After lunch my mother finally lets me go up to my room. It was agony trying to eat at a normal pace while I could feel the book pressing against my skin beneath my jacket. I close the door and pull the book from my jeans, holding it with both hands as I cross the room to my bed.
I wonder what it could hold. Maybe government secrets? Details about a drug smuggling operation? Incriminating photos?
My heart races as I crack open the cover. The first page is blank. I flip to the next page. Same thing. In frustration I thumb through the entire book. Every single page is blank. What the hell? I hold the book upside down and shake it. Something flutters out and lands on my covers. Picking it up, I realize it’s a photo of Dal Torres holding up a middle finger to the camera. I turn the photo over and there’s a message scrawled in sloppy writing that reads: “To the idiot who thinks it’s easy to steal from Dal Torres, think again.”
“Why do you have the book?”
I look up startled to find Lionel standing in my doorway. “What are you doing here?” I sputter.
“I came to check on you, I felt bad about what you saw last night,” he says, striding into the room, “But that’s beside the point. Why do you have the book?”
“I found it when we were searching for it. I wanted to know what the big secret was. Surprise, it’s a whole lot of nothing.” I hold up the photo and Lionel snatches it from my hand.
He studies the picture, then flips it over, reading the message. His faces blanches and he tosses the photo down and picks the book up off the bed, flipping through the pages.
“I don’t understand,” Lionel whispers.
“What’s not to understand? You thought you were smart, but Torres was smarter.”
Lionel closes the book, staring down at me. “But if this was just a fake, why did Torres act so upset when he saw us in his room? Why wouldn’t he just let us get away, why start a fight when he saw I had a knife? It doesn’t make any sense.”
I draw my knees up. “I don’t know.”
Lionel sits down beside me, his eyes far away as he contemplates. “Is it possible Ashley was involved…?”
“You keep mentioning Ashley. Why would he want to screw you over? Aren’t you friends?”
“I thought so.” Lionel leans back, resting on his elbows. “If I tell you about Ashley and Dal Torres, will you promise not to freak out? I mean, you’re already involved, more than you should be.”
“You’re regretting bringing me along in the first place, aren’t you?” I guess.
Lionel grimaces. “A little. Why did you agree to come along? I mean, you don’t really seem like the kind of girl who enjoys breaking and entering.”
I laugh. “I’m not. I just needed to do something exciting.”
“Yeah. You thought it would be some elaborate explanation?” I smile, gathering my hair over one shoulder and finger combing the knots out. “Plus my friend needed some help. Anyway, before we get any more sidetracked, you were going to tell me about Ashley and Torres. Spill.”
Lionel casts me a dubious look before staring up at the ceiling. “You are one strange girl, Cass. Okay, where do I start?”
“Cassidy?” my mother asks, popping her head inside my room. “I was wondering if Lionel would like some to eat. There’s still some leftover souvlaki from lunch.”
Lionel perps up, his eyes smiling of their own accord. “I’d love some. I’m starving.”
I give Lionel a dark look. He’s clearly thankful for the interruption. He really doesn’t want to tell me what’s in that book. But I’ll find out one way or another. I smile at my mother. “That’d be great. Thanks, Mom.”
We get up and follow my mother downstairs. I whisper to Lionel on the stairs. “We aren’t done talking about the book.”
Lionel offers me a small grimace and averts his eyes.
So, I actually wrote a poem today. I know it’s usually Collin’s thing…but you know! Got to branch out sometimes. Although this one is pretty far out there, if you like things a little more racy. I was inspired by a friends illustrations and wrote this for her and decided to share with you guys. Enjoy.
The silk of her skin,
The heat of her breath,
The burn of his beard,
A red tie,
The rough pads of his fingers,
A dark wood desk,
A thick hard cover book,
The smell of fresh chalk,
My body wasn’t the same anymore, the scars and silver lines providing a constant reminder of the thing that I lost, that I could never get back.
I ran my finger along the largest one, stretching from my navel to pubic bone. Mesmerized by the silky feeling of it. I’m not sure how long I stared at the mark, imagining my life as something different before he entered the room, silently and reserved, as he always was.
“You’re beautiful.” Is all he said. I don’t look up, not wanting to see the look of longing and loss on his face. I see it enough in my own. Instead, I pull down my top, hiding the marks of her life from us both. It’s only a nasty reminder and I’m not even sure why I continued to torture myself. Maybe because I deserved it.
I finally turned toward him, my husband, Ben. His eyes traveled up my body, landing on my own. His dark scuff perfectly sculpted, his even darker hair coiffed on top, dark brown eyes with just a hint of amber in them. He was a beautiful man, he gave me a beautiful child…and I took it away from him. I’m not sure how he can stand to look at me with anything but hate and regret in his eyes. It’s why I shifted my gaze away almost instantly. I knew I was pushing him away, but it was what he needed but hadn’t yet realized. He didn’t deserve a wife who couldn’t bare children, whose body killed innocent souls. I was evil. He was angel.
I sat down on the edge of the bed, playing with the frayed edge of shirt. Much like my life, it too had begun to unravel. The bed dipped beside me as Ben sat down. His hand grasped mine, pulling it away from the wayward strand.
“It’s okay, Hannah.” He said simply, with comfort. I didn’t feel it though, I couldn’t. He didn’t know what he was saying, it would never be okay again. I ripped my hand from his.
“Hannah…please. I’m your husband, I’m here for you but I can feel you pulling away from me.”
I shake my head, letting my blonde hair fall over my eyes, sheilding myself from him. “It’s not okay, it will never be okay…I’m..broken, useless.” I finally admitted.
His calloused finger gently pushed aside a lock of hair, relocating it behind my ear. “Never.” He whispered against my cheek, his warm breath ghosting across my face. His lips gently ran back and forth over my heated skin. A warm hand engulfed the other side, pulling me toward him. I tried to close my eyes, avoid the connection, but he didn’t allow it. “You are the most beautiful, couragous woman I have ever met. I don’t want to hear you ever speak about yourself that way again, Hannah.”
I scoffed, not wanting to believe anything he was saying. After what I did…what my body did, I could never believe that. “What about Julie, Ben? I killed her. I killed our daughter.” I spit at him, he flinches but his eyes don’t waver, I wish they would. I wish he would give me just a little bit of vulnerability I could feed off, so I could save him…
To be continued.
The lobby is a moderately sized space, with a tiled floor and small breakfast area to the left. Ashley stands behind the front desk in his beige polo with the hotel’s logo on the front. He looks up from his computer as I approach, his black hair, streaked with purple, falling lazily over one eye. His lips quirk up at the corner.
I cross my arms over the raised counter and play it cool. I don’t want to let him know I suspect him of anything. “Ash.”
He looks around quickly before lowering his voice. “How did things go last night?”
I laugh. “How do you think it went? Torres is dead.”
A couple descends the stairs nearby, talking loudly to each other. They come to a stop at the desk a foot away from me. Tourists have no sense of personal space.
“Yeah, can I get a city map?” The balding man says.
Ashley flashes them his best customer service smile. “Sure thing. Can I get you a popular sites pamphlet as well?”
“Didn’t you hear him?” The wife asks in a nasally voice. “Just get a map.”
“Right away.” Ashley pulls a folded map from a drawer and hands it to the husband. “Have a great day.”
The wife rolls her eyes as the husband grabs the pamphlet and they head out the automatic doors. I wait until the doors close before speaking again.
“Things went badly.”
“Did you at least get what you were looking for?”
I frown. “Well yeah, but then I sort of lost it…”
“You lost something that was important enough to kill for?” Ashley laughs incredulously. “Jesus.”
“Were you working last night?”
Ashley sobers. “I had a morning shift yesterday.”
“So you weren’t here when the cops showed up?”
“Just wondering, in case you had heard anything they said. If they had any leads or anything.”
“Oh,” Ashley nods. “Sorry. But this might help you out.” He reaches under the desk and pulls out my pocket knife, handing it over the counter.
I snatch it from his hand. “Where did you find this?”
“Behind the hotel earlier when I was taking out the trash. I recognized the handle and thought I better get it back to you before someone else found it and put two and two together.”
“So what are you going to do about the lost thing you stole from Torres?” Ashley asks.
“Honestly? I have no idea, but I’ll figure it out.”
“Let me know how it goes.”
“Sure. I’m going to get going though. I don’t want to be seen around here for a few days.”
“I understand. Best of luck.” Ashley dips his chin and grins as I cross the lobby and exit the hotel.
Outside, I flip the knife over and over again in my hands, staring down at the snakeskin pattern printed on the handle. I hadn’t even noticed I’d dropped it. I suppose I should be grateful to Ashley for returning it, but I still can’t shake the feeling he’s crooked. What was he doing loading up Torres’ suitcases? Why didn’t the police collect them as evidence?
But what about Cassidy? I’ve been so caught up in finding that book that I’ve completely forgotten Cass’ feelings. She wasn’t prepared for me killing someone and I haven’t even talked to her about it. She’s got to be freaking out. I should drop by her house and talk to her. That’s what a friend would do.
I tuck the knife into my back pocket and catch the next bus at the stop down the street.
Out of hibernation, I am. I also now have a working computer! Yay. Here is the first thing I’ve written in quite awhile. Enjoy. – Turner.
The steady drip, drip, drip of the tap is the only noise in the house.
No laughing children, no explosions from video games on the TV, no microwave signaling ready popcorn.
The room is the same, the couch has the same print from where he always sat, the air freshener still puffs out the same familiar scent…but nothing is truly the same anymore.
It will never be the same again.
I glance over at the clock ticking away on the wall, I’d usually be in the midst of making dinner right now. Juggling the children and the hot pans as they played around my ankles. Not today…there isn’t anyone to cook for. There’s just me in the empty house that was once my home.
“It’s time, Jill. We need to go…you need to move past this.” A voice comes from behind me, a familiar, yet unwelcome voice. How can she walk in here and act like she knows what it is that I need? She was never a true friend before and her apperance now only irritates me further.
“How would you know what I need?” I hiss at my facade of a friend. Her face pulls into a shocked expression. The wrinkles around her dark eyes becoming prominent. I stand, the anger surging through my blood. All the words that have eaten at me for years, the things I let fester while putting on my smiling face for this woman…they spew out of me. I can’t control them and I no longer want to.
“Get the fuck out, Hailey. Now. I don’t want your nose in my damn buisness anymore.”
Her face turns beet red. “You’re hurt…so I’m going to ignore what you just said, but you need to calm it down, Jillian.”
A manical laugh escapes me as tears press at my lids, I refuse to let them fall. “My whole family is dead. DEAD. The last thing I need is one more minute with you and your fake friendship. You’re nothing but a user, a leech who latches onto happy people until there is nothing left. You need to get out of my life, that’s what I need. Now get. The fuck. Out of my house.” I’m panting after all that. A weight lifts off my shoulders, the part of myself that knows I was out of line lays dormant, which I’m grateful for.
I know she wants to have the last word, but my expression obviously stops her. With one last dagger thrown at me, she turns on her cheap heels and leaves. I collapse back to the couch. The tears finally break.
There’s no one left, I’m all alone. I have no idea what I’m going to do with my life now. How does one come back from this? I let the darkness take me, curling my legs into my body and hugging them as tight as I can, praying for his arms once more.
I must doze off, because a light breeze wakes me. It washes across my face, like a caress.
“Jamie…” I whisper into the nothingness. The sun has long since set, the house is cast in darkness.
I squeeze my eyes shut, just as another gust of warm wind crosses my lips. Like a kiss. Like his kiss.
I must be dreaming, the fingers lightly tapping up my arms can’t be real. I don’t want to open my eyes lest they disappear. This is the closest I’ve felt to him since it happened, since the man who couldn’t control his addiction ran into my husbands car as he was driving our children to swimming practice.
“Please…Jamie. I can’t do this without you.” I cry to the wind. “I need you. I’m so alone…so alone I could just die. Why didn’t they take me too? My heart is broken, the pieces so jagged they stab and dig at me everytime I take a breath. I can’t breathe.” I shatter, the tears stinging as they fall.
A piece of hair falls over my eyes and I swear I can feel it move across my forehead, like he used to do.
Then…two words. Two words in his deep baritone break through the void that seperates us. “Forever, always.”
I know then that that is his goodbye.
My eyes spring open, staring at the framed photos on the mantle..and for the first time in months, I smile at them.