New York. Midnight. A deserted alleyway. Well, typical. What other place to meet him?
It was a similar alleyway in which I had met him for the first time many, many years ago. So many that I couldn’t quite recall when it had happened exactly. But, strangely, I remembered every little element of that night. The dripping water from the burst pipe beside my foot, the girl lying flat on the cold asphalt ground, and the man. The man standing quietly just outside the ring of lamplight that was the only source of yellow illuminating the deserted street. That was where it all began. And in a spiral of events of which I had no true control all these years I had ended up back here. In another alleyway, granted, but the memories of all those years ago were flooding my mind like a growing storm. Brutal, painful memories.
I hadn’t seen Thomas for twenty years. During this time something overwhelming had been plaguing me, scorching me until I couldn’t stay silent any longer. If he couldn’t make the first move, I would.
“I’m sorry about Emily.” That was Thomas.
I replied, “Yes. Me, too.”
Was that what he normally sounded like? I couldn’t remember. Did I normally sound like that? “Yes, me too.” How strange.
“No, don’t.” His voice was like acid, but his eyes betrayed nothing. And that smile. That crooked, thin-lipped smile. I stared at it, watching the crookedness as it faded, replaced by a solid wall through which I could see nothing.
Emily had died in a car accident exactly twenty years ago today. The police had found nothing peculiar at the site. A cliff, a broken fence and a crumpled car with a beautiful but very dead woman hedged between the wet rocks beneath. They told me it was usual in that area. A drunk night, rain, turning the corner at such a speed…she would have never made it. All very ordinary indeed. But I - I knew she had died under some very suspicious circumstances.
Thomas shifted uneasily, looking at me. His eyes looked black at that angle, and it made his whole figure that much more intimidating.
“I know you loved her, Ned.”
“I know you did, too, Tom.”
Well. A start at least. But somehow I didn’t feel any closer to the answer I so desperately wanted to hear. More so, an answer I’d wanted to hear throughout those long, dark, cold twenty years.
Writing order: WeiJia, Anna Zhigareva, WeiJia, Angela Shaw Ray Stone, Anna Zhigareva, Iliena Bosu, Azadeh Nafissi, Suraya, Leif Rennes