Chapter 14 low down
The second I slammed my front door shut I called out “Nanny!”
She shuffled around the corner calmly until she caught sight of me. I must have looked deranged. As soon as Sophie pulled up and I noticed the absence of Ryan’s car I confirmed my worries that something had happened to him. I knew that, it was normal for boyfriends and girlfriends not to be around each other every waking hour of the day but I knew something was wrong.
“Have you heard from Ryan today?” I asked, shaking with little sobs as I thought about him. Nanny took my hands in hers and looked worried. Sabre padded around the corner and sat at my feet.
“No, honey he’s been at work hasn’t he? Why didn’t he come over today? Have you had a fight? What’s happened?”
“No, I ran into Emily at the mall today...she said – she said something about Ryan, she knew that he left me daisies this morning. Do you think she might have him? Does he come round everyday for tea...are you sure it’s every day?”
Nanny looked worried the moment Emily’s name was said. There was something about her she wasn’t telling me.
“It’s been every day since you were five years old!” she exclaimed “Let’s not blame Emily...she may have been warning you” Nanny read my expression and hastened to change the subject “Let’s check he is not at home before we worry ourselves further.” She shuffled her feet over to the phone that was propped up on the side of the book shelf. I took out my phone in a daze, pressing the button until Ryan’s mobile number displayed itself. I pressed call and waited as the monotonous sound drowned in my ears. With each ring, my heart sank deeper and deeper into my stomach and my eyes stung with tears.
Maybe you’re overreacting my mind sighed. My mother was in agreement to this.
Tomorrow, check if he is at his house...then go to the desert. If he isn’t in either of those places, he may already be at work.
I knew my mother was right, I told Nanny to call it quits and stormed upstairs to have the discussion I really wanted to have with my mother. Sabre followed me, his tail wagging.
You need to give me to low down on Emily right now.
Ryan is fine Olivia; there is no need to go to war over him.
Was it not your intention for me to kill her anyway?
Not over this.
Mom – if any harm has come to Ryan and she is to blame. I will kill her over this.
I didn’t know where my courage was coming from, or my intention to inflict harm onto someone else. It contradicted everything I thought when my mother had asked me to kill Emily the first time. I was standing in my bedroom, staring at the picture of my mother stuck to my sloping wall. I thought it may be easier to concentrate but I found myself imagining what Emily was doing to Ryan, and then I had to start to calming process all over again.
Pay attention. My mother began. As your memories have some blanks I’ll fill these first. As you know, I was a nurse. But not the usual type at a normal hospital, I looked after troubled children. Before Emily came to your high school she had been in my ward at the specialist hospital, Greenings, where I worked.
I saw in my own thoughts, the building with a green and gold placard and in italic writing were the words:
Greenings specialist hospital
Emily was a very troubled child. Her mother, at the time my enemy, disliked me attending to her daughter and made several attempts to switch Emily from my ward but there just wasn’t room for switching.
In my mother’s thoughts I saw Emily has a child, disrupting the sessions, drawing on the walls – drawing obscene images, swearing and generally making herself a nuisance. Whenever my mother had disciplined her that same dark hate would fill her eyes and her lips would pull together. She was truly frightening.
Emily would draw pictures of her parents holding knives, covered in blood. I was very concerned as the picture grew more violent.
Mom graced me with a mental image of some of these pictures, mess of blood and knifes. I heard myself gasp out loud and then made myself concentrate. My eyes were closed, and the conversation in my head continued. Sabre remained immobile at my side.
I questioned Emily about the pictures. She told me that “her daddy would get mad” and then would refuse to speak again. So, I went to their house, and the father – a rude brutish man denied me the chance to talk to Emily’s mother Caroline. He made shady excuses, and being surrounded by naughty children had taught me to tell one someone is lying. When he slammed the door in my face, I went around to the back garden.
What happened next? My mother had stopped talking after this part and I was intrigued to find out what she found. I could hear birds in the trees louder than I ever had in my bedroom, and there was a cool breeze as if I were outside and when I opened my eyes I was just outside Silvanus woods. I didn’t know how it happened, the tall green trees loomed above me and beneath my feet was the soft, rich soil. My feet started to move, and I realised I was crouching, hiding underneath a window, on the side of a house. The sound of clattering plates and muffled groans of a man could be heard through the rough, red brick.
My feet shuffled forward as I kept my head bent and my light brown hair; suddenly shoulder length obscured my view of the back garden - which was laden with autumn leaves, broken buckets and an abandoned lawn mower. I moved forward, until I stood up and advanced, taking long strides until I reached the back shed. The mouldy door was shut and my hand stretched out without hesitation to grasp the handle. It didn’t move, the rust coming apart and burning my hands. I peered through the window, which was fogged and draped in spider’s webs. Garden tools and boxes of Christmas decorations lay on the floor and hung from the walls, and then my eyes fixed on something else, it was a peachy colour, with a flower stuck to the front. It extended from a pale foot, and my eyes followed up the thin leg that lay uncovered. A human leg.
“Hey!” an angry male voice bellowed. A man was leaning from the window up in the house. His hair and eyes were that similar black to his daughters. My heart started to race in my chest as my feet pivoted and I leapt back into the forest and out. My feet tripped on branches and lumps of soil and I could hear the men’s bellows from behind me.
Get home. Was my thought but my eyes couldn’t erase what they had seen. - The body that lay in the shed. Poor, Caroline. Another image continued to replay itself. It was the same over and over and it was of the back of the house, when Emily’s father had leaned out. The pale profile of Emily as she watched me from her bedroom, her reaction to her father’s cries and my own shock had unfazed her. She must already know. My mental pictures swivelled back to Emily’s drawings and everything began to make sense.
The moment my childhood house was in view, the sun, the cool breeze and the angry growls of Emily’s father had gone. The smell of lavender whooshed through my nose and I was standing in my bedroom once more.
Emily’s father was the only family that Emily had. To protect him, I had to remain quiet. She stopped coming to the hospital, but I often saw her outside our house. She would stand behind a tree and watch us and whenever I would go out to her she would run away. This continued for months.
New images popped behind my eyes, brief sights of Emily shrinking into the shade of a tree, and I was reminded of how she recoiled to the shadows at the mall. I licked my lips and shifted my weight. I had been standing still a while, I was thankful that Nanny had gone outside and didn’t need me for anything.
The fire that burnt down our house and took our lives... My mother’s voice was grave as she spoke, and I braced myself for information that would substantiate my decision to kill Emily as soon as possible. ...started in the living room, where the patio doors had been open. Branches from the woods had been decorated aflame on our sofas, the tables, everything. In the middle of our dining room table was the picture of a house on fire. We saw it just as the fire became too great and there was no way for us to get out. We knew that you were safe, you were with Ryan.
My closed eyes began to leak with tears and I could feel the strain in my neck as I tried to hold in sobs. I took deep breaths and made myself focus. Why would she take Ryan?
Emily was a troubled child. She was overly jealous and angry. It all came from having parents who were much the same. She attacked you because of what I found out. She feared that you knew and you would expose her family secret.
Why not get rid of me earlier?
I don’t have the answers to everything, Olivia.
I heard myself sigh what happened to her father?
She replied with a similar answer to my first question and then I couldn’t hear her anymore. I opened my eyes and was filled with determination and drive. I pivoted on my heels and ran back out of my bedroom, feeling less helpless and more eager to find the answers I needed to, to help Ryan and relieve myself of Emily’s grudge.