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The Missing Puzzle Piece and the Power of Love
Tuesday, June 10th, day 10
Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land and his people.
A cold, wet tongue slipped over my face.
I flicked open my eyes, and stabbing spears of light poked my eyes through the open window.
My head was in a vise. Any movement caused it to squeeze unbearably. My mouth tasted like dirty socks and the burnt apple pie my aunt Girdie had made that Mom forced us to eat. I turned myself over and threw up violently all over the carpet. What was I doing here, and why did I feel like I was going to die? Trying to work past the agony in my head, I forced myself to try and remember. All I could recall was pain… What had happened? not thinking, I rolled over onto my stomach and was met by what felt like a shocking blow to the head, and the crunch of a glass bottle of Famous Grouse.
I curled myself into a ball and forced myself to go back to sleep.
Wednesday, June 11th, day 11
Okay, so either I didn’t sleep at all or I slept an entire day. The sun streamed in at the exact same angle it had been at what seemed like only minutes ago. Since the sun didn’t hurt anymore, and neither did my head, I decided on the entire day theory.
Cautiously, I propped myself up on one elbow. My room stayed in place. From the wooden bookshelves to the balcony, and the big hairy dog at the foot of the bed.
Wait a minute, my room?
A quick scope of the premises revealed my answer: Monica dozing on the sofa at the far end of the room. “Monica?” I asked.
With a small snort she woke up. “Oh, Mary. You’re awake. How you doing?”
I stared at her. “What are you doing here?”
Her face reddened. “I found you on the floor yesterday after I, um, woke up.”
My clothes were rumpled and my breath stunk. I felt awful. This was how Monica woke up most days of her life? I remembered a brief flash of thinking that it was awesome. Wow. I must have been really, really drunk.
I sniffed the glass of water Monica offered me before I took a sip.
“So how’d you like your first fifty shots of scotch?” Monica asked conversationally. “It’s amazing, isn’t it?”
I frowned. Maybe she was from a different planet than I was. “It was not. I feel like I slept out on the curb all day! If you think that’s amazing, you’ve got standards lower than the ground!” Trying to ignore the slight queasiness in my stomach, I marched into the bathroom.
This had to be number one on my ever-growing list of things I never wanted to do ever again. I would rather live on a subway for the rest of my life than get drunk again. My reflection in the mirror was sallow, like I hadn’t bathed in weeks. I brushed my teeth, furiously, trying to get the taste out of my mouth. After five rinses, it didn’t feel much cleaner. So much for that. I jumped in the shower.
The cool water cleared my mind. With my face to the spray, I went over what I could remember about two nights ago. My unsolicited drinking aside, it had been a terrible day. My date with Julius had been a bust, the Poet hadn’t met me after all. The prickly feeling of being watched crawled along my neck. All bravery I had felt before melted. I didn’t care about catching the Poet, I just wanted to stay alive. A tear slipped down my cheek, mingling with the shower water. Why had I been so convinced I could do this? I was a cowered, a girl who rarely had to think for herself. I wrapped a towel around my head and went back to my room. I stared at the poem for a long time before I picked up my phone. the private detective I’m not supposed to name didn’t pick up so I left a message.
“Hi, Detective, this is Hanuara, and I think I might have some vital information on my brother’s case…”
Thursday, June 12th, day 12
My mother and father hugged me fiercely, so hard I wanted to squirm away. “Oh, baby, I’m so sorry this had to happen to you. This was supposed to be your vacation, sweetie.” With tears in her eyes, she looked at me.
Yeah right, I thought, pulling away. being sent somewhere against your will does not count as a vacation. But I was glad my mother was here. it had taken her a day to make preparations, and then she had appeared on Monica’s doorstep two seconds ago, with two strange men in black. Our house was surrounded with squad cars, and media practically knocking down our door. It was the mob scene I had predicted when I decided to turn in the note.
“He was in my room, Mom,” I said, barely keeping the quiver out of my voice.
“I know. But go get your sister, hon, its time we had a talk.”
My eyes narrowed. At the foot of the stairs, I cupped my hand around my mouth and hollered, “MONICA! GET DOWN HERE MOM WANTS YOU!!!”
“I could have done that myself, Hanna.” My mother frowned.
I shrugged, turning around to hide my smile.
Once we were all seated around the table, my mother was no longer my mother but a lawyer getting down to business. “I’d like to start off by saying that I’m glad my babies are all right, but I’d like to stress that it could’ve easily turned out another way. as you all know, we have a cold-blooded killer on our hands. He’s ruthless, and seemingly evasive. That said, I will not have you unprotected. Monica, Hanuara, from now on when you go out you will be accompanied by a trained chaperone.” She motioned to the men in black. Their faces stayed expressionless, and they acknowledged her with a mere nod. “Is that understood?”
I rose to my feet. “Why? Mom, that’s not fair! We agreed on this last time. Are you saying this guy are going to follow me around? Well what if I don’t want to be stalked by creepy men in black? No offence, guys,” I added.
“This is nonnegotiable, Hanuara.” My mother looked at me sternly.
“Why is everything nonnegotiable with you, Mother? You’re not always right. I thought lawyers were supposed to be negotiating!” I flew up to my room and slammed the door.
I rocked in the swing on my balcony. The sun was too sunny for my mood. This sucked. This sucked bad. I pictured the guard following me through the mall, waiting outside the door of the ladies’ washroom, sitting at the next table while Julius and I ate supper…
But don’t you think it would do you some good to finally have some measure of security? Said my uberannoying inner voice. Security, shmurity. I wanted freedom.
My father tapped on the glass door. “Go away!” I called.
“I’m not here to have a long talk with you. I’m just telling you that somebody’s here to see you.” He stroked my hair like he did when I was a little girl.
My father shrugged. “Oh, I don’t know. Some kid named Julian Lawrence or something. He told me you would want to see him, but I came up here to make sure.”
“Julius? Julius came to see me?” I barrelled out the door and down the hall. The men in black were sitting at the kitchen table with my mother and Monica, sipping coffee like English patrons and matrons. I could barely make out the shadowy figure through the smoked glass door. “Julius!” He hugged me, and asked me what was going on. I shook my head. “It’s a kind of long story.”
He looked around at my family and the guards. “Do we have time?”
With a withering look at my mother, I took his hand and led him into the sitting room. “We have time.” If he was going to hang around a bit in the future, he should probably know a little about my past.
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