Monday, August 6, 2012

Eight Months

And no word from me.

I am so very hard on my friends, aren't I?

A month after my last blog post, Zeke Strahm died in a basement.

 It's common knowledge by now. What isn't common knowledge is that Mary called me first, even as she was making the post to tell everyone else. No one broke the news to me but her.

We held a memorial service shortly after. I think it was shortly after. I don't think anybody was sure why I was there. Zeke's father was there. His family. Fellow policemen that he'd worked with. Mary. And me.

I don't remember how he sidled up to me, but I knew who he was almost immediately. Who else would it be?

"I'm deeply sorry for your loss, Miss McLachlan," he said, his voice all proper grief.

"Thank you. But you don't have to pretend you are," I said. I was in no state for diplomacy.

"Oh, but I am. I hear from my agents that this has been a terrible ordeal for you."

I didn't look at him. Felt like I would be sick if I did. I kept my eyes on the altar.

"I haven't done anything," I finally said. "I'm going to school, I'm staying there --"

"And you've even got yourself a young man, I've heard," he said. "I would very much like to see you succeed and move past this, Miss McLachlan. I wouldn't want you to get into any more trouble. You've lost so many people in your life already."

The grease in his voice almost covered up the threat.

"You're not going to make any more trouble, are you?"

There was a long, silent moment. But something in my chest just felt this pain. My shoulders were hunched, even though I haven't slouched regularly since coming to school. My muscles hurt and my eyes struggled just to stay open. My heart felt like a hole. My armor was dented and scratched, and now my breastplate had finally caved in.

And so after a long, slow, shaking breath, I finally gave a tiny, weak shake of my head. "No."

"I knew you'd make the right decision. You are such a bright young lady. Again, my condolences, Miss McLachlan."

Richard Fisk slid away as silently as he had come up. I don't know if I even felt any better for his leaving. 

And we put a marker in the earth where his body would have been buried. A defiant little headstone attesting beyond a doubt that this man -- this crazy, stubborn, brave, cold, mean, loving, brilliant man -- existed. That he couldn't be erased so easily.

It wasn't until after most of them had left the service that the cold front moved in on the area, and the feet of the few left, of Mary and Soren and me, were covered in swirling, shifting fog. A light rain had begun to fall by the time Soren could get me back into the car. No matter how much I couldn't see it, time went on.

So why haven't I been back here? I had a hard time after that. School became my crutch, and I've studied like I've never studied before. Maybe it was just that I wanted to move on. Put on blinders and just go forward, for once. Maybe I was too upset to come back. Even reading through my old blog, I start to feel that same pain in my chest. Maybe it was Fisk's threat; the last thing I want is for more people to get hurt because of me.

But I've been keeping so many things unsaid. There's so much kept in and it's starting to boil over. Questions. Answers. Secrets. Things I said and shouldn't have. Things I never said that I won't ever get to.

I need to say them, even if they're hard. Even if I feel sick and my heart feels about to burst. Even when my hands are shaking and I can't see the screen through tears. I just need to say them. And I need them to be heard.

I need you, if you're still there. I've needed you all along.