
We proceeded to make plans for the next day.
I don’t remember our discourse as much as I do the sense of full-fledged genuine humanness. There were no layers of complication, no unspoken agendas, no shyness or bravado, no artificial pretenses or power-plays – just two human beings, being human together.
Practically speaking, I didn’t help much at all. In fact, Joey spoke competently to FEMA and DMV representatives. He could’ve gotten there on his own or with someone else. He’d still have to wait weeks for a new license plus word from FEMA.
“Someday, I’ve gotta write my story,” he shared en route back.
“That’s great. Writing’s my thing, Joey. I’ll help you with that.”
“Heck yeah. You can publish it for me.”
“I will.” I nodded. “I’m gonna publish your story.” (Note: If you’re reading this, I told the truth. If you’re not reading this, we’re both liars.)
“Perfect,” he grinned.
Back at the Fairgrounds, we stepped out of the car.
“Come over here so I can give you a hug,” he told me.
Joey and I exchanged a warm, grateful hug. “You keep fighting Robyn. I’ll never forget you.”
“Much better days are ahead, Joey. You’re very strong and brave. I’ll be cheering for you all the way.”
He nodded. “We’ll stay in touch.”
At that, Joey imparted a military style salute.
One year since the Camp Fire, sadness and trauma feel as fresh and surreal as ever.
I didn’t save lives.
I’ve luxuriated in safety and security. My path’s been cushioned in ways that I’ve routinely taken for granted.
Still, I did hold the world within view for one man who couldn’t see a thing. How I did that, I don’t know. I was simply a good enough person, who told some good enough lies.