Holly sees you put on your suit, and watches from your bed as you tie your tie. Her dorm room has a larger cot than your apartment, but she never comments on it.
"You look nice," she says instead, and twines a piece of hair around her finger. This week it's red. She never keeps her hair blond, and perversely you're glad about it.
"Thank you," you say.
"Going somewhere?" she asks you, as you pat the knot into place. It's innocent enough, and her face isn't suspicious, or angry, or particularly any way at all. She's giving you a way out, to decline an answer, moreover. You're still on your guard.
"Yep," you answer, and half-glance at her, over your shoulder. You smile at her. "I won't be long. Couple of hours, maybe."
"It's okay," she tells you.
"I know you came down here especially," you tell her, and then, "I'll make it up to you, I will."
Holly only gets to see you once a month now, going to school in New York City; and you're going to waste her Saturday afternoon by driving for an hour just to turn around and drive right back again.
"It's okay, dad," she repeats. She watches as you turn around, to face her, and then she says, "that's your funeral suit."
The fact that after all these years she recognises what it is makes your stomach hurt. Of course, she's seen you disappear in it four times a year every year since you've been out. "It is," you say.
"Mom died in December, so did your brother," she says. You nod. "Gary died in February," she says. You nod again, even as you feel the breath leave your lungs, and your insides go to ice at the mention of Gary's name; still picturing some punk cutting off his hand after stabbing him in the chest, Vern's smiling face in the background, a child screaming. That image still gives you nightmares at least twice a month. Usually more.
"Who died in June?" she asks you, and you nearly lie, you nearly tell her someone from work, someone she never knew, someone unimportant and already faded. You almost give her Hank's name, to cover the pain.
But Holly isn't your father, who never could handle you, she's not your ex-wife, in the ground years now, she's not even Harry, who lives with his grandparents and refuses to even answer the phone if it's you on the line. Holly saw her uncle get stabbed in front of her at six years old, and she kept contact with you in prison even after no one made her anymore.
"An inmate," you say to her. "my roommate." She watches you pick up your razor, and you stare at yourself in the mirror. You look the same, even through all the years. Out of the corner of your eye, you can see her, serene in the corner of the glass. "No one, really," you answer truthfully, and out of the corner of your eye, you think you see her understand.
You put the razor down. You can give him that much.