TESSA Pulled onto her street. Everything looked the same, except for two police cars that were parked out the front of her home. She pulled up cautiously behind them, she couldn't see anyone but the front door was open. No one should have been home.
She walked through the front door, she could hear voices coming from the kitchen in the back. She walked into the kitchen to see her mum sitting at the table as well as three uniformed officers all look up at the same time with the same look on their face, a mix of disbelief, shock and happiness. Tess stopped and stared back at them, she didn't know if she could handle some really bad news right now after a 15 hour drive.
"What are you all doing in my house?" she asked. The comment hung in the air until her mum broke the silence by wailing, one of the officers tried to grab her but she pushed her away and grabbed Tess.
"Are you OK" she sobbed "are you?" Tess asked "what happened to you?" she cried
"what do you mean?" Tess asked.
"I haven't herd from you in 3 months, we thought you weren't coming back" she manged to choke out. Tess looked around to see if this was a joke but when she saw the serious looks she was getting she stood up straighter and suddenly felt defensive.
"What the hell is going on?" she demanded, one of the officers came over to her, "you've been a missing person for 2 months now Tess, do you want to tell us what happened?" the officer asked.
After the officers had gone Tess and her mother sat in the living room. "And i didn't hear anything from you, no calls, your phone was disconnected, they said you hadn't used any of your cards or accessed your money, it wasn't like you, after two weeks they finally took me seriously and started looking for you, but they couldn't find a trace" her mum sat with a strained look on her face, she had aged in the last few months she had been away. "Why were they hear today?" Tess asked "because someone had seen someone who looked like you a few days ago and they were asking me more questions" Tessa looked at her phone, there was her face, plasted as a missing person all over the local news.
"Wheres Gary?" her mum asked suddenly, Tess looked at her"what do you mean?".
"He's not with you? but he went missing the same time you did, he was a suspect"
"What do you mean?" Tess said again, suddenly getting frantic. "He was supposed to be here, he didn't go with me i told you that"
"When you left and he was gone to i thought you both went away together and no you never told me anything"
"I was going away for a few months after uni for a traveling holiday!" Tess said getting angry "wheres Gary?"
"You never told me you were going away" her mother was starting to get angry. Tess grabbed her phone and called the police station, within an hour they were back again asking her more questions. By the questions they were asking it looked like they didn't believe her. Tessa felt rage building inside her, why weren't they doing anything about it?
"We are going to need you to come down to the station" one of the officers suddenly said
"What? why?, do you think i did something to him now?, why aren't you listening to me" she screamed.
"Well, honestly, this story doesn't sound very plausible Mrs Fletcher, we need to ask you more questions down at the station" he said getting up to grab her arm, Tessa was going to resist but thought better of it, if this was going to bring Gary home then she would put up with it.
3 weeks later Tessa sat in her living room unsure of what to do. The TV played in the background as she stared at the wall. She hadn't been back to work, hadn't even told them she was back. She wouldn't be able to face them right now, all the questions, the accusations, even the sympathy seemed to much. Suddenly she got a strange sensation at the base of her skull, like fingers running up the back of her neck. She shivered and an eerie silence crept over the room, she herd a splintering sound, and then a huge crack of what sounded like glass about to break. She jumped and turned around, it came from the kitchen.
She ran into the kitchen to see her glass sliding door with a giant crack all the way from top to bottom on the verge of smashing to pieces.
She walked over to the door, nothing had fallen. She turned the porch light on, no one was around, she carefully opened the door and went out. It was a quiet and calm night, there were no lights on next door. She turned to go back inside and inspected the glass. It was thick glass and she didn't know how long until it fell to pieces, she shut it and locked it and turned off the lights. She watched out the back door to see if there was movement outside, but she couldn't see anything.
Two nights later Tessa woke up to a severe pain in her chest. She was sweating all over and could feel her chest tightening, like someone was sitting on her trying to choke her. Her fingers started to go numb and she thought she was about to faint. She lay there still until eventually it started to fade. Feeling came back into her fingers and she realized the room seem to get warmer again, she hadn't realized it had gotten so cold. She sat up and looked around, no one was there she was alone. But the feeling of dread never left and she stayed awake for the rest of the night.
The next day she sat in the doctors office watching him inspect her blood pressure. She was exhausted and didn't know the last time she had eaten, or slept. "So your saying your having panic attacks as well?" he asked.
"Yeah and ive just been really irritable and nauseous all the time and dizzy, really dizzy" Tessa told him, she watched him to try and figure out what he was thinking. He had the same look the cops had on their faces when they thought she was lying. "OK well, we can take some blood samples and do some tests and in the meantime ill give you something for the symptoms and when i get the results back ill call you in, see what we find OK?" he asked looking back at his computer. Later that day she picked up her medication and stopped by the get something for dinner, as she walked through the isles, it all looked horrible to her right now.
That night she had her mum over for dinner, it was the least she could do after what she apparently went through. Her mum was just happy to have her back. The police were still trying to locate her husband and had been unsuccessful but at least she was no longer a suspect. It surprised Tessa when her mum brought it up "Were you and Gary having problems?" she asked suddenly, Tessa dropped her fork, unsure how to answer the questions, were the police trying to get a confession? "um no we were fine, whys that?" she asked casually looking at her steak. "Oh, i was just wondering, do you think he ran off?"
"I don't know mum, i told you i tried to contact you, i had a new phone, i messaged you, you never got back to me"
"I don't remember any message" it drove Tess crazy when her mum did that
"Well , i told him i was going away, he was fine with it, we talked for a while on the phone until i got a new phone and then nothing, so if he was planning on leaving me, its a surprise to me, but hes a big boy he can leave if he wants" she said holding back tears.
"I just don't know how you go away for 3 months without a letter or phone call, everyone, all of your friends were scared to death"
"I wasn't! no never mind im not going on about this again"
"Why would Gary just leave?"
"You never know what someones really capable of"
After her mum left Tessa sat on the kitchen bench, a big glass of wine in her hand. She couldn't stop thinking about the last few weeks, she had tried to call her mum hadn't she? why would Gary just take off? maybe he was unhappy. Still Tessa couldn't explain how everyone had thought she was missing, she had told people she was going away to travel, to find herself and all that crap, she had proof, she had photos, Facebook posts. She jumped off the bench and headed to her computer and checked her Facebook, but it was empty. No posts for the last 4 months. Tessa scanned through, refreshed it over and over but there it was, nothing. She grabbed her phone and opened the photo app. A blank screen stared back at her.
Tessa couldn't comprehend what was happening, she felt the familiar chill go up her neck and the next thing she knew, she was waking up on the floor of the kitchen her head ached and she had spilled her wine. "Great, medicine doesn't work" she cursed the doctor for wasting her money.
She sat back in the doctors office a few days later, watching him write out another prescription for a different medicine "so what about the scratches, when did they appear?" he asked her.
"About two days ago and the rashes started then too" she showed him the rash that had started appearing on her arm, he examined them and then typed something on his computer again, she was getting a bad feeling. "So im going to send you to get some more tests done, im not sure what we are dealing with yet" .
She left the doctors feeling no better than before. She got home and went into the kitchen to start making dinner, she had no energy and she wasn't hungry but she had to eat. She washed the potatoes in the sink, when she looked up she saw a familiar crack right across the kitchen window. She hadn't noticed it before, she looked outside, maybe it was the neighbors kids. She hated those kids, they were noisy and rowdy and old enough to jump her fence and do this. She would see the parents tomorrow and they could pay for the damage. She would tell her she saw them do it so she would think they did it, she didn't have the money to pay for some vandals work.
The next day she knocked on her neighbors door, the mother answered, she must of interrupted her cleaning. "hi Mary, Tess from next door how are you?"
"Great im well, how are you" she said. Way to cheery for 8 in the morning she thought. "Well i was just going to let you know i think your children have broken my window, i saw them climbing over the fence and i noticed last night my kitchen window has a big crack in it" she said.
"Oh well, that's impossible" she said "we don't have kids" she smiled "oh" Tess stopped, she was her only neighbor it had to be her, why was she lying? "But ive herd kids here before, are you sure you don't have kids?" Mary laughed, "yes im sure we have never had kids over here we have only been here a few months, don't have many friends yet" she laughed. The way she looked at her annoyed Tess. "Um OK, i must of been mistaken, sorry to disturb you" Tess said "have you seen anyone around my house in the last few months?" she asked "no, just you and then last week the police" she said, Tess stopped then "when did you see me?"
"Just for the last few months, i assumed you lived alone and i saw your mother?, she was the lady here the other night right?"
"I've been gone three months" Tess said ignoring her question. She saw confusion on Mary's face "no, ive seen you since we moved in. You go to work everyday when my husband does, except for the last two weeks, sorry im not spying, i just see you in the mornings"
Backing away and storming back home, Tess didn't say goodbye. What the hell was going on? she must of been lying, she had seen kids there before and they were hers, she was sure of it.
Tessa sat at her computer trying to make sense of the last few months. Where she really was, what she had done. She had spotted memories but she was sure she had driven over the country, traveling North, stopping where she wanted, no real agenda. She vaguely remembered places but no matter how hard she tried she couldn't make full memories fit together. She searched her computer history. She clicked on a recent folder. She didn't recognize it. What she saw made her blood run cold. hundreds of videos, she clicked on the first one and it showed a man in Syria being beheaded. It was a gruesome sight that made her stomach churn. Why would she have this video, it was sick. She clicked on the next one, it was a video of a man being skinned alive, she couldn't even make it to the end before she threw the computer and ran outside. She felt dizzy again. She sat down and put her head in her hands.
The next day at the doctors she sat staring at his charts while he wrote out another prescription "this is a really strong medication so no alcohol until you get used to it. don't take to many either, we will take more tests, ill send you to a specialist this time, don't worry we will figure this out" he smiled, she hadn't told him how bad her symptoms were getting, she thought about asking for a referral to a shrink but thought he might ask why.
Later that night she sat in her kitchen. Screw the doctor she thought, taking two of the tablets and opening a bottle of wine.
The next morning Tess sat bolt upright in bed. Morning light filtered through the curtains. She got a fleeting memory of what happened the night her husband left. Slowly coming in flashes. Drinking, fighting more drinking, then a story started to appear.
She came home early from work to find the garage light on, she opened the door to find him with a woman, she was partially clothed and she lay limp on the garage floor, surrounded by a pool of blood. She remembered the blood. He had begged her not to tell the police, it was an accident. She hadn't believed him, the last two months she had been reading newspaper reports of young women missing in the area. She hadn't wanted to believe it and maybe she had forgotten the memory because she couldn't stand the thought of what had happened. How her perfect life had spiraled out for control.
She sat in the lounge room, there was a knock on the door. She jumped and looked towards the front door. It was her mother, she forgot she had invited her over for lunch. "shit" she said under her breath. Eating lunch she looked across at her mum. She couldn't tell her, her mother wouldn't understand, she would make her tell the police why he was gone, what he had done. Her mother had loved Gary, he was good looking, had a great job. Tess had always thought he was a sweet,but his eyes had always made her uncomfortable, something she had never said out loud. They were a dark brown that looked black. No one else had ever said anything but she had noticed. He was so amazing in every other way, except for the last few months. He had become distant and vague about where he was going, who he was with. They were fighting a lot. No one had known. Some of their fights had gotten so heated, they had left holes in the walls, damaged phones and left bruises. Her mother had never noticed or at least never said anything.
After her mother left, she sat out the front, waiting. She had a bad feeling again. And there, turning the corner was the police car again. The officer got out and approached her, she motioned for him to sit down. He sat and watched her. "we have found Gary body".
Tess looked out at the street, watching the kids ride past. She knew, knew what he was going to say before he spoke. They sat for a long while in silence. "how?" she asked "we think he was hit over the head with a hard object and then taken to the sight and shot" he said letting that sink in "when?"
"About the time he went missing, the body was decomposing, it was left in a shallow grave" the cop answered all her questions, asked her to come down for questioning tomorrow, she said she would and said goodbye.
She sat that night drinking her wine in the living room. She remembered fighting with him, she had been drinking, slurring her words, falling over. She remembered hitting him and the look on his face when she had, she remembered grabbing his phone and throwing it against a wall. She tried to hit him again when he tried to stop her and pushed her against the wall yelling at her to stop. She remembered getting really angry and trying to push him down the stairs and falling herself. She remembered screaming at him and and grabbing his baseball bat and swinging.