I would be lifted out of waters to a wide linen stretch. I wasn't quite flanked, the creature was more like behind me. This I wrote in my diary on FEB 28, but we're not there yet.
Valentine's Day came but so did the emergency services. They showed a heavy presence. With very little surviving the fire, no cards or gifts as solid reminders. One or two items were recovered which I allowed my...attention despite badged men wanting so much of it.
Esme had me stay over the way at her place. By the second week of Esme asking the whereabouts of those also on horseback, she knew this may be the only recent thing I did accurately recollect. Esme was our neighbor. My neighbor. Is my...whatever she is.
I slept downstairs alone for the first week. Well...I managed to count all nine red patterns on her ceiling in the dark. I'd slept at Esme's two nights when I heard her coming down the stairs. She seemed to linger at the lounge door, half closed. Yes, lingering at the closed side of the door.
"Tomorrow I've...something I need to tell you, okay? Sleep the best you can. Night" Esme gently hesitated.
07:47 Esme's clock read. My yawn lifted my ranger green shirt, baring my five days untouched by soap chest. I did and did not care about this. Something decency conscious for Esme felt uncomfortable if she was downstairs already.
"Morning Val. I put you some breakfast out." She was all downstairs.
By now I was quarter way starting to recognize Esme's patterns. The words she used and more her footsteps and lingerings. This was...a guilt...trying to hide itself less.
As Esme tied her brunette hair, to my periphery, it dawned on me. Esme's not been round here long...and is mostly not home. Esme may not have recognized Celeste.
“Morning. You eaten your breakfast, Esme?”
“Yes” Esme tried again to make her into a bobble.
There was a certain stop and start to whatever was between us. As if despite Esme’s polite kindness we didn’t really know when best to figure each other out.
“Sorry, can you?” Esme struggled, her blue bobble round her fingers.
I got up quickly, peeling myself from the sofa. Esme stood in front of a small narrow mirror I’d yet to notice.
With slight shyness and back to me, Esme stretched the bobble long from her fingers ‘til it dropped into my palm. Most of her hair strands pulled into position in her right hand.
“After this we’ll talk” I winked a slightly sad smile.
"It won't stay for some reason this morning, huh" Esme shook her head, pulsing a polite laugh.
"Cel's hair used to get so frizzy and tangled before it was ready. Do you want it quite tight? With longer hair through?" I asked quickly, stretching Esme's yellow bobble over my fingers.
So soon after my wife's passing, was this standard? A little too intimate? It was a simple practical upkeep. Something I could do which should take a quick minute. I think we both understood this.
"What do you remember about Celeste?" Esme asked. Most of her caucasian frame covered by blouse deep brown, blending at the mirror's wood.
"Is this too tight?" I subtly asked, sliding the bobble through her very many strands.
"No no" Esme quickly spoke, without shaking her head.
"It was her voice. The way she would linger which first got me, honestly." I stopped, dropping my chin and looked to her diner table.
"Thanks for your...kindness. I'm not hungry." I took one soft triangle of buttered toast. My eyes raising to Esme. Taking a bite and forcing myself to chew I left the rooms.
I looked over nearer the wreckage where stripe uniforms and helmets were still surveying the damage. I ducked to sit in the passenger seat.
"Yeah it's err safer I tell you in my car. Okay" Esme huffed, turning the engine on. "So here's what I wanted to tell you. I...shot a black woman the night you asked me to stay with Celeste. But the black woman was not your wife. Your wife's been kidnapped and is possibly still alive. All I do know...she was being held hostage by the masked terrorists who broke in."
"What!" I took a moment and closed my eyes.
"You're only telling me this now? What about the funeral?" I sighed to monotone, my eyes opening in the plausible realistic indignation of it all. "None of this makes sense, Esme."
"Terrorists broke in. I could detail most of the crime to you. But I don't want to recall it. I'm sorry this is happening at all. I don't know if Celeste is still alive or her whereabouts."
"You're telling me some black woman just happened to walk by and what say, 'Oh, pick me masked men!'" All at the same time as Celeste was about to be killed!"
"Ugh err kind of." Esme deliberated over explanations.
She shot her face back against her headrest. I could only guess frustrating over re-enactments.
"What ransom are they wanting? Did...they torch our place?" my anger dialed down a fraction.
"I don't know all the facts and suspects, Val" Esme's tone asserted plausibility.
I blew out from my mouth, shaking my yawning eyes. Now what?
"You know what. I think I need to puke" I opened her car door and trunched the first few leaves on the ground.
Esme shut her door loudly, her footsteps rushing.
I coughed and sputtered as my stomach lunged. Something came out of my mouth, leaving a saliva string dripping from my lips . Whatever it was, it wasn't much sick or much blood colored now on the leaves.
Esme stopped rushing. I looked up to her, palms on my thighs, my abdomen bent from my waist down.
I stretched back up, trying for an eighty-twenty balance. Celeste would need me to be a safe presence. It was looking like twenty to level me in relief and eighty for adrenaline.
"God so help me now!" I shouted whilst pacing in front of the bonnet.
The driver's door slamming, the engine still on.
"Can you drive?" Esme rushed and ducked into her passenger seat.
"Passed first time just don't own a car" I revved, my hands on the wheel.
I slowed my reactivities, deepening and pacing my nervous system. Before I would push any gearstick I wanted to center myself more.
I tapped two fingers and my thumb gently on the wheel. "Three questions."
"Have you told anyone else what you've now told me?" I looked into the rear-view mirror.
"No one" Esme squeezed her face.
"Did you tell me because you care about my wife's safety? Or because you don't want the police finding you, Esme?"
The lumps round my mouth felt wet to my wrist before I pushed gently on clutch and foot peddle.
"Your third question?" Esme asked as I leaned closer to the wheel.