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Friday, 8 April 2016

Strange Ideas: Gossip

Continuing with the A to Z Challenge 2016

“I can’t thank you enough.”

Harrison smiled in acknowledgement, sipping the coffee that Emma had insisted he have, letting his gaze roam around her living room at the family photos and assorted knick-knacks that decorated the walls and shelves.

“I only took my eyes off him for a second… he’s a monster when it comes to wandering off.”

Buddy thumped his tail on the floor in agreement, none the worse for his adventure.

“Honestly, it was my pleasure. He looked so frightened- it was the least I could do.” Harrison felt a thrill in how easily the lies came out. “Good job he had a collar and tag on so I could bring him back to you before the kids realised.”

Emma nodded.

“Yes, they’d have been distraught.” She smiled faintly. “It’s been a rough week already.”

Harrison couldn’t help himself. He leaned back in his seat, forcing the question to come out casually. 

“How so?”

Emma paused, clearly unsure as to whether this kind stranger really wanted to hear her problems. Harrison flashed her his gentlest, most understanding smile. She stroked Buddy’s head absent-mindedly.

“Their uncle and aunt died a few days ago.”

Harrison composed his features into a look of sympathetic concern. “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. 
Was it sudden?”

Emma barked a humourless laugh. “You could say that. It was suicide. Well, one of them was.”

“What do you mean?”

“She shot my brother in the stomach and, while he bled to death, turned the gun on herself. Back of the head. Face blown clean off. I found them.”

“Jesus… that must have been…” Harrison struggled to find a suitable word, but couldn’t. “Any idea why?”

“Who knows why she did it. She was messed up- in the head, you know? The press are calling it a suicide pact but I know my brother and he never would have-” Emma shook her head, as if shaking away the image of the scene. “He wouldn’t have agreed to it. Why would he? Everything was perfect as far as he was concerned. He didn’t know about-” She stopped herself, the end of her sentence trailing tantalisingly in the silence.

Harrison bit the inside of his lip to stop the question from jumping out. Best to let her talk. Best to let her think spilling the beans was her own idea. Instead, he nodded encouragingly. She was on the verge of telling him; he just needed to be patient.

He didn’t have to wait long.

“She murdered him.” Emma spat the words out, unable to contain her anger. “No one will listen, but I know the truth. She murdered him because it had gone too far and he’d found out.” Emma raised her chin, defying Harrison to argue. “I know it.”

The story continues tomorrow with Hunger.

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