Beyond the Divide: Part 20

A smile spread across Sonja’s face. “Perfect. I will text you the details.” She locked eyes with Christopher. “Thank you, Mr. Odera.”

Christopher leaned forward with one elbow on the table. “Tell me that’s exactly what I hope it is.”

Sonja reached out and ran the tips of her fingers down Christopher’s face. “Then let me make all of your dreams come true.” She closed her eyes and leaned in for a kiss.

 

***

Image by Kaleigh Kanary

Beyond the Divide: Part 19

“Hi, Detective Kohli? This is Mark Odera.” Mark scratched at his ear. “Listen, I found something. A flash drive. It was in Liz’s stuff. You know, we went through a few things, and… Anyway, I don’t understand most of it, but it looks like it will prove that Liz didn’t do the things she’s accused of. I think it was her boss,” Mark picked up a business card from the table, “Christopher Marston. I was hoping we could meet today, so I can hand it over.”

Mark chewed on a fingernail. “Okay.” He flipped his notepad open to a clean page and clicked the end of his pen. “Sure, I can make nine work.”

“Sounds good. Thanks.” Mark held his phone out and disconnected the call. He stared at it for a moment and bit at his bottom lip. He pushed Christopher’s card out of the way and picked up another. He entered the numbers into his phone and pressed the call button. Mark pushed out a deep breath and then stared at the world outside of his living room window.

 

***

Image by Kaleigh Kanary

 

 

Beyond the Divide: Part 18

Christopher sat in the wrought iron bistro chair with his back straight, and his legs crossed. The lines of his fitted, grey suit were crisp. One polished leather loafer bounced ever so slightly. He faced out to the sidewalk but did not appear to pay much attention to the people walking back and forth. Even if he had, it would have been impossible to tell through the dark lenses of his sunglasses.

Christopher didn’t turn when the seat on the other side of the table pulled out and the person he was waiting for sat down. Instead he lifted his mug from the table and took a sip.

“Mr. Marston.”

“My dear Sonja, why the formality?”

“You shouldn’t have gone to the funeral.”

Christopher turned his head further away. “It’s not a big deal. I just wanted to see how they would react.”

“If they knew anything at all you could have ruined it all right then and there.”

“It’s fine.”

Sonja sighed and rolled her large, hazel eyes. She looked away and tucked a stray wisp of light brown hair behind her ear. 

Christopher smiled. “It was… exhilarating. Being that close to them. Looking in their eyes.”

“It was stupid.”

“Whatever.”

They both stared straight ahead. Christopher kept one hand on the mug. Sonja crossed her arms and tapped at her bicep with a short cut fingernail.

“Have you booked the tickets?” Sonja said.

“Of course. I told you.”

“You keep saying that, but I haven’t seen the proof.”

“Would you like me to wave them around and present them to you with fanfare or a string quartet?”

“Of course not.”

“Then don’t worry. We leave tomorrow night.”

“Good.”

“What about the gun?” Christopher said.

Sonja’s face lost all expression. She looked to the eyes of each person walking by. “What about it?”

“Did they find it?”

“Yes. Two days ago.”

“And the prints?”

“Only hers.”

Christopher smiled. “Excellent.”

“Don’t be too proud of yourself, we’re not done with this yet.”

Sonja leaned forward and pulled her buzzing phone from her pocket. She glanced at the number, and then answered the call. “Detective Kohli speaking.”

 

***

Image by Kaleigh Kanary

Beyond the Divide: Part 17

Mark sat at his kitchen table with the binder closed in front of him. His phone was beside it to the right. The screen was dark.

He ran a hand over the cover of the binder. It was shiny and smooth where it hadn’t been doodled on. It smelled of plastic like those little dolls that Liz used to play with. Mark let out a deep breath and pulled the zipper along the edges. The spine creaked when he drew the cover open.

It was filled with lined paper that had yellowed at the edges. Mark flipped through but it was all from when Liz was a kid, mostly quick sketches and notes about boys she liked. Some girls too, he noticed for the first time. At the back was a plastic folder with three pockets. In one was a woven bracelet and three pennies. The second was empty. The third had been coloured over with pencil crayon. It bulged in the middle. Mark lifted the flap and fished around inside. He took out a flash drive and held it in the flat of his hand.

Mark watched it for a moment, unsure what to do. He looked across the room, closed his fingers around it, then stood and walked to the living room.

Mark sat down on the couch. With his free hand he lifted his laptop from the side table and set it down on his knees. He pushed the lid open and stuck the flash drive into one of the USB ports. When the computer woke up and the window opened, he slid his finger along the track pad and clicked on the only file folder. Mark scrolled through and opened each file and picture. With the audio files he only listened to the first few seconds. He was not sure what they meant but got the feeling it wasn’t good. After he had opened all of the files, Mark closed the lid of his laptop and stared at the wall.

 

***

Image by Kaleigh Kanary

Beyond the Divide: Part 16

Liz stood with her hands at her side. She wanted the comfort of sticking them in her pockets, but they were sewed shut. “If I had known I was going to be stuck in these pants forever I would have worn something more reasonable.” Liz said.

Evie looked up to Liz. “Pardon?”

Liz shook her head and held her hands in front of her. “Nothing.”

Evie nodded and looked back to the apartment building in front of them. “Are you ready?”

“I think so. I’m not sure which is hers though.”

“Close your eyes.”

“What? Why?”

“Go on.”

Liz frowned and looked sidelong at Evie, then she faced forward and closed her eyes.

“Anything?” Evie said.

“I don’t know what I’m waiting for.”

“Say her name.”

Liz adjusted her stance and made a face like she was uncomfortable. “Gloria.”

“Her whole name.”

“Gloria Dworetsky.”

The darkness behind Liz’s eyelids changed and a pinpoint of light hovered up and to her right. She opened her eyes. “Third floor. One in from the corner.”

“Excellent.” Evie held out a hand. “Lead the way.”

Liz nodded her head and the light changed.

Liz and Evie stood facing a plain wooden door with tarnished brass numbers and two deadbolts. A strip of police tape was hanging from the door frame. The wall paper surrounding the door was plain and beige. The carpet was anything but. The multicolour pattern was so intricate that it hurt Liz’s eyes to look at.

“Should we knock?” Liz said.

Evie scrunched her face and pondered for a moment. “Why?”

“I don’t know. Maybe there’s rules I don’t know about. Plus, something feels… wrong.”

Evie nodded. “When you enter, you need to be careful.”

“What do you mean?”

“Protect yourself. You don’t want anything following you when you go.”

“How do I do that?”

“Imagine yourself in a giant bubble. Take three deep breaths and spin around seven times.” Evie tilted her head. “Oh, and don’t forget to say the magic words.”

“Really?”

Evie smiled. “No. Not really. Keep it all at arm’s length. You will feel it.”

Liz nodded. She gave Evie one last glance, then walked through the door.

The room was smaller than Liz had expected. It may have seemed small because it was full of antique furniture and had huge abstract canvases on every wall. The carpet was a light colour but had a large, blotchy stain in the middle of the living room. Liz scanned the room and settled her focus on the back corner of the main room. A woman was crouched down behind the large swiss-cheese leaves of a tropical plant in a wide, blue ceramic pot. She wore ivory, silk pyjamas and her hair was up in a bun. Her feet were flat on the ground but she was tucked in on herself, with her arms wrapped around her legs and her face down on her knees.

Liz stepped forward. “Gloria?”

The woman twitched but did not respond.

“Gloria. It’s me, Liz.”

The woman rocked forward on the balls of her feet and looked up just enough to see who was standing in front of her.

“Gloria, it’s okay, you can come out.”

Gloria lowered her eyes and spoke in a hushed voice. “No.”

Liz knelt down. “I promise.”

“No,” Gloria said, louder this time. “The dog will come back to get me.”

“He won’t, Gloria. I’m here… I’m here to protect you.”

Gloria made a small, whimpering sound.

“You mentioned the dog. Does that mean you remember? Do you remember what happened?”

Gloria talked into her knees. “He said I knew something, but I didn’t. I really didn’t.”

“Who’s ‘he’, Gloria? Was it Christopher?”

“I didn’t know anything, but he said I did, and he sent the dog.”

“I know, I’m sorry.”

Gloria lifted her head. Her eyes were hard and tight. “This is your fault.”

Liz shook her head. “No, they blamed it on me, but I swear I had nothing to do with it. Just like you.”

Gloria unwrapped her hands and set them on the floor. Her neck was cut across her larynx. Blood soaked down the front of her shirt, it glistened in the dim light. “This is your fault!”

Liz felt pressure pushing against her and trying to wrap itself around her. She closed her eyes and pushed back.

Gloria screamed. “This is your fault!”

Liz opened her eyes to see Gloria crawling toward her. Her head had almost been severed. It was at an odd angle and resting off to one side. Liz stood and jumped back. “Jesus!”

Gloria screamed again, a piercing shriek that shook the walls. “This is your fault!”

Liz balled up her fists. Warmth built until it was almost unbearable. She looked down and they were glowing. She shouted and held them out toward Gloria. Pure light filled the room. When it faded, Gloria was back behind the leaves, glaring.

Liz took two steps back and then looked to the door from the corner of her eye. When she looked ahead, Gloria was gone.

 

***

Image by Kaleigh Kanary

 

 

Beyond the Divide: Part 15

Mark sat with his hands on his lap. He looked around the bright apartment. It was like something out of a design magazine. Clean and modern, with the right amount of kitsch.

Poppy came into the room, set a mug down in front of Mark, and another at her own spot at the table. She sat down and wrapped her hands around the mug. “She really didn’t talk about us?”

“Maybe, I mean, she didn’t come right out and say anything. Or I didn’t pay attention.” Mark sat up straight. “Not that she would have been trying to hide anything, I’m sure. I hope it wasn’t because she thought I would have a problem with it. She was just Liz, you know? Things were the way they were. It wasn’t something to make a big deal of.”

Poppy smiled and her chin quivered. “Yeah, you’re right.”

“Plus, as sad as it is to say, we haven’t talked a lot lately. I’ve been busy with work, and…”

Poppy reached out and set her hand over Mark’s. “Don’t you dare blame yourself for the distance. She could have done better too.”

“Yeah, well, we both could have I guess.”

“You’re not alone. Everyone struggles with it.”

“Does that make it better?”

Poppy shrugged. “No, but sometimes it’s easier when you know you’re not alone.”

“I suppose so.” Mark took a sip from the mug. The coffee was strong but had just the right amount of sweetness. “Things were, I don’t know, good with you guys?”

Poppy smiled. “They couldn’t have been better. She really was amazing. We had even talked about getting married. One day, anyway.”

“Wow, I had no idea things were that serious. I mean…”

Poppy held a hand up. “It’s okay, Mark, really.”

Mark frowned and watched his hands. “That kind of connection, it’s special. I’m sorry things turned out the way they have.”

Poppy wiped away a tear at the corner of her eye. “Me too.”

“This is a stupid question, but you knew her better than me, I guess. What they’re saying, about the money, and the…”

“It’s not true. None of it. The Liz I knew could never be capable of the things they’re saying,” Poppy said.

“Good. I mean, me neither. It’s just that I see the things they’re saying on the news, and I get confused.”

Poppy nodded.

“Sorry, we don’t need to talk about it.”

“It’s okay.”

They sat in silence for a time, staring at the table and sipping their coffees.    

“Listen,” Mark said. “I know this is a weird question, but did Liz have an old binder with a bunch of flowers and doodles on it? She had it since we were kids. I… I thought about it the other day. I’m not sure why.”

Poppy twisted her lips and looked up at the ceiling. “Yeah, I think it’s upstairs. Did you want to see it?”

Mark stammered at first. “Yeah. If I could, that would be great.”

 

***

Image by Kaleigh Kanary

 

 

Beyond the Divide: Part 12

Liz crossed her arms low on her body. Evie looked up at her. “What’s the matter?”

“I don’t know. I expected more. I don’t recognize half of the people down there.”

“You have people that care enough about you to come out into the world to show it. That is not a small thing.”

“I know. I’m not sure why it’s a big deal.”

“None of us really know what our impact was in life, not really. I wouldn’t be disappointed.”

“Maybe.” Liz stayed silent as the ceremony came to an end and the reception line moved through.

She clenched her right hand and rested the knuckle of her pointer finger against her lips. She smiled but her eyes were sad. “Oh, Poppy.” Liz looked down to Evie. “She’s so comfortable with people. So caring. Maybe that’s why we got along so well. She has qualities in abundance that I lack.”

“That’s important, finding someone to balance you.”

Liz lowered her head. “Yeah.” She sniffed and wiped at her nose. When she looked at her hand, it was dry. “Old habits die hard I guess?”

Evie nodded. “That is true.”

Liz brushed her hair back behind her ears. She looked down at her mother and brother. They stood staring straight ahead as Poppy walked away.

A man came out from the trees behind them. He walked to stand in front and reached his hand out toward Liz’s mother. Liz saw the hint of a smile on the man’s face. “What the hell…”

A shadow moved behind the trio. Liz was about to pose a new question, but Evie moved in front of her and held an arm out. “Stay back.”

“What? Why?”

“I mentioned before about how when some people stay that the human parts get forgotten?”

Liz nodded.

“That right there, has not an ounce of humanity left.”

 

***

Image by Kaleigh Kanary

 

 

Beyond the Divide: Part 4

Mark sat at the kitchen table, leaning forward with his head in his hands. His glasses were upside down on the tabletop beside a note pad and pen. His phone was sitting on its face across from him. He let out a long breath and then ran his hands through his stiff, brown hair. His eyes were red and damp. His body was shaking. He couldn’t make it stop.

He looked up to the room. The curtains in the living room were drawn tight. Every door, except for the entrance, was open. Every light in the apartment was on.

The conversation kept playing in his mind. Over and over, again and again. He questioned what had been said. He questioned what he had seen even more so. The interaction started to morph, to change shape. He wasn’t sure what was real, what had happened, and what he had created.

Mark stared at his hand written note. He wasn’t sure where to start, or if he should start at all. How did you bring up in conversation that your older sister was dead, when he wasn’t sure if anyone else knew?

He reached across the table for his phone. He hesitated, but then snatched it up and stared at the lit screen. He didn’t see anything at all out of the ordinary, It was just his phone. He let out a breath and pressed down on the button. He typed in his password, and then searched through the contacts for his mother’s phone number.

 

***

 

Image by Kaleigh Kanary

 

 

Beyond the Divide: Part 2

The door clicked shut and the room was pitch black. Mark fumbled with his free hand for the light switch. He squinted as his eyes adjusted to the crisp light from the fixture above his head. He turned the latch on the deadbolt and hooked the chain. He released the ring of keys from between his teeth to his open hand, and then tossed them onto the counter.

Mark was walking through the kitchen when he felt the buzzing in his pocket. He pulled his phone out. The display name was blank. He hesitated for a moment but pressed the green button and held the phone to his ear.

“Hello?”

“Mark.”

Mark stopped in front of the dining room table. The voice was quiet. It sounded like it was echoing down a long corridor. “Liz?”

“Mark, I…”

“Liz, where are you? I think we’ve got a bad connection.”

Mark set the grocery bags down on the table. A can of tuna dropped down and rolled off onto the floor and toward the living room. Mark watched as it arced and settled in front of the TV stand. His eyes raised to a figure standing in the shadows of the far corner.

Mark stared at the woman. Ice water ran through his body. The woman’s mouth was closed tight and her eyes pinched. Her hair was damp and hanging straight, her clothes sticking to her body. She looked like she was concentrating. There was hurt in her eyes.

Mark pulled the phone away from his ear. “Liz?”

The voice came through the phone, but the woman’s lips moved in time. “Mark, I didn’t do it. What they’re going to say about me.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Find my journal, Mark. It will lead you to the truth.”

The phone fell silent and Mark lowered his arm. The woman began to shake her head back and forth, slowly at first. Her mouth moved like she was trying to talk. Her face went flush, and her eyes inked over to black. She let out a scream like she was dying.

When Mark pulled his hands away from his ears and opened his eyes, she was gone. He looked around the room. The windows were closed, not that there was anywhere to go. He turned to the front door. The deadbolt was locked, and the chain still fastened.

 

***

 

Image by Kaleigh Kanary