Marie checked herself out of hospital after too few days. She was bored and frustrated with everything around her from the plastic coated sympathy of the nurses to the few awkward visits she had received from her fellow police officers. So she decided to go home, so that she could think and plan.
Unfortunately her wounds had not healed. As she dressed, and even more so later as she walked, the thin scabs of the many stab wounds across her back and arms would rub against the material of her clothes and she could feel the fabric begin to cling to her with the grim dotting of blood stains.
Marie ached all over, not just where she had been stabbed but everywhere. She was bruised from the attack and felt belittled by its ferocity. And the worst thing was, she told herself over and over, that she hadn’t seen it coming.
She should have known, she should have seen. Or so she argued to herself.
It didn’t matter to her that everyone else told her that she couldn’t have predicted the attack. It didn’t matter that he had been under the influence of a brain altering mechanism. She had seen him coming and she should have seen the danger in his eyes. Had she begun to see him so little? Had she got so slow and complacent?
As she reached the door to her flat she paused. The door to his flat door, which was opposite hers, was closed to her forever now. It accused her, standing as it did all firm and locked up. She could almost hear the scream of the void on the other side. He wouldn’t be coming back, the fish had done irreparable damage to his brain, and to a great extent he wasn’t really there anymore anyway. And it was her fault. Or at least, it was her responsibility.
Marie sighed. She pulled her own flat key from her coat pocket and was just about to insert it in the lock when the door flowed open before her. Her heart started jumping wildly in her chest and she felt dizzy. An instant of panic widened her eyes and her head pulsed with the pain of frustrated control.
Before she could actively think what to do next she had stepped mechanically into the room. Then she stopped, half turned to flee, an anger rising through her from her gut to her grinding teeth.
A man stood with her back to the door, oblivious to her presence, unsensing of her anger.
Marie noticed a couple of things almost simultaneously. The first was that the intruder appeared to be feeding her fish – not the most obvious occupation for a criminal with malicious intent. The second was that the shape of the back, the way the shoulders were hunched high into the neck and the faint ripples of muscles stretched the fabric of his shirt, was achingly familiar to her. She slumped a little, letting out her held breath.
She wasn’t sure whether this was worse than she had initially imagined.
“Jon?” she asked in a voice weak with emotion.
The man turned and she saw that she was right. It was her ex husband, in the flesh, looking slightly greyer than she usually pictured him, older and more tired. He said nothing, appraising her in return. She avoided his face and instinctively started looking around and about the apartment, knowing that something was missing. Too hurt and tired to be hopeful.
“Where’s Toby?” she asked finally, watching his face now as a wave of emotion swept across his features. This didn’t look good. Marie felt for the door handle, using the cold metal as a crutch.
Jon looked down at his feet, a crimson flush spreading over his white face. “Our son is missing.” he muttered quickly.
Marie felt the world ripple underneath her feet. A veil of ivory lace fell across her sight. She decided that she should sit down.