Tag Archives: mystery

Unremembered (Part 9)

 

I was drunk, one of the times – maybe all of the times – Lily arrived home. Mostly she’d mumble a hello, flash me a smile, and head right for the bathroom as I stay sprawled out on the living room couch, staring at the muted television. At some point we’d fall into bed together, and the next morning she’d clean up the empty bottles on the coffee table without a word.

It was over a quiet breakfast one morning that I finally asked her. I was stirring sugar into my coffee and she was reading a magazine, her long hair tied back so I could see one delicate side of her face. She looked as she always did: relaxed, thinking only of a Sunday morning in our kitchen and nothing else. I cleared my throat first but she didn’t look up.

“You know, I’ve always respected your need for privacy,” I started. She looked up now, her face unmoving. She took a sip of her coffee and closed the magazine. “Mmm,” she said. She placed her chin on her fists, ready to listen.

“Well,” I took a napkin from the table and crumpled it in my fist. “I don’t ask. I’ve never asked where you go when you leave. But I really think it’s time you told me.” I tried for soft, yet forceful. I needed to know this time.

She sighed, leaned back in her chair and stretched, preparing for something. She gave me a half smile and folded her hands on the table. “You know I love you, Matt.”

I nodded. I knew this, but did it matter now?

“It depends, really. On how I’m feeling, what’s happening here. I just sort of get in the car and drive.”

I felt a pang of jealousy, maybe anger, pass behind my ribcage. While I was left with nothing but my own guessed scenarios, Lily was flipping a coin to see where she’d most like to gain some new perspective. Suddenly it dawned on me, how damaging her disappearances had become. At first I thought allowing her some distance would bring us closer together, but now, when she came back home she never really came back – some part of her was left out there, wherever she went to reflect, without me.

“Why?” That single, heavy word was all I could muster now. Even at my worst I never imagined a day without Lily in it. So why then was it so easy for her to leave me?

She stared at her hands for a while, then stood up and moved behind me, draping her thin arms around my shoulders, laying her hands on my chest. I felt her lips on my cheek and closed my eyes.

“There’s nothing to worry about,” she whispered. “Can’t that be enough?”

I went limp at the warm touch of her breath, and once again fell into the pit of her vagueness. With her, at best I have always been a pathetic, gullible child.

**

I ticked off five more days of no Lily that week, and every afternoon I found myself at the bar where I kissed Jamie waiting for her to turn up. I wanted to ask her what she knew, why Lily hadn’t come back this time, if Jamie had told her about our kiss; I wanted to shake her, too, for telling the police that Lily had chosen to disappear before. How would anyone believe that this time was different? This time, the darkness in my chest knew she didn’t choose it.

 

******

If you’re just now joining in on this series, start here and click through to get caught up!

I hope you enjoy this (slow moving) series. 🙂

– Nicole Marie

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Unremembered (Part 8)

 

Just now joining the Unremembered party (or need a refresher)? Click here to start from the beginning, then follow the link at the bottom to part 2, etc. And don’t forget to watch out for more installments!

***

 

I didn’t hear the ringing at first, my head was buried so far beneath a tower of pillows in an attempt to stop the spinning in my brain. My skull ached with regret as I replayed the kiss I’d planted on Jamie the night before.

The caller didn’t let up. I fought my way out of the tangled sheets and somehow made it onto my feet and to the phone on the dresser. He was clearing his throat as I picked up.

“Hey, Detective Mills,” I started.

“Mr. Hamilton. How are you?”

His usual, pointless greeting. I stood up a little straighter, waiting to hear what “incriminating” evidence he’d found while tearing apart our home. A lock of hair? A mysterious foot print? A kitchen knife that looked a little too dull?

Then my mind flickered to the person who claimed to know what happened to my wife, and suddenly my knees were made of jelly because I couldn’t believe that in all my scrambled thinking and the hurricane that had recently become my life that I had somehow tucked away the single most important piece of I don’t know what, and right then I was angry, so very angry that Detective Mills had failed to mention more past a single obscure phone call just before he accused me of murdering Lily. And now that it had all flooded back in my heart was sinking and so was I, right back to the floor like the first time.

I think he sensed it, knew all the questions that had just now started seething from my chest. We were both silent, for minutes, I think.

“That other person,” I started, choking on the rest of the words.

“I was beginning to wonder why you weren’t more curious about that,” he said. The calm in his voice sent a warning jolt through my stomach.

“I guess it fell to the bottom of my priority list once you asked me if I killed my wife.” My mouth was a desert.

“She claimed to be a friend of Lily’s, went to college with her. Really pretty girl, a blonde. She said this isn’t the first time Lily’s gone missing, and probably won’t be the last. I thought it was a little strange but her story didn’t really lead anywhere, so we tossed it.”

Jamie. I muttered a thanks, a goodbye, placed the phone on the receiver and threw up in our clothes hamper.

***

Continue reading here with Part 9.

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Unremembered (Part 5)

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Like the day Lily disappeared, I lost all the in between moments of my consciousness – putting on my shoes, getting in the car, driving to the police station. In my mind I’d gone from phone call to bland interrogation room, the fluorescent lighting overhead making my eyes squint. The only two chairs reminded me of the scratchy waiting room kind one would find in a doctor’s office; I sat in one, Detective Mills sat in the other. He folded his hands on the table and stared at a spot on the wall behind my shoulder for a while.

I shifted uncomfortably, like a criminal. Was I about to be accused of something, or told my wife was dead? I bit my lip to avoid asking where other person was, the one who said they knew what happened to her. Finally, Mills opened his mouth and darkness came out.

“Mr. Hamilton, did you kill your wife?”

I blinked several times, trying to remove the spots that had formed in front of my eyes. The small interrogation room had suddenly become a runaway carousel and I gripped the arms of my chair to keep from falling off. I said nothing although my jaw hung loose with shock. If I cried, banged my fists on the table, fell to my knees in despair, would it matter? Like an innocent man accused of rape or abuse, once the accusations take flight he is doomed, forever – guilty or not. The scowls and whispers become infinite. Unless Lily walked into the room right then, Detective Mills had already dubbed me guilty of murder; but I had to defend myself, with whatever piece of soul I had left.

I cleared my throat, raised my eyes to his. “No,” I said, calm, direct. No fireworks, just truth.

“Would you mind if we took a look around your home?”

The invasion had begun.

***

Click here for Part 6.

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Unremembered (Part 1)

 

Lily went missing on a Sunday, the day of rest. On Sundays we’d drape ourselves on tables and chairs around the house, drinking coffee from mugs adorned with our alma maters, cooking luxurious pasta dishes even though we rarely dined in (she could burn boiling water, I could barely make condensed soup), if only to match the hushed euphoria of the neighborhood that came with the sinking of the sun; stress was set out with Monday morning’s clothes, and on those evenings our cul-de-sac glowed with golden lamplight and blue-hued television screens. By dawn we were always heavy in sleep, a tangle of limbs and breath, a lasagna still cooling on the kitchen counter.

We were always together those days, except the day she disappeared. The weather was a Summer tease in early Spring – the first week of April and seventy degrees, a baking sun – and Lily wanted to take advantage with a jog.

“It’ll bring out those awful freckles on my shoulders, the ones you love so much,” she’d said with a laugh.

Her laughter was always so strangely appealing, like the blocky music that churned out of a Jack-in-the-box; it excited you, even if you already knew what to expect. She was a constant of beautiful predictability. So when she hadn’t come home by three I felt the knot in my stomach pick itself up, twisting slowly at first with caution, worry.

By four I was worrying a trail in our galley kitchen’s floor.

At six I was roaming the trails near our house like a tourist, arms stretched out in front of me as if it might get me to her sooner. I called her name until my throat felt like sandpaper and the trees began to taunt me. By eight I was somewhere deep in dirt and foliage, my head between my knees. I wailed and darkness swallowed me.

When I woke the curtains were tightly drawn. Days could have passed. I stretched my arms out over my head and sighed, my eyes barely open before the remembering began. Lily, the woods, the faceless jogger who’d found me flailing helplessly in a clearing, alone. Somehow I’d gotten home, and the procession of worried family and friends had begun; then there was an officer on our couch, drinking coffee from Lily’s mug. Somehow I’d ended up in bed.

This was the start of day two without her.

My legs felt like lead as they hit the floor, and suddenly the guilt that I’d fallen asleep while my wife was missing washed over me. It was pure exhaustion, at least. My insides remained frantic. Downstairs my parents and hers were perched around the living room. Each head turned my way as I walked in; every eye was ringed in bright red. They said nothing, and looked away. It was all I needed to feel the blame that floated towards me past the coffee table. Not even my own mother got up. Mechanically I took to a chair in a corner and fell into it, fading into the wedding photos that hung slightly crooked, slightly dusty, behind me.

We’d met three years prior, in a place most don’t head to looking for anything bathed in solidity; the bar was poorly lit, as most are, making everyone beautiful even before the blurred lines that come with drinking whiskey. I’d noticed Lily first, the way her face maintained a sort of ethereal glow even in the darkness of the room, as if a candle were being held below her chin. I saw a flicker in her eyes as she laughed in that way that made me joyously anxious. When she noticed me watching her she paused for a moment, then smiled and lifted her martini glass in an airy cheers. I raised mine in unison and began to weave through heavy waves of shoulders and conversation to the other side of the bar. When I’d made my way to her we clinked glasses and drank.

“Matt,” I said, smoothing my tie with one hand.

“Lily.” Her name fell from her lips like snow.

 

***

This is Part 1 of a I-don’t-know-how-many-parts-there-will-be short (maybe) story. It came to me in my second glass of vino last night, and demanded I give it life. I hope you’ll follow along as I make more installments here and there!

Click here for Part 2!

 

 

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