An Unscheduled Stop

by Constance Squires


Though I speak with the tongues of
men and of angels, and have not charity,
I am become as sounding brass, or a
tinkling cymbal.

— I Corinthians 13:1

Ever since Leanne Carter came back from Iraq, she didn’t like surprises. They made her jumpy. She preferred to stick to a plan, so it was unusual that she stopped at the World’s Largest McDonald’s. It wasn’t part of the moving-day plan, but she was so pissed off at Carol, her mother-in-law, that when she saw the glass restaurant arched over the Will Rogers Turnpike like a big yellow rainbow she had pulled in, just to move around, just to shake it off, to shake Carol, who was stuck to her like hot tar. Her last stop had only been half an hour earlier, outside Tulsa, but she had gotten so pissed off at Carol that Leanne had fled that particular truck stop in a huff, leaving Carol to think about what an annoying bitch she was.

She bundled baby Ivy up the stairwell to the sun-flooded restaurant, where she ordered fries and a big water and found a table by the east-facing window. The window was a wall of floor-to-ceiling steel-reinforced glass that looked down on four lanes of I-44 traffic. She dropped the diaperbag and her purse into the seat next to her and cradled baby Ivy’s head as she adjusted the infant harness. In a few minutes, she saw Carol’s blue Oldsmobile emerge from beneath the restaurant in the slow lane. Leanne was too high up to see Carol, but she imagined her at the wheel, singing along with her Tammy Wynette cassettes as she headed reluctantly towards Leanne’s newly rented apartment in Joplin, a U-Haul trailer full of Leanne’s stuff hitched to the back. “Fuck you, Carol,” she muttered. Surely the woman was driving below the legal limit. Surely she was. Carol wanted Leanne and Ivy to stay in southwest Oklahoma with her. They were her only family now. Her only family. If Leanne moved to Joplin and took baby Ivy with her, Carol would be alone in the world. Alone, alone. She said it again and again, but that was just too bad. Leanne wasn’t going to miss Fort Sill. She didn’t miss being in the Army, either, although what she was going to do now was anybody’s guess. Her sister did nails in Joplin and made more money than Leanne had ever made in the Army—she could do that for a while, buff and polish. She could use her GI Bill benefits and go to college. Maybe her family in Joplin would help with the baby. They hadn’t offered. In fact, getting away from them had been the main reason she enlisted in the first place, but maybe things would get better once she was on their doorstep.

Ivy woke up and began to cry, so Leanne draped her nursing cape over her shoulder and put the baby to her breast. As the pressure in her breasts released, her anger at Carol died down. She didn’t want to treat her mother-in-law badly. Carol, though, Carol asked a lot. Out the window, Leanne could still see the square ass of the U-Haul far ahead, could almost feel the sting of Carol’s hurt feelings and she began to relent a little.

* * *

Leanne could have rented a full-sized U-Haul truck and moved all by herself, hitched her car to the back. The idea of caravanning up I-44 from Fort Sill to Joplin had been nothing but a concession to Carol’s fears. She had seen a news piece about child trafficking along Oklahoma’s interstates and had gotten herself all freaked out about it. Plus it was hard traveling with a baby, so the idea was that Leanne might need help along the road. They would stick together. “You’ll see,” Carol said, “you’ll be glad to have me along. I’m a trained nurse, remember.” What a joke. Carol had been a nonstop problem since they left Fort Sill that morning. By the time Leanne heard her cell phone ringing on the east side of Tulsa, they had already stopped three times, once every fifty miles or so. For the fourth time that day, Leanne had grabbed the phone. “What?”

“Guess who-oo! Sorry to bother you again.” The vowels of Carol’s Okie accent stretched like hot asphalt. “But I do need to go.”

“To go?” Leanne grimaced. “Carol, we just stopped in Oklahoma City.”

“I know it, sugar, I know it.”

Stopping would wake Ivy, of course, who had just finished crying herself back to sleep from the stop Carol had had them make in Oklahoma City.

Leanne took the next exit and called Carol back to tell her where to find her. “Past the casino,” she said, “not before.” Parking in front of the truck stop to wait for her mother-in-law, she reached over the seat to take Ivy out of her car seat and bring her to the front to nurse, tossing the nursing cover over her shoulder. It looked like a superhero’s cape. The whole point of a nursing cape was to make nursing in public less noticeable, but the cover that Carol had bought her was bright yellow and dotted with cartoon cows. Really, it was ugly as sin, Carol’s way of showing her disapproval of the whole nursing issue.

Carol’s blue Oldsmobile had pulled into the spot next to Leanne, who watched as her mother-in-law pushed herself out of the car. She wavedat Leanne and pointed to her crotch then to the glass doors of the store entrance, her crotch, the glass doors, crotch, doors, until Leanne rolled down her window and shouted, “Got it!”

Once inside the truck stop, Carol took forever. When she came back, she was carrying a fountain drink the size of two human bladders, and a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. She bent down and picked up a penny from the greasy pavement. Holding it up for Leanne to see, she said, loudly enough for Leanne to hear, “Find a penny, pick it up and all the day you’ll have good luck!”

She let herself in to the passenger side, filling the car with the smell of rose-scented lotion and Doritos. “Let me see that sweet baby. I just need a fix.”

“Hang on, she’s nursing.”

“Oh, come on now, come on. She needs to see her Gram.”

The intensity of Carol’s love for the baby looked just like grief. Ivy had Billy’s eyes, Billy’s nose. According to Carol, she looked and acted just like her daddy at that age. It creeped Leanne out, watching Carol with Ivy. She never allowed herself to dwell on Carol’s grief; she couldn’t. It was too big to think about, and the empathy it would require wore Leanne out, even its prospect. After all, she had lost Billy, too. Her grief was its own dark, fathomless animal. But Billy hadn’t been her son. When she thought about Ivy, this human she had fashioned from her own blood and body, who somehow lived outside her body now, and put Billy in that mother-child equation with Carol, she shut down. Carol’s loss was an open hole to hell that seemed to glow from the center of her, a blinding, silent wound. Shutting it out felt like protecting Ivy. Leanne knew it wasn’t fair but she couldn’t help it. Feeling her own lack of sympathy made her feel mean towards Carol.

Carol reached across the seat and felt around under the nursing cover for the baby.

Through clenched teeth, Leanne said, “Take your hands off my tits.”

Carol kept feeling around for the baby’s head.

“Lordy, I’ll be glad when you’re done with this breast feeding business.”

“They say you should do it for a year, so that’s what I’m doing.”

“Who’s they?”

“Pretty much all the pediatricians in America.”

“It’s primitive. That formula, they got it to where it’s just as good.”

“Now, you tell me why should I spend money I don’t have to buy a cheap ripoff of something that’s coming out of my boobs for free?” They had had this conversation before. Leanne tried again to explain the benefits of breast feeding. The enzymes, the proteins. The mystery, the connection. “I’m lucky I’m not working now. I need to take advantage of the time—for Ivy’s sake.”

Carol turned the air-conditioner vents to her own sweating bulk. “Billy did just fine on formula. You’re not a damn cow.”

“Fuck you, Carol.”

Leanne hadn’t done many things right. She had dropped out of high school; she had some dumb tattoos: Linkin Park in curly scroll across her back and a tramp stamp of Harry Potter pointing his magic wand up out of the crack of her jeans. She went to Iraq thinking Osama bin Laden was there. She felt a little lost most of the time, felt like everybody else knew things she didn’t know. But with this baby, she knew. She knew what to do and how to do it for the first time in her life. So Carol, she could just fuck off. Fuck off, Carol. “I mean it.”

Carol’s jowls seemed to get longer as she pursed her lips and gave Leanne a good looking over. “Now, that was uncalled for.” She flung open the passenger side door. “You need help, Leanne. You just do. Look at you—you could be at home on my porch, taking it easy. You tell me what’s so bad about that.” As she climbed out of the car she closed her eyes in concentration and spike, the plea that Leanne had heard so often: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, give me strength.”

* * *

Two years earlier, when Leanne and Billy were both deployed to Iraq, Carol had become abruptly Pentecostal. She’d quit wearing makeup, quit coloring and cutting her hair. When they got back to Oklahoma, Billy had called her a Jesus Freak and acted like a 14-year-old boy forced to hold his mother’s hand anytime they went anywhere in public. Watching him tease Carol one night at El Chico, Leanne had realized he was an asshole like the asshole tweaker she had lived with after she dropped out of high school, before she joined the Army. Billy was cuter than that guy, but he was still an asshole. Carol, on the other hand, was kind of classy, the way she lifted her chin and held her purse a little tighter when Billy told her she looked like shit without makeup. Leanne and Billy’s enlistments were up at about the same time, and the plan was that they were going to start a family then, but Billy had gone and re–enlisted. When he went back to Iraq, Leanne occasionally went to church with Carol. Each time she was there, Leanne saw the same scenario played out again and again:

The Holy Ghost would come upon the congregation and the pews would begin to empty as people ran around the sanctuary in circles, dancing, babbling strange, consonant-filled gibberish. Once a woman flopped to the ground in the aisle next to the pew where Carol and Leanne sat, her dress high above her head, her hips jumping up and down. Leanne had struggled not to laugh, but the forlorn look on Carol’s face stopped her. Again and again, members of the congregation were struck, one by one, with the Holy Ghost, until no one but Carol and Leanne was left in their seats. Alone in the pews while everyone else threw themselves around and shouted, even Leanne felt a little left out. But Carol was a true believer, and the pressure nearly crushed her. She would open her hands above her head, as if pressing them against an invisible door in the air, one that was shut to her and open to everyone else in the congregation. “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” she would plead.

One time, she grabbed Leanne’s knee and said, “Jesus is coming down the aisle, can you feel him?”

Leanne had sat still and tried hard before she shook her head. “I don’t think so.”

All the energy left Carol’s body and she said, “Me, either.”

Night after night, Carol sat and opened herself to receive the Holy Spirit, but it never happened. “We all have different gifts,” she always said, rising from another service in which she, alone with Leanne, had failed to speak in tongues. “I just wish I could do it once. Just once. Why does he withhold from me but bless all these others? Why, that Jimanne Terrell, she’s as mean as a mule, but there she was up there again tonight, just a flopping. I must be wicked. I don’t feel wicked. I don’t understand.”

* * *

Sitting in the world’s biggest McDonald’s, Leanne took a long drink of water and smelled coffee. Oh, she missed coffee. Coffee and cigarettes and Red Bull and Coors Light. The day she weaned Ivy, she was going to make a caffeine/alcohol/nicotine cocktail and take it like medicine. From the corner of her eye she noticed three tall cups of coffee sitting at an adjacent table. They belonged to three people who, Leanne realized, were looking at her, studying her as they blew into the holes of their to-go lids. Ivy’s bare feet stuck out beneath the cape and Leanne instinctively cupped them in her hand.

“My land, that sure is a precious little one you got there.” One of the coffee drinkers, a hardlooking woman in 50’s or 60’s, was speaking to her. The woman had tiny features crowded into the center of a broad face, and blond hair feathered back from her lined forehead and sprayed stiffly in place. The two men with her Leanne took to be the woman’s sons, both in their 20’s, both thin and ubiquitously tattooed, even on their knuckles.

“Thank you.” She took a sip of water. Under the cape, she could feel Ivy sucking with steady purpose.

“Where’s your husband?” the woman asked.

“He’s—” she nearly said, “passed away,” but something about the way they were looking at her made her answer, “checking the oil. He’ll be up in a minute.”

“Boy or girl?” the woman asked, nodding at

Ivy’s outline under the cover.


“How old?”

“Eight months.”

“What’s her name?”


“That’s a pretty name. Unusual. What do you think, Bo?”

One of the men made a face to suggest the name was not his favorite. They were acting like customers at a car dealership. Kicking the tires. Leanne wished she were in uniform. She wished she were armed. She wished she didn’t look so harmless.

The woman’s vast cheeks stretched into a smile. “Sure would like to get a peek at her. She about done?”

Leanne pulled the purse and diaper bag over her shoulder, tightened the baby harness and stood up. “Excuse me.” She picked up her tray of uneaten fries and slid them into the trashcan. Under the cape, Ivy was still latched on. Walking through the restaurant with her boob out, she held down the bottom of the cape so it wouldn’t fly up as she headed for the eastbound stairway.

She ducked into the restroom and sat down in a stall, taking a deep breath and chiding herself for being paranoid. Carol and her scary stories had gotten to her. But this was America, after all, and it wasn’t illegal to be creepy. It didn’t automatically mean you were a sicko psycho freak. Lots of people were intense about babies; it was a kind of lust. They weren’t all child traffickers. Her eyes ranged over the graffiti in the stall, some etched into the metal and painted over, some scrawled in pen or magic marker. OU, and below that, SUCKS. A phone number. BURN IN HELL LESBO BITCHES. LC + SE 4Ever. ROCKLAHOMA 2010 and a peace sign. A plaintive line written in puffy juvenile scrawl: I don’t want to move to Wisconsin. Feeling Ivy’s tiny fist thumping against her collarbone, Leanne reached into her purse and pulled out a pen. BABY IVY WAS HERE, she wrote, and drew a little portrait of Ivy’s face. Then she pulled her phone out of her purse and looked at it. No calls from Carol. It had been almost an hour since they had seen each other—this was some kind of record. Maybe she was mad. Leanne dropped the phone into the diaper bag. She heard someone enter the restroom and stop in front of her stall.

“Sugar?” It was the flat-faced woman. “I saw you limping away with all that stuff. Why don’t you let me hold that baby till you get done in there? I remember what it’s like, believe you me.” Leanne stared at the door of the stall and clutched Ivy so tight that the baby let out a cry.

She heard herself answer in a singsong voice, “Thanks! You know what, though? I’m fine. Got it all under control.”

She heard the woman’s feet shuffle. “Are you sure? I miss the feel of a little one, you know. It would sure make my day.”

“No, but I do appreciate you. We’re doing fine.”

“Another time, then.” She heard the woman step into the stall next to her and close the door.

Adrenaline flooded Leanne’s system, jacked her up so high she felt like going after the woman, who was old and flabby. Leanne was 24 and combat trained. She had seen things this downhome evil hag could never imagine. Her hands trembled as fury shuddered down her veins. But what was she supposed to do with Ivy while she kicked this woman’s ass? Set her on the bathroom floor? Leave her on the counter and pray she didn’t roll off and bash her head in? It was impossible. As Leanne’s body ramped up, her mind flashed images. The thin card paper of a target filled with holes, the sticky squish of crabapples on the ground near her mother’s grave, the way the camouflage netting on the truck two cars up from her in Iraq had crimped and disappeared like lace when it caught fire. She thought of those outlaw families from earlier times, the way history sometimes made ignorant, violent sociopaths into folk heroes. In another time, this woman and her boys might have been famous. Ma Barker and the Barker Gang. Leanne might be about to have the privilege of having her baby stolen by the infamous so-and-sos. But it wasn’t the old days, and this wasn’t a saloon or a speakeasy. It was McDonald’s.

She stood up to leave. While she straightened her top, her cell phone rang. Carol’s ring. She plunged her hand into the diaper bag and came up with the phone tangled in a teething ring. While Leanne tried to separate it from the soft plastic contraption, she dropped the phone into the toilet. It made a loud splash.

From the next stall, she heard Ma Barker laugh. “Oh, that’s a shame,” she said.

* * *

Watching Carol in church, it had been easy for Leanne to see what the problem was. Carol was too honest. Not to say that every single one of the people carrying on in the aisles of the church was faking it, for what did Leanne know about stuff like that? Not much, and she had little stake in figuring it out. But they couldn’t ALL be speaking in tongues. At least a few of them had to be faking it, even if they didn’t quite know it themselves. Carol sat alone in the pews because it never occurred to her to pretend to speak in tongues. She was too earnest, and because she herself would never dream of lying about such a grave matter, Carol never thought of anyone else faking it. Lying about getting the Holy Ghost! Who but someone supremely confident there was no God watching could do something like that? Leanne sat in the pews inspecting her fellow churchgoers and tried to pick out the fakers. It was a lot like being in a room where a pipe is making the rounds, and there are those kids who don’t take the pipe but act high anyway. Or in Iraq, that competition among newcomers to see action. Until they saw it, then they shut the fuck up. At the Pentecostal church, Leanne thought she picked up on lots of fakers, boys who surged from their seats for the benefit of girls and vice versa. Whole families were struck at the same time, and when one family got going, certain others followed like clockwork. Keeping up with the Joneses. Leanne was glad all she had to do to fit in back in high school was do drugs and put out. Having to fakespeak in tongues. That was rough. Only Carol stood strong. And she thought it was weakness.

* * *

After fishing out her dead phone, Leanne came out of the bathroom and started for the stairwell, noticing a sign that said “Westbound to Tulsa” just before she descended. Those stairs would take her to the wrong side of the highway, wrong parking lot. She walked back across the building, past the gift shop to the “Eastbound to Joplin” stairs, but just as she was about to take them, she saw one of the sons of the flat-faced woman standing at the bottom of the stairs by the front door, hands clasped behind his back, looking at a stand of travel brochures. The handicapped elevator opened and the other brother, Bo, stuck his head out, looking around. When he saw her, his face lit up and he held the door.

She spun around and headed back across the restaurant. Where was a cop when you needed one? She kept an eye out for Ma Barker and was surprised not to see her. Where had she gotten to? Wherever she was, she could probably hear Ivy, who was wide awake and in high spirits, laughing with delight at her mother’s fast pace.

Leanne took the “Westbound” stairs and came out of the restaurant. She stood on the asphalt looking across the vast parking lot at the Phillips 66 station that shared space with the McDonald’s. It seemed a long way off, but she walked towards it, holding Ivy’s head to protect her from the sun. Semitrucks swarmed through the lot like sharks in a reef. When she stood on her tiptoes and could see her red Civic across the highway in the parking lot on the other side. If she had been alone, she would have braved the traffic, scaled the concrete barrier in the center of the highway, no problem, but with the baby in her arms, it was out of the question. She was stuck for the moment. Finally making it into the cool air of the Phillips 66 station, she headed for the coolers in the back, opening a door to pull out a Gatorade and standing there for a minute in the cold air until the sweat on Ivy’s face began to dry.

As she closed the cooler, she bumped into Ma Barker, who was right behind her. “Well, hi!” She reached over Leanne’s shoulder and stroked Ivy’s cheek. “You parked over here?”

Leanne stared at her. She pushed past her. She wanted to fly out the front door, but she had already opened the Gatorade and had to stand in line to pay. Oh, it was crazy—a life and death moment and she couldn’t leave without paying. She rocked back and forth from foot to foot as the person ahead of her in line asked the clerk questions about the Will Rogers statue outside. Ma Barker stood behind her in line and cooed at Ivy. Leanne took a long pull on her Gatorade and noticed Ma Barker’s boys in a white Ford Bronco parked right out front.

“You need a lift to your car?” Ma Barker asked. “This damn parking lot’s bigger than some towns I’ve lived in. You might have quite a hike. Too hot for that baby.”

“Thank you,” Leanne said. “We’re fine. Her daddy’s airing up the tires. He’ll be here in a second.” Leanne imagined Billy airing up the tires.

She imagined him in civilian clothes, shorts and a t-shirt, coming into Phillips 66. He hardly had any civilian clothes—a couple of OU t-shirts, a couple of plain t-shirts. He wasn’t the sort to care about his clothes, wasn’t social at all. When he did talk, he was shy and rude. He was hung up about what he called a secret language that everyone around them spoke. Leanne didn’t speak that language either, and that was why they liked each other. They could be together, like Leanne and Carol at church, and bear up under the weight of all they didn’t know, their inarticulateness its own kind of language. He had reenlisted because the baby coming stressed him out and he wasn’t sure what other kind of job he could get. Leanne understood, although when she thought of him going back over there after they agreed not to, anger sat in her chest like a smoldering coal. Maybe the language he hadn’t
spoken was the language of life, of staying alive.

She paid for her Gatorade. Then she didn’t know what to do. She took a long time putting her change in her purse, staring at the slick white counter, feeling Ma Barker press in behind her, trying to think of what to do. They were watching her, Ma Barker and her boys. If she walked back to the McDonald’s they’d follow her, grab her and the baby out in the hot middle of that parking lot. But here, she was surrounded by people. She could stay in the gas station all day if she had to. She could tell the clerk what was happening, she could kick Ma Barker in the solar plexus, she could scream. She stepped away from the counter and stood in front of a magazine rack by the front window. She picked up a magazine and flipped it open. At some point, Ivy had wet her diaper. She was hot, wet, and tired of being in the halter, her little legs kicking against Leanne’s stomach. She began to wail, a mindshattering sound that undulated like an ambulance siren. Leanne bounced her up and down on one hip and kissed her face all over, muttering, “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay” into Ivy’s ears.

She felt a hand on her arm. Ma Barker was smiling into her face. “You sure you’re okay?” Leanne nodded.

“All right, then. Bye now.”

Leanne watched as Ma Barker climbed into the front seat of the Bronco, handed a Pepsi to Bo, who was driving, and passed another soda into the back seat. It seemed to Leanne that they all looked at her, then the Bronco rolled away from the curb and they were gone.

She stepped outside and watched until the Bronco disappeared onto the highway.

* * *

Leanne had never suggested to Carol that some of the members of the congregation were faking their Holy Ghost ride. She knew she should have. She knew she might have made her mother-in-law feel better to realize she wasn’t the only one denied the eighth gift of the Spirit, but she didn’t have the kind of relationship with her where there was space to say, “You’re a good woman, Carol.” She could talk about the daily mystery of parenting, holding that tiny bright life up and away from darkness and harm. And mundane, practical things, oil changes and diaper brands, she could talk to Carol about those things. But she couldn’t talk about Carol herself, who Carol was, or who she was, for that matter. And so she never said a word and only gradually had come to realize that, to Carol, this inability to speak in tongues, coupled with her son’s death, looked like proof positive that God hated her. Leanne needed to do something to help her, but it was hard to feel a duty to help anyone else, with an infant and a dead husband and a future she couldn’t picture. Carol was already pushing so hard for Leanne to stay in Oklahoma and move in with her, that Leanne was afraid to do anything that might bring them closer. So she said nothing and watched Carol grow sadder and sadder.

* * *

Ivy cried all the way back across the parking lot and through the McDonald’s, out the other side and into Leanne’s Civic. But once Leanne got the air conditioner going and changed Ivy’s diaper and the car was humming smoothly along the turnpike, Ivy fell asleep and stayed asleep. In the silence, Leanne realized she was breathing like a racehorse, and she was dizzy. Her hands shook on the steering wheel and acid raced up and down her esophagus. She wanted rest, and she wanted to hand Ivy to someone she could trust, just for a little while, just long enough to sleep. She was still shaking when she pulled into the parking lot of her new apartment in Joplin 45 minutes later. Carol’s Oldsmobile was right in front and Carol was sitting in it, staring into space. Leanne cut the engine of the Civic and heard country music coming from Carol’s car.

When she saw Leanne pull up, Carol reached into the passenger seat and lifted out a houseplant with shiny leaves and a big yellow bow around the pot. She tried to hand it to Leanne before either of them had said anything.

Carol spoke first. “I called you.”

Leanne looked at her mother-in-law. Her face was streaked with eye makeup and bloated from crying. She was still crying. Leanne couldn’t decide what to say without letting on that she had made an unreported stop. “I’m sorry.”

“I told myself there’s two possibilities.” Carol’s voice trembled. “Either she stopped and didn’t tell me just because she hates me so much she couldn’t stand to be with me even this long, even when she’s about to be rid of me like she wants. Or they’re dead in a ditch. My only link to this life, that baby girl, gone like Billy.”

“No, no,” Leanne said. “We’re okay. Everything’s okay, Carol.”

“She’s gone from me. I’ll be down there, plum alone.”

Leanne had a vision of Carol walking to the 7-Eleven by her house, driving the Oldsmobile to church, eating alone, spending the evenings watching Wheel of Fortune and waiting for the sun to go down low enough so the moonflowers climbing her porch trellis would bloom. Ivy was awake. When she saw Carol she laughed and clapped and reached for her.

“Look who’s here,” Leanne held her out. “Will you hold her for me? She needs her Gram.”

Carol set the plant on the hood of the car and took Ivy, lifting her high in the air. “Look at that,” she said. “Look at that girl. That’s my girl.”

Leanne picked up the housewarming plant and started up the sidewalk to the apartment. “Come on,” she said. “Come on in.”

Carol followed behind her. Ivy babbled with a purpose, telling her all about the trip. “Is that right?” Carol said. “Oh, my! You don’t say! My land, what an adventure, little one!” But when they reached the door, while Leanne turned the key in the lock, Carol reached for Leanne and said in a low voice, “How did I beat you here? You tell me how.”

Leanne turned around and saw that Carol was bright and clear to her. She regarded her with the late afternoon sun beating down on the three of them. She looked at Carol’s grief, into that hole to hell that gaped in the middle of her, all the way down. It hurt, but she looked. She didn’t look away until Carol moved Ivy to her shoulder and pushed the door open.