It took me 10 minutes of sitting in the car with the company of the radio to work up enough courage to go into my house. It might have seemed like a crazy move based on what was going on in my life, but you have to understand what my life was already like before this. If I allowed this to completely derail the little bit of sad joy I squeezed out of being able to live by myself, not have to work a soul-crushing job and usually avoid any kind of social interaction, I may as well have killed myself.
My puzzle was starting to take shape, but I still didn’t have answers. I couldn’t wait for the next question.
The ultimate answer line was starting to take shape, but I wasn’t able to figure it out just quite yet. It was time for another spin of that Wheel of Fortune.
What was Charlie’s favorite movie?
This was strangely easy because it was kind of funny. Charlie loved the Jurassic Park movies, but for some unknown reason, the second one, The Lost World, was his favorite.
That all-important middle line was really starting to take shape, the final answer was on the tip of my tongue and I didn’t like what it seemed to be pushing me to – the thought that Charlie had killed my sister, had probably killed a classmate back in high school and was now creeping around my house and town. And if you think you already know what it is and think I’m an idiot, please spare me the shit slinging and insults. I am a product of the rural public school system and was a career “C- student” at that.
I ignored the last question and tried to figure out the answers while I listened to the sweet song of the birds outside who announced the defeat of a brutal fall night storm and announced the return of the sun. Their song, the light and warmth which came through my bedroom window and the energy of the coffee coursing through my veins put me a little bit at ease for the first time in quite a while.
It shouldn’t have. The world outside may have been a bright, sunny picture, but the world inside my house was still the dark portrait of depression and unease it had been the night before. I was shook from my crossword puzzle when I heard the sound of footsteps softly tread on the carpet outside of my bedroom door.
“We need to talk,” I heard Charlie’s gravelly voice which I hadn’t heard in years through the thin, fake wood of my bedroom door.
I spun my head around and was relieved to see I had locked the bedroom door, but it didn’t matter too much. Charlie could easily break down the flimsy door of destroy the pathetic little push lock in the door handle if he really wanted to.
“Please Hannah. This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.”
I hated how genuine Charlie sounded. It made it really hard to fear him. He just sounded like my older brother who I grew up with. I heard a sob through the door. My icy exterior started to melt as if he had pointed a hair dryer at it on full blast.
“Honestly, I’m scared as shit of you Charlie.”
“I’m scared too,” Charlie could barely get the words out through the tears. “I’ve been living on the street, in abandoned offices and shit for like a year. I’m just ready to come home.”