She smells sickly sweet and as I inhale her perfume a million nostalgic memories come flooding back to me. I hold onto her, resisting the rising temptation I have to cry.
“This is where you belong, honey,” My mother whispers, stroking my hair like she used to.
I step away from her and she gives my hand a small squeeze as my father appears with my cases and closes the front door behind him.
“That’s the last of them,” he says, his face is slightly flushed from the brisk easterly wind.
“Thanks Dad,” I smile.
“Anything for my little angel,” he pulls me into a tight hug before holding me at arm’s length, “so, what did the writer do now?”
I shake my head, I really don’t feel like getting into it.
“If that bastard hurt you…”
“Dad,” I shake my head, my father’s never really liked Yves that much.
“Gil…” My mother gives him her warning glance and he immediately submits, “You don’t have to tell us anything,” she says with a kind smile, “Just know that you can stay here as long as you need.”
I nod, “I think I’m going to lay down for while,” I say.
Entering my old room is strange, the duvet is almost as old as I am and the posters which litter the walls have been there for years, however the girl who used to live in this room is long gone. I wish she wasn’t – her worries about homework and boys would be a blessing right now.
I kick off my shoes and sit on the bed, rubbing my tired eyes when the bedroom door creeps open.
“Roar!” Marcie Hart sneaks in, closing the door behind her and smiles at me warmly, “Hey up big sis.”
“Marcie!” I surprise myself at how pleased I am to see her, “What are you doing here?”
“I was passing…” she sits next to me and hugs me.
“Lies,” I smile, I know mum has called her. When we were younger the only person who could get me to open up about my worries was Marcie. It’s amazing having a sister as your best friend.
“Ok, OK,” Marcie pulls away from me, “I wasn’t passing at all… but, I heard you needed some cheering up so I got the next train out.”
“Thank you,” I say with a small smile.
Marcie Hart is an old soul for her 17 years, she’s ambitious, outspoken and doesn’t give a damn about what anyone thinks.
“So what’s up, what’s happened to you and Yves?”
I shrug, “It’s a long story…”
“So spill it. What have I told you about bottling things up?”
“Eventually the cork will pop…”
It’s weird that I’m the older sister, Marcie has a million times the sense I have.
“We’re on a bit of a break… I guess… I thought he was going to propose, and he didn’t.”
“You want to get married?” Marcie’s brown eyes are wide.
“No,” I exclaim, “Completely the opposite.”
“So, what’s the issue?”
“When he didn’t I was completely relieved. I suppose it made me question our relationship.”
“There’s something else,” Marcie stares into my eyes, “I can feel it.”
I close my eyes and sigh, “You know me too well.”
“I can’t tell you,” I whisper sadly, “It’s work business. It’s confidential.”
Marcie nods, “bummer, and it has to do with this sudden ‘break’ from Yves?”
I raise my eyebrows in acknowledgment, “It’s a massive case. Really taxing, physically and emotionally… Yves doesn’t understand, he’s preoccupied with the fact that I have Rueben as a partner.”
“Oh god, he’s really that insecure?”
“Insecure people like that only end up ruining their own relationship. Too busy worrying about losing what they have that they don’t truly appreciate it.”
I remain silent, is she right? Does Yves not appreciate me?
“Does he love you?” Marcie asks.
“I think so.”
“Not good enough.”
“You should have said ‘Yes’. The fact that you said ‘I think so’ says to me that he doesn’t treat you well enough to make you KNOW he loves you.”
I sigh again, “Marcie… how do you know this shit?”
“It’s my job to know this shit,” she smiles, “I’d be a pretty crappy little sister and wannabe counsellor if I didn’t…”
“You’re counselling me?”
“Nah, just giving you something to think about.”
And think about it I do, all night – as I listen to the branches of the apple tree outside scratching on the window panes. Clawing like some unseen monster hoping to pry it’s way in.
I see midnight, one ‘o clock, two ‘o clock and three ‘o clock pass before I slide out of bed and make my way downstairs.
Not having Yves here is easier on my mental state, but I do miss him. The fact that he’s so oblivious to everything that goes on around him is comforting in some ways. He helps me forget, and now I wonder if I should be at home with him, instead of running away in my confused state – back to mum and dad’s.
Does that make me the child- the immature one? I can’t even handle a proposal – or lack of.
Opening the under stair cupboard I dig out a pair of my mother’s old walking boots and pull my dad’s trench coat off its hook in the hall way.
Slipping it on over my pyjamas I quietly exit the house and walk down the garden path towards the paddock. I need to get away from everything.
The wind has died, it’s still cold enough to penetrate my coat and the thin cotton of my pyjamas, but it’s forgivable and as I shiver I’m thankful that I feel something, I’ve been nothing but numb for days.
I sit on the fence and stare up into the sky, a scattering of small wispy clouds, outer edges illuminated by a waning moon flitter across the nights sky and the twinkling stars play peek-a-boo playfully.
This is what’s real.
I think as I stare into the cosmos, This moment. This. This is what we’re part of. So small, but so significant. Why can’t I feel this way all the time?
I pull the coat tighter around my shivering body.
The night, that’s where I’m at home. In the night. Away from everyone else, just me and nature. This is how I think, how I get it together.
Some people feel like they don’t matter, like their choices, their inclinations mean nothing and have no bearing on the world, especially so when they see the stars in all their infinity.
Not me. I realise we’re all connected. Especially so at the moment.
This case, the abduction of a child – it has influenced the entire police force and has changed them. No doubt it’s influencing their thoughts, their actions in every moment – washing over us all like a plague, slowly demoralising us all and making us weak and weary.
I frown. Which is why we have to find the abductor.
I feel angry, I cling onto the wooden fence and scowl as I feel it’s splinters scratch at my palms. I don’t care. I need to solve this case, the fact that it’s doing this to me is unbearable.
You could be forgiven if you thought I was some sort of depressive moron. Honestly, I’m not. Or maybe I am? I don’t know, I am at this moment, that’s for sure – but normally, well – before this case? I was a happy person. I would have married Yves, I was still a little introverted but now I’m simply downright antisocial. All thanks to this bastard.
I jump, slipping slightly on the fence and scraping my leg on the wood.
“Shit,” I curse, turning to see who is out as late as I am, “Rueben?”
“Are you OK?” he dashes towards me.
“Fine,” I mumble, distinctly aware of my lack of makeup and strange attire.
I jump down from the fence and rub my sore hands on the coat, my calf is hot with throbbing pain.
“What are you doing?” Rueben gets closer and I see a line of stubble on his jaw, he looks exhausted and pale in the moonlight.
I shake my head, “I couldn’t sleep.”
We stand awkwardly for the few moments and I listen to the wind whispering among the trees, somewhere close by a barn howl screeches.
“What are you doing here?” I say finally.
“I like to walk – it clears my head.”
I nod in acknowledgment, feeling that this entire scenario is a little weird.
“I just can’t stop thinking, you know?” Rueben says, “This case is just so… taxing, I’m exhausted.”
“Me too,” I whisper, pulling my father’s coat up around my shoulders and hunching up against the harsh night’s air.
“You can talk to me,” Rueben reaches forward and touches my shoulder, his palm feels warm and comforting through the thin fabric of my attire.
“I know,” I smile at him, “Likewise.”
“Are you busy at the moment, I mean, what are you up to in a week or so?” Rueben asks me.
I search his face with my eyes, “Nothing…”
“My sister is coming to stay,” Rueben explains, “If you want to take your mind off things, you know, the case; Yves…” he pauses, I suppose it must be pretty obvious things aren’t great with me and Yves when I’m currently stood in my mother’s walking boots, father’s coat and sat in the middle of their farm starring at the nights sky.
“Sa sa is sending her stuff over from Sunlit Tides, I’ll need a hand to shift some of her boxes – Only if you’re not busy.”
“No, I’m not busy.” I manage a small smile, helping Rueben will help to take my mind off the case, and whatever it is that’s going on between me and Yves.
“Really? Great!” Rueben smiles and the corners of his eyes crinkle.
I shiver, “OK, well I’m going to go to bed now,” I can’t help but chuckle, this is so strange, seeing my partner outside of work, in the middle of the night, and it all seeming incredibly normal.
Ruben laughs, “Ok May May, nice to see you, even if this is a little weird…”
“It is, right?” I laugh and he joins me.
“I’ll see you Monday?” Rueben smiles kindly.
“Yes, you will.”