Seriously?

A little more from NaNoWriMo 2012…

 

Light filtered through the half-drawn blinds in her office, casting razor sharp shadow strips across everything in her line of sight. This was how Gabi sometimes told the time. The room she rented for when she was doing legwork and needed some quiet only ever got the dying light, and by the looks of things, the day was winding down.

She sighed and pulled her glasses off and squeezed her eyes shut. Gabi had been stuck in the office for hours, fielding calls, harassing medical examiners, bribing anyone she could… You’d think that since her father had left the business on such a stellar note, they would at least extend her some sort of courtesy. But no, instead the police department and everyone else treated her like the thorn in their side.

Maybe she was. She did close cases, much to their dislike. Surely the whole point of this game was to make the sure the bad guys are caught and put in jail? Apparently that was a little too idealistic for her uniformed friends. She never had understood the politics when it came to solving crime.

But they had made one right guess – that dead guy could not have committed suicide. And she was right in assuming he was a religious man. Father Elliot was one of the favourites at the church, and Gabi couldn’t help but notice he was also one of the youngest members of the congregation. So if he had offed himself, his secrets must have been as sordid as they get. Or at least morally dubious enough for him to consider the world a better place without him in it, and hell the most deserving place of all for his eternal soul.

Gabi leaned back in her chair and propped her feet up on the desk, carefully avoiding the stone cold cup of coffee and her half-eaten lunch. Just as she was getting comfortable and feeling a nap coming on, the goddamned phone rang.

Hitting the speaker button with a pencil, Gabi barked “Colt.”

“Quite a bedside manner you have, Colt.” Fucking David.

“It’s all for you, baby.” Grumbling, she leaned back again and closed her eyes. “What do you want, David?”

“I figured you might have wanted to hear what the medical examiner had to say… but if you’re going to be like that…” Her eyes shot open, she pulled her feet off the desk and sat up straight, picking up the phone and cancelling the speaker.

“Tell me.”

“I don’t know, Colt, what are you going to do for me in return?” Seriously?

“Seriously?” Gabi asked, annoyance biting her tone.

“Seriously.”

“Isn’t this against police code or something? Are you even allowed to bribe and evade?”

She heard him huff on the otherside. “Listen, you want the info or not?”

“Obviously I want the info.”

“So let me buy you dinner?” It started out like a tickle at the back of Gabi’s throat, but soon grew into an obnoxious guffawing laugh. She could practically hear him reaching for his gun on the other side of the phone.

“Whatever David. I’ll settle for drinks. Joe’s Bar, 9pm. See ya.”

Putting the phone down, Gabi grinned. Drinks with David. That could go so impossibly right, or so, so, so wrong.

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Dead or Alive

This was the start of my 2012 NaNoWriMo disaster. This is seriously bare-bones and who knows if I’ll ever sit around and finish or edit this. So here we go. Have fun 😛

 

Her shoe nudged the dead body. She knew he must have been dead for hours because he didn’t even budge.

The rain clattered against the tiled roof, a harsh staccato booming through the silence of the room. She prodded his hand with the tip of her wet boot. Nothing.

It was so strange how a body can become so heavy and lose all that life the moment the brain goes dead and the heart stops beating. No spark, just suspended animation.

She shook her head, blonde hair falling into her eyes before she pushed it off her forehead and stared down at the body again, noticing for the first time that he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. In fact, down to his clean clothes, expensive haircut and shiny brogues, he looked like a well-to-do guy. But good guys don’t end up dead on a church floor.

She sighed, mentally noting the small things – ironed clothes, cross around the neck, clipped nails, his hands looked soft and unused… Bending down to examine the body more closely, her phone went off, blaring Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or Alive. Oops. Probably the wrong song to go off at a crime scene. Apparently the medical examiner thought so as well, because he shot her a dirty look.

Straightening up, she gestured a “sorry, sorry” with her hands and backed away from the body and headed towards the door. Her breath misted as she hunched under the church awning, carefully trying to avoid the snake of water winding its way closer to her feet. She tugged the hem of her t-shirt down and pulled her leather jacket closed in the front, avoiding the cold fingers of air trying to get at her.

“Colt,” she answered, not even bothering to check caller ID. But even if she had, she wouldn’t have recognised the number. In her line of work, private or unfamiliar numbers were more common than none.

“Oh Gabi, I’m so glad you answered,” began a blubbering and sobbing woman. Gabi pulled the phone away from her ear, frowning at it as she continued to hear the hysteric noises on the other side. What on earth?

And finally, half way through a very teary monologue, she figured it out.

“Monique?” She probably shouldn’t have sounded so surprised, but at least it worked. All crying stopped. Even Gabi held her breath, just leaving the sound of the torrential downpour hitting the pavement. So, this wasn’t awkward at all.

“Good God, how long has it been?” Gabi started, trying to break the silence.

“Gabi, don’t say the –”

“Yes, yes…” Gabi had forgotten that Monique was religious. Hell, she was religious enough to want to dedicate her body and mind to the –

“Church…” Gabi finished her thought out loud. It clicked then. Why else would a girl she hadn’t spoken to in over ten years be calling? Not just any girl, mind you. She was a church going, communion wine and cracker eating, super involved crazy person. “You’re not calling about this –”

“Murder. At the church I belong to,” Monique finished.

Oh dear. With the phone still to her ear, Gabi peered around. It was one thing talking to Monique on the phone, but it was a whole different story seeing her in person. Monique was one of those larger than life types. How she ended up taking this career path was completely beyond Gabi’s understanding.

Gabi and Monique always had a presentable friendship. You know, the type that looked good on the outside but was completely rotten when no one else was looking. It was all barbed words, and sarcasm, hissing and claws. Of course, Monique would never admit to this. A woman of her stature, of her belief could never think a bad thought. Ever.

Snorting, Gabi cancelled the call, remembering precisely why she had walked away from that relationship. She had no time for holier-than-thou nonsense. To be fair, though, maybe time had changed Monique. Time had definitely changed Gabi, though for the better… who knows.

Ducking under the crime scene tape again, Gabi headed toward the group of police hovering around the body. Their quiet muttering ground to a halt when she got closer.

“Boys.” Gabi nodded her head towards them. Some of them looked up and smiled, but most of them shot her daggers. Yeah, she seemed to have that way with people.

“Damnit Gabi, what on God’s green earth are you doing here? This is the third time this week I’ve found you at my crime scene!” And then there was that.

David was the type that could stop hearts in an instant. Or, if anything, this super power only really worked on her. He had the ability to make Gabi bite down on her bottom lip and try her damnedest not to picture him naked in front of his team. But she supposed all things considered, he was a weathered man. He was at least two heads taller than she was, with skin that looked warm and smooth. But it was his eyes that really caught her breath every time. He wore that same expression she’d seen on so many other cops’ faces, the same one she had seen on her father’s face as well – the look of someone who had seen too much and didn’t trust anyone.

Well at least he could count. And could a man named David really say “God’s green earth” out loud in a church without some serious smiting?

Gabi looked up towards the ceiling to check for any signs of lightning, thunder, wrath, whatever. She had to hide a smile when she noticed David doing the same thing.

But on second thought, was David even allowed in a church? The things that man did with a pair of jeans… It was surely a sin in itself. Oh my. And mentally undressing a man while standing under the cross of Jesus Christ probably wasn’t allowed either. They were both doomed at this rate.

Before Gabi could give the usual snarky reply, she found herself choked nearly to death by an exceptionally ample chest and way too much black fabric.

“I’m so glad you’re here!” And Gabi was squeezed tighter.

A cough sounded from behind Gabi and finally she was placed back on her feet and her vision cleared. Oh no. Oh no, oh no, oh no.

“Monique…” Gabi began, but the crying started before anyone could say another word.

This is the problem with death. It’s also the problem with working with people. They have a pulse, which means many of them do a lot of crying, especially after seeing a dead body, or talking about a dead body… The list really does go on. But a crying nun? Gabi was not ready for this.

David cleared his throat again, and moved his hip away from the edge of the altar. Guess he didn’t think too much about all this church business either.

“Um, Sister…” David began, but Monique pulled away from Gabi and wiped the tears from her cheeks.

“I can’t believe it, Gabi. They’re saying he…” a hush fell over David, and he awkwardly stepped back and looked away.

“Saying he committed suicide,” she whispered and crossed herself.

Gabi pulled a face and put a hand on Monique’s arm.

The rain had finally stopped, and the drumming of voices and feet grew in volume. Quite a crowd had started gathering outside and Gabi had a feeling it would only get bigger and louder as the morning wore on.

The grey light was slowly brightening, and Gabi was sure if she went outside and stood on her tippy toes, she would see the sun just peaking out from behind the mountain. She should still be in bed. She would have still been in bed if she hadn’t flicked on the police scanner. Damn, insomnia. Thoughts of coffee started filtering into her head as she patted Monique like someone who had never owned a pet. Or a proper friend for awhile. Whichever.

Luckily David was more adept at handling emotional situations. He led Monique away to a room off to the side. Even though all she could smell was Monique’s soap and washing detergent, she could finally breathe again.

The smell of rain gusted through the open church door, smelling like freshly turned soil and grass. Fresh, and crisp, unlike the stifling heat in the room from the jam packed bodies. If they didn’t get the dead guy out of there soon, they’d have a lot more to worry about than just the humidity.

Getting back to work, Gabi started taking notes, sketching the scene in her little notebook, and wandering around the scene, talking to constables and police officers. It was only by the time she reached her car that David caught up with her. Or in this case, she caught up with David.

He was leaning against her black beat up car, staring into space. In that moment, he looked content, relaxed. He usually stood around looking tense, his muscles coiled and ready for attack, with a scowl placed firmly between his eyebrows. Yup, she liked him better this way.

Breathe

Yeah, so it’s not even mid-November, and I’m in a NaNoWriMo rut. Linkin Park totally threw out my word count :/ Anyway, goodluck to everyone still on track, writing their way back onto the right track, or just using this as an opportunity to flex the dusty writing-muscle.

 

Everyone has scars. Her fingers tiptoed up his chest, over the scars and stripes marking his chest. Proof that he lived and knew what it meant to fight to survive. Her lips soon followed, and she felt the slow exhale against her hair.

God, they must have had a lot of shots. Maybe she’ll forget this happened when morning rolls around, he thought. It had been a long time since he’d done it with the lights on. Just admitting this to himself made him feel like some self-conscious virgin, but it was the truth.

Going deep cover had changed his life. Hell, coming back to reality after that stint had mixed everything up. Sure, his family was happy about his return, but reconnecting had been hard. So he’d sucked it up and made it look much, much easier than it really was. But in the end, how do you even begin to describe what can simply only be described as a war – a war against others, yourself, your body.

He caught her fingers and moved them to his mouth, kissing them. The look she gave him was full; like there were so many things she wanted to say but couldn’t find the words to express them. He could see it in her eyes, the colour lightening, softening just a little. The walls she hid behind so successfully shivered and stuttered before he found her soft mouth and surprised her with a kiss.

“This shouldn’t be happening,” she muttered, her breath becoming his breath because she didn’t dare break contact.

“Yeah,” he replied before going in for another chaste kiss. She shuddered against the touch, before melting against him, wanting to feel every hard plain of his body against her softer one.

Gabi didn’t want to let go. Her fingers clutched at him, wherever she could reach and hold. His skin burned under her touch and every part of him vibrated with that warmth, that electricity they had ignored for so long. But in that moment, she realised that David maybe felt the exact same way. His lips were still against hers, his hand pressing her harder against him, trailing down her spine.

Finally breaking away from his mouth, Gabi shifted so that she was kneeling above him. A sigh escaped, whether from her or David, she wasn’t too sure. Maybe both of them.

“What happened to you?” She was looking at him hard, taking him in, his golden skin, mottled and marked by time and the things he kept silent. David went stiff. His hands stopped moving and his lips set in a line.

“Gabi…” He hoped she could hear him begging her no. But she remained silent, keeping her gaze on his.

“We don’t know each other well enough to go there,” he whispered.

“I disagree. I think I know you very well.” His lips quirked up a little, but her expression remained the same. Fine, if he thought she was joking…

“I know your favourite flavour ice cream is caramel. You like the colour blue… royal blue, specifically. What else…”

He stopped her there, and started shifting out from underneath her.

“That’s the superficial stuff. That’s the stuff everyone knows.”

“You didn’t let me finish,” her voice was soft, and she moved with him, following him, not letting him squirm out of this situation.

“You’re this great cop, and it’s because you care about people. You know what it means to lose and hurt and hate and feel so angry that pulling the trigger would be so goddamned easy. You’re always scowling or laughing. It’s like there’s no middle ground, but I’m sure there is. You just don’t let anyone in. All this silence between us… It doesn’t make me uneasy or feel awkward. It’s like I can finally breathe again. Sometimes I think you feel the same because you look lighter in those moments. Yeah, I don’t know-know you but I want to.”

True to form, David said nothing. At least he had stopped trying to get out from under her hands, she thought. His face was still hard though.

“I’m still not going there, Gabi.” He saw her expression crumple but she nodded anyway, frozen to the spot.

Just a push from him left her sprawled backwards. “This doesn’t mean we need to stop here.” As if to reinforce his words, he moved between her legs and stole one kiss, another kiss, until he wasn’t sure where his begun and her body ended.

 

NaNoWriMo 2012

Pancatnanowrimo2012-resized

So apparently I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year? Well, according to this very accurate drawing. Note the red back of the chair (I just recently bought a red leather office chair for my room), the notebook with the red pages (a Writable if I’m not mistaken – I bought one from http://humanwrit.es), the fountain pen (it’s a given. I’m using a Black Lamy Safari at the moment) and the ahem pink bra (it really does look that way by the way…)

>.>
<.<

Well, we’ll see if this one works out. Last year I got to about the halfway mark… And that was WITH some semblance of an idea. Right now… I have a nun and an investigator. I really should start eating cheese before bed – maybe the dreams will be enlightening…

 

Drawing by swift

Approaching…

A nun and a private investigator. This might be an idea for NaNoWriMo…

Getting caught

Previous posts: The Beginning, Crispin Meets Gina, Spilt Milk, Pretty Penny, 4am, Stumble, Left in the Lurch & Slip

It was 5am and Larry was still sleeping. Slivers of sunlight were casting bands of light across Nancy’s side of the bed, and she groaned softly, waking with the sun in her eyes. She slid out of bed and pulled a jersey from the top shelf of the clothing cupboard, but before she could put it on, she spotted a brown corner poking out from under the stack of t-shirts on the bottom shelf.

She quickly looked around, listening hard. Larry seemed to be fast asleep. She carefully tugged the corner, pulling the envelope free. It felt heavy in her hands.

Things had never been so secretive between them before. Or maybe they had been and she was only noticing now. She held a secret too, she reminded herself. The feel of Crispin’s lips against hers made her squirm with guilt – guilt at deceiving Larry, for betraying him, but also from the excitement. Crispin made her feel crazy.

Nancy stared at the envelope. It was like a test, and she wanted to cheat so badly. She cast a look over her shoulder, checking on Larry again. Just his deep breathing met her ears. She quietly closed the cupboard door and tiptoed out of the room. At the stairs, she carefully stepped over the creaking steps, her journey much more silent than Larry’s had been the night before, and headed for the kitchen. She switched the kettle, waiting for it to boil.

As clouds of steam rose from the spout, she held the envelope over it. The edges began to lift and peel back until she could open it without a tear or rip. Adrenaline was making her jump at every creak, every whisper groaning against the windows and the scratch of branches against the outside walls.

She slowly shook the contents out of the envelope. A pair of blue eyes stared up at her. Is this some kind of fucking joke? It was like the breath had been slammed out of her chest. Crispin. A picture of Crispin. He was wearing a black polo shirt. Short sleeves, and a goofy smile on his face. His arm was around someone, but she was cut out. 

Her hands shook and she dropped the photo on the counter and unfolded the stapled sheets. “Crispin Grove” it read. Her eyes caught snippets of words. “Missing”, “18 months”, “exhibiting signs…”

Nancy couldn’t breathe. What was Larry doing with this? Who is he? Who is my husband? Nancy shoved the folded paper back into the envelope. Her hand hesitated over the photo, before she slid it under the microwave. In the utility drawer, she found a stick of glue. She pasted the envelope lid down again and forced herself back up the stairs.

Her legs were like lead. She had to remind herself to draw in breath and let it out again. She peeked around the door and found Larry still asleep. Hastily, Nancy opened the cupboard door, stuck the envelope back where she found it.

She threw on some clothes, and grabbed her cellphone and bag. Back in the kitchen she retrieved the picture and scribbled a note for Larry.

Nancy sat in her car and dialed Crispin’s number. It rang until voicemail. 

“Shit, shit, shit!” she bashed the steering wheel and pressed redial. Again, voice mail. “Shit.”

Nancy started the car and backed out the driveway. She vaguely remembered the place their taxi had stopped at the few times they had met and she headed in that direction, hoping her memory would help her find her way.

***

 Crispin woke up to a loud, insistent knocking on his door. He glanced at the alarm clock. 6am. The door knob twisted.

“Crispin?” He heard his name hissed. “Crispin!” And his cellphone rang. 10 missed calls. What the hell?

He stumbled out of bed and unlocked the door. Nancy practically landed on top of him. She was pale and panting, and tears were streaming down her cheeks.

“Nancy,” he exhaled, steadying her. “What happened?”

He led her to the bed and sat her down. She flung her arms around him, pressing her wet face against his neck. Crispin wrapped his arms around her, breathing her in.

She gently pulled away and scrambled in her bag for the picture of Crispin. She shoved it in his hands and stared straight at him. He looked down at the picture and frowned.

“Where did you get this?”

But she wasn’t listening. An “ahh” had escaped her lips and she was sitting stock still.

“Shit,” he whispered.

“Crispin…” She could not pull her eyes away from the scars on his right arm. She had raised her hand to touch them without thinking, but Crispin got up and pulled a t-shirt over the tank top he was wearing.

“Crispin,” he heard her again. She stood up. “Crispin…”

He turned to face her. Her eyes were huge, still glued to his shoulder even though all she could see was cotton.

“So this is what…” It was starting to add up.

“Where did you get the picture, Nancy? Did Penny give it to you?” 

Nancy’s mouth was slow to work.

“I found it this morning. In an envelope. Larry’s envelope.”

“Fuck. What else was in the envelope?” Crispin was reaching for his cellphone.

“Papers. Quite a few of them. Maybe 20 pages?”

“Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Did you read them? What did they say?”

“I was scared there wasn’t time. I didn’t read them. I glanced at the first page. Something about you missing for…” She stared at his arm again, “18 months… Physical differences…”

Crispin collapsed on his bed, burying his head in his hands. 

“Do you know where Larry got the envelope from?”

Nancy shook her head. “He snuck out last night. I think he might have got the envelope then, but I don’t know. It could have been sitting there since he got home yesterday. It hasn’t been opened. I had to steam it open.”

“So he only has my name? There weren’t any other pictures?”

“No…”

“There might still be some hope.” He fumbled with his cellphone, finally finding Joe’s number.

“Joe!” Crispin was talking so fast Nancy could hardly keep up. Her head was fogging, her hands shaking. She hadn’t even noticed Crispin had ended the call.

“We’ll sort something out, Nancy.”

Stumble

So, I haven’t posted anything in awhile. I need a kick in the right direction. So, to help me get excited and interested in writing again, I’ve ordered myself a Writeable (http://humanwrit.es/the-writable/). They start shipping in July… So here’s to practice-practice-practice, and getting the wheel turning…Again.
 

Previous posts: The Beginning, Crispin Meets Gina, Spilt Milk, Pretty Penny & 4am


Nancy found him a week or two later. He was sitting outside a little deli, elbow deep in a gourmet sandwich.

She sat down opposite him. He looked up and swallowed the last bits of bread and cheese. “You found me,” he grinned.

“I said I would.” She leaned back in her seat and surveyed him as he continued to make his way through his lunch. 

The sun was hot on her back, a pair of large sunglasses covered her eyes and her dark hair was pulled back into a messy pony. Despite the simplicity she still looked sleek, well put together, like she had spent some time trying to find an outfit that looked both carefree and thrown-on, but also classy.

He grinned. She’d probably spent ages looking for just the thing.

She pulled her glasses off and gave him a look. He gulped. He must have looked guilty because she laughed, a low tinkle mingling with the clink of knives and forks and the hum of restaurant chatter.

Nancy ordered a glass of wine and sat talking to Crispin. She liked his animation, his easy smile. He made her feel like she wasn’t a wife who spent her evenings waiting for a husband who never called or came home. She felt real again, sitting so close to someone who seemed to care about the fact she did volunteer work, or that she was lonely and alone. 

Sometimes she could feel every atom in her body wanting to reach for him. The alcohol gave her the courage last time, but she didn’t want this next time to be a repeat. She wanted it clear in her mind, without the numb feeling of too much to drink.

When they got up and left the deli, their arms brushed and she tried hard not to close her eyes and try it again. They walked aimlessly, feeling the slow buzz of his skin close hers.

Even though their mouths moved, her mind was elsewhere. She was squeezing his fingers, undressing him, biting his lip.

Crispin stopped and turned to her. They had reached a cul-de-sac. She took a deep breath and moved closer, into his space, against his chest, her fingers finding his and the hot sun beating down on them. It was like he was holding his breath – his chest was still, hard, until he let that breath go, and he melted against her, setting her on fire.

 

4am

Previous posts: The Beginning, Crispin Meets Gina, Spilt Milk & Pretty Penny

It was 4am and the sky was a deep blue. A sliver of moon poked out from behind a cloud bank, and Crispin stood mesmerised, eyes fixed on the shadow of a lamppost. He had loosened his tie and popped the top two buttons. Icy air was chilling his skin, raising goose bumps on his neck and arms but the cold hadn’t quite reached his brain yet.

A foggy thump sat in his head as he lurched ever closer to his apartment. Thankgod there is only one flight of stairs to climb, he thought. His feet didn’t seem to understand the dexterity needed for walking, let alone the effort of heaving himself up a staircase.

The headlamp of a passing car blinded him for a second and he closed his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. He saw stars before he cracked an eyelid open and peered around. Definitely too much wine.

Amanda in her silvery dress had sidled up to him after a round of speed dating and smiled at him. Her lips were lush and she was interested. She had taken his hand, and leaned in.

“Want to get out of here?” Her tongue tripped over the words for a second, and he looked down at his own glass. Empty.

“Another drink?” he offered and she agreed only too willingly. He was hoping she’d get the hint, but she hadn’t caught it. An hour later, Amanda disappeared to the bathroom and didn’t resurface. Oops.

He felt a little bad about it. He knew she was trashed when they reached the bar, but it wasn’t his job to play mother. Maybe the explosions going off in his head was exactly what he deserved.

Crispin was suddenly at his door. He looked down the landing and wondered how he managed it. The stairs wobbled, and the key kept slipping on the lock. Groaning, he tried again, this time using both hands. Almost. Finally, he heard the tumblers and the click of an unlocked door. He turned the handle and stumbled in.

Pretty penny

So, this is a little more melodramatic than the others… Sorry! But I thought I should upload it anyway (at least for some sort of critique).

Read the rest: The Beginning, Crispin Meets Gina & Spilt Milk

Penny hadn’t died. She had been injured and was living with her parents. Gina had found out for him, just like she promised.

He was planning on visiting her. The thought made him feel sick to his stomach, but also excited to finally see her face.

It was hot and Crispin was sweating in his shirt. Should have worn something else, he thought, but he had borrowed the clothes from Joe. Joe was a shirts and slacks kind of man, even in the dead of summer.

Crickets chirped. Flies buzzed and irritated his neck and arms. He was always too slow to shake them off. Standing at Penny’s door, he tried to calm himself.

“Why so nervous? Jeez…” He said to himself. She was his fiancée after all. He loved her. An accident like this could not change the way he felt.

He stretched out his arm, his hand in a fist, ready to knock. It took concentration – he was still relearning movement and he felt stiff and aged. The door seemed looming. And then he had done it – his knuckles rapped against the white painted wood. One-two-three.

Seconds passed and then the door creaked open. Penny’s mother’s face peered through the crack. With an “oh my god” the door swung open and he was almost nose-to-nose with Virginia Sinclair.

“I thought – but – Penny!” she called, half staring wildly at him, half staring up the staircase, waiting for her daughter.

Penny appeared at the top of the stairs. He thought she looked wonderful in her yellow sundress. The light from the second storey window hit her and she glowed like a beautiful spirit. It made looking away difficult.

But she turned pale.

Crispin turned back to Virginia, frowning, the feeling of sick anxiety welling up again. Virginia seemed uncomfortable now. Her hand hovered between them, like she wanted to touch his arm, or pull him into a hug, but all she could do was stare.

“Penny.” He turned back to her, his body moving on its own. He stepped into the foyer. Crispin realised she wasn’t wearing her engagement ring. She must have lost it in the accident.

“I thought you were dead,” she said flatly. Crispin was taken aback by her tone.

“I should have died.” Crispin’s voice was soft. Everything about her body language told him not to move any closer.

“We were told you probably hadn’t made it. There was no body.”

“I’m sorry, Penny.” There wasn’t much else he could say to her. He couldn’t take back the mourning or the pain she must have felt. He had come to visit her as soon as he could. He didn’t want her to see him like he was. Joe and Gina had kept him hidden; it would be dangerous if people questioned his treatment. The less who knew, the better – and he had agreed.

“So what then? You just walked away from the accident and left me to deal?” She was angry. Bitter. This wasn’t like her.

“No. I was hurt…”

“You don’t look hurt,” she sneered at him. It was then that he saw the burn scars trailing up her arm and under the fabric of her dress. She seemed satisfied that he had finally noticed.

“And you without a scratch,” she muttered. What could he tell her? How much he had lost? That he was only living because of the hard work and care of a father and daughter? That she was breaking his heart?

“I lost a lot that day –” he began but she cut in.

“Yes you did.” Her eyes raked him, drinking him in.

He looked pasty. Dark rings settled under his eyes. He looked more solid than she remembered. The shirt he was wearing fit him well, but he had lost that tan she loved. His hair had been flattened into something presentable, but pieces still poked up. At least something hadn’t changed. His eyes were skittish, and she wasn’t sure if she was causing this or something else was bothering him.

“What took you so long?” She asked. Her face softened at the desperate look that took over his expression.

“I came as fast as I could… I’m sorry it took so long…” But his words were drowned by the white noise rushing in her ears. The anger rose up in her body until she was shaking. This wasn’t what she meant, and he knew it.

When Crispin turned to leave, she noticed his limp. He walked like an old man. A car was waiting for him out front. He carefully climbed in, and took a last look at the house. Their eyes met for a few seconds before she shut the door.

Crispin looked down at his hands. His eyes stung and his heart ached. His hand moved to his chest, holding it against his heart as the car pulled away.

Spilt milk

Follow on from: The Beginning & Crispin meets Gina

Crispin sat awkwardly in Joe’s armchair out on the stoep. The sun was just rising, the steam from his coffee mingling with the morning mist. He stared straight ahead, unable to look at his missing arm and leg. He held the mug in his only hand and blew on it.

The hole in his chest had been filled. God knows how they organised that one. When he asked Gina about it, she just shook her head and said nothing. Instead of a beating heart, he had a pump mechanism. He had no heart beat. He had no pulse. It was like being dead, he thought to himself. He would never say this out loud.

How do you come to terms with being… heartless? He snorted. It was as if the day he lost it, he became more sensitive. He found himself breaking down slowly but surely, finding more and more excuses not to leave his room. He would break out in a cold sweat and the emotion would well out of his chest, and slip out his mouth. Incoherent and raw, it would leave him a shaking mess.

Sometimes he would feel an itch. He’d reach down and… air. The calf he was going to scratch was gone. A few times he had woken up in the middle of the night, got up and… Fell. Like a fucking retard, he thought.

They had told him the rehabilitation would be hard, that nothing could be done until he healed, until he was in a more stable condition. Gina watched him like a hawk.

He had thought about ending it all a few times. Their house was next to a quarry. When Joe described the grounds and the pit just beyond the hill, Crispin had to pretend to seem disinterested. He would sometimes lie around and think about the drop. His feet swaying on the very edge, the sharp rocks jutting from the sides and the wonderful deep dark pit below. This was probably what they were waiting for. And he didn’t want to give it to them. This was his.

Crispin turned suddenly, coffee slopping down his front, as he heard the door swing open and slam shut. Joe was standing just outside the door, staring at the line of trees sitting against the mountain.

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"We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown."

- T. S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1917)

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