There was nothing I could say, nothing I wanted to say at that exact moment. Nothing that would help.
Much that would hurt.
“I said I’d be back.” His voice seemed sad.
“Tom,” I told him. “I’m sorry.”
His sockets stared at where my head had been when I was standing. He stood still. Had he not really seen me? Has my feeling he was looking at me been only an illusion?
His voice was dry and distant. Death was his ventriloquist, I thought. “I’m sorry, too.”
“I deserve this,” I said. “For what I did. I know I deserve this. Only – Tom, I’m scared. You really got me scared.”
Tom stepped closer. He came to where I sat and stood there, arms swinging at his sides, fleshless fingers flexing. The dark, deep sockets still refused to consider me.
The tears streaming down my face weren’t scalding; they were icy cold. “I deserve what you came here to do to me, Tom. But, oh, God –”
“You didn’t mean to kill me. Is that it? You didn’t mean it?”
“I won’t lie to you. I did mean it, at the time. Oh, God. I did mean it. But ever since –. All these months, Tom, all these months. How I’ve regretted it. I’ve felt so much guilt. I’m so damned sorry for
what I did.”
“You know? How? You can’t know.”
“Of course I can. The dead dream. They can’t help what they dream. I dream about you. Even your thoughts.”
Jerking, his hands moved toward my throat. They paused. I felt his fingertips brush against my skin.
I said, “Please don’t.”
His hands stopped shaking. “I wish I could.” They moved again. “The dead can’t help what they do, either.”