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Monday, May 18, 2015

A Terrible Way to End a Life-Part 2

A wet wind whistles through pines and between concrete monoliths as Lizzie stumbles through the storm.

Each step slaps unintentionally sharp against the holey metal stairs as she makes her way to the fifth floor.  The sky trickles now, spent.  Apartment number 576 pulses in tune to the latest house music, soothingly festive but not to her ears.  Three knocks rap.  One knock heard.  A shuffling within and a sticky pop as the door strains against its rusted chain.  "Oh heyyyy, Liz.  Why are you back?  I thought you were supposed to be at the library with Jack until midnight for that test tomorrow."
Two blank blinks given.  "He didn't show.  I suppose that your boyfriend doesn't have the same respect for my time as you do."  The subtly disheveled woman peeking through the door shakes her head.  "Well I'm sorry about that, sweetie, but, you see, I made plans for tonight since you said you'd be out.  Can't you just find something else to do for a little while until we're done?"  Lizzie leans against the entryway, in part to catch her breath, but mostly to see who else is in their apartment.  Something flickers on the edge of her vision, something that chills what the storm left dry, but it remains only a vision as the woman in the door leans out.  Nothing and no one of importance is seen.
Realizing that no more can be accomplished with her fast fading willpower, Lizzie sighs.  "Alright, Carol.  I'll be back by nine.  Make sure he is gone by then.  And for goodness' sake, turn the coffee pot off or you will burn the place down, again."  Carol rushes forward, embracing her soggy friend.  "You're the best, Liz!  I'll see you at midnight."
One lightning retreat.
One heavy wooden squish.
One million regrets, boiling beneath a murky but serene ocean of self-doubt.    

Breathing the clean earth from atop a picnic table near the western parking garage, Lizzie recalls the card from Ms. Holloway.  Written within are a series of numbers connected by dashes, two groups of three, one four,  and a single word: NEMSES.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Terrible Way to End a Life-Part 1

Lizzie sighs at her coffee despondently as the cafe door slams shut, followed by her phone on a darkly polished table near the back.  She knew what would happen, predicted it to him, and asked that the whole matter be resolved hours ago with a simple no but she could never say no to him.  "You're the best at matrices, Liz.  I need you.  Nothing can keep me from studying with you tonight.", his promises now as hollow as the cup within her hands.  A group of athletes stroll through the aisle towards the cashier's line, laughing and hanging on to each others shoulders, discussing the latest victory.  They look so open, so free.  It is late. 

As Lizzie reaches for the dinged phone in preparation for her walk back home, one of the more boisterous women breaks away from the waiting group and plops herself down in the chair before Lizzie.  "Why so glum?  Is it because it's raining?  Rain is such a downer sometimes.  I remember my cousin telling me one time, she's a Psych major, you know, about how some people get super sad just because it's raining and it's not even their fault.  It's like emotional allergies or something.  Anyway, my name's Britney Holloway.", she bubbles.  Lizzie turns her head towards the water, pouring like a hose from heaven against the window.  "Seasonal depression?  No, that isn't me, at least I don't think it is.  I've always liked the rain.  It makes everything new again."  A brief but comfortable pause settles through the atmosphere between the two women, only to be jarred by the friendly hoots of a pleasantly impatient group.  "You should go, Miss Holloway.  I am certain you have better things to do.  Thank you for talking with me."

A look of tearing decision crosses Britney's perfectly smooth face, her blond curls bouncing slightly as she turns away, then back again to press a business card into Lizzie's soft palm.  "Listen.  I know this'll sound weird, but I promise it'll make sense sooner or later.  When it does, give us a call."
Lizzie quietly pockets the card without a glance.

A wet wind whistles through pines and between concrete monoliths as Lizzie stumbles through the storm.