Smoke rose up from the cigarette in between a thumb and two fingers of a man, rising high enough to flick the wood rafters that held up the roof of the small cabin’s den. The man moved a finger to tap at the cigarette. Ashes fell to the pine floor. His eyes stared into the small abyss of another’s.
“Why tell me all this now? Why not earlier?”
The man didn’t make a move or flutter his lips and tongue to answer her. Instead he squashed the cigarette into an ash bowl and took a deep breath.
“Are you just going to sit there like I’m not here?”
That was exactly his plan.
She stood and paced around the den. The heels of her boots thumped against the boards of a forgotten pine tree. In her eye was a tear. In his, nothing.
“I can’t believe you. Why would you tell me something like this and not be able to give me a straight answer? You pig.”
His brown eyes found her again. A frown was twitching in the corner of his mouth, wanting to be seen.
“He’s my husband! I have a right to know!”
A crumpled pack of cigarettes in his coat pocket tempted him, but he resisted. He stood and touched where they were with a finger.
“What?” The woman looked at him, scowled at him as he stood. “You’re just going to leave?”
He smirked, but only slightly, barely enough for her to even notice it and turned. He said nothing. He had nothing to say.
He felt her move toward him, rushing after him. He felt her small hand on his bicep. “You can’t just leave now! You haven’t even told me-!”
He turned to face her, put his hand on hers. He bore his gaze into her blue eyes and turned once more. She backed off as he strode through the hallway and to the door, then she sat back on the sofa in the den. He heard her crying just as he opened the door to leave.
* * *
Hakan Enapay’s memories of his last visit with Sophia Gray entered his mind as he towered over her mangled and bloodied remains. He was unmoved by the corpse and the memories. He wondered at that, as he usually did when confronting the dead. He removed a cigarette from his coat pocket and placed it between his lips. His eyes followed the trail of blood from Sophia’s corpse, across the pine floor and to the sofa. They then traveled to her eyes.
Her blue eyes stared back at him, unblinking. Hakan wondered what her last memories were. Why he felt as if there was a twinge of fear laced within her dead blue and graying eyes. He moved his fingers forward, as if to touch them.
Sophia’s green bathrobe was torn at the sleeve. Blood covered the majority of it and her and her blonde hair. Four gashes could clearly be seen in her torso and chest. Hakan looked at her left hand. Her wedding ring was gone.
“What secrets have you to tell me, Sophia?” Hakan asked the dead woman and he kneeled to the floor beside her. “And what memories of last night have you to share?”
His fingers twitched toward her, brushed against her ring-less hand. Her skin was smooth, cold, dead under his. He closed his eyes. Her memories flittered within his mind.
“You can’t just leave now! You haven’t even told me-!”
He watched from her point of view as he walked out her door. Silence filled the den and the cabin after he had shut it. Emotions of grief and anger-her grief and anger-entered him. Perhaps she was not guilty after all. He watched as she sat on the sofa and began to cry.
She was alone for now. She had always been fearful of being alone. Hakan examined Sophia as she looked down at her hands. They shook, looked so alive as she ran her fingers around her ring. Jerry wouldn’t be back. She knew that. Somehow she had a feeling Jerry was long gone. She knew. He was gone.
Where? Where did he go? Fear and worry shook her mind as she looked at her wedding ring. Had he left her? Was he murdered? Was he trapped somewhere? She began to rock back and forth, twisting the ring around her finger.
Hakan’s vision followed as if he were Sophia as she walked across the pine floor and hallway to a small bathroom. She stumbled into the room and to the sink. Hakan gazed into Sophia’s blue eyes, eyes filled with tears and fear. Then sadness.
Another memory fluttered in front of his vision, an earlier one, one that happened days before. Sophia stood in the middle of a snow-covered lawn, in front of the cabin. A man was with her. She had a ball of snow in her hands. She was smiling. Happy.
Hakan wondered if he could ever be happy….
Hakan drew his fingers away from what remained of Sophia Gray as soon as he felt it. Someone was in the cabin. He wasn’t alone.
He stood, but slowly. He knew someone was in the cabin. He felt his presence as if it was a knife stabbing him in the back. He turned around and looked down the hallway to the front door.
The door was ajar. Hakan knew he did not leave it that way when he entered the cabin. He moved his head back to Sophia, looked back at those dead blue eyes. He touched her once more, but this time her cheek.
She tossed the snowball. It soared across the air and into Jerry’s arm. He laughed and tossed one at her. Happiness. Hakan wished….
“You missed!” Sophia’s voice rang through his ears.
Jerry walked to her and tackled her. They fell into the snow. Hakan watched them linger on the ground for a moment and then kiss.
“I love you,” Sophia spoke.
Jerry said the same.
Another memory. Sophia was back in the bathroom, looking at her own eyes in the mirror. She took her ring off and set it on the sink…went to the bathtub…turned on the tap….
Hakan was not phased when Sophia undressed in her memory. He was more interested in the wedding ring on the sink and the knock on the door.
He watched Sophia turn to look out the bathroom door and into the hallway, grab her green bathrobe from off the back of the door, put it on, tie it around her waist, walk out the door into the hall. Another knock.
She had thought it was Hakan again. Hakan did not watch as the murderer came through the door. He already knew who it was.
Hakan heard the noise before it sounded. He lifted his gaze up from Sophia and towards the hallway. The door was now closed.
He stood and went straight to the bathroom.
The wedding ring was missing. He knew Sophia had not moved it. She had been killed before she could.
The water was turned off. Sophia never had time to do so. Hakan moved back through the hall.
He placed his hand on the doorknob of the front door. It was warm. Someone had closed it while he was with Sophia’s corpse. He opened it.
Clear footprints were set in the snow. Two sets. His and someone else’s. He followed.
The woods were not far from the cabin. The killer was there. Hakan could feel the killer’s energy growing hotter within the cold air. He was close.
The trees were getting thicker. He was being lead farther and farther from the cabin. He knew he was being lead to his death, yet he walked anyway, followed the footsteps, ran after them. His own memories flickered through his mind as if a flame in the darkness.
His own words sounded strange even now. He looked into her blue eyes and wondered. Was happiness possible for him?
She had been the only thing in his life that got him close to that feeling, close to being happy. She was contentment. She was….
“Jerry asked me to marry him.”
She was breaking him.
He ran faster through the trees. The snow was getting deeper. It was almost knee deep now. The footprints were getting hotter. He knew he was close.
Memories of the first time he met her were coming to him now. He tasted that cigarette, smelled her perfume, felt the beer, could see the bar.
“How long what?” he asked her.
“You said you have a superpower. Tell me about it.”
She made him smile that night. He felt himself smiling now.
He shook his head then. “You don’t want to hear about it.”
She smiled at him. “Oh, come on. Tell me about. I told you enough about me.”
It wasn’t enough. He wanted to know more.
“Come on cop, what are you?” Her voice was so playful in his ears. “You’re not Batman, are you?”
“Memories. I see other’s memories.”
He came to a sudden halt. The trees had cleared. He was standing in a snow-covered clearing. The killer was right in front of him.
The man was steps from him. His hand clutching a knife.
“Stay away from me, Enapay!”
Hakan held out a hand. “Was this it? All along?”
“Shut up! You couldn’t have saved her!”
Hakan said nothing. He had nothing to say.
Jerry was breathing hard, shivering, clutching the knife hard, too hard. His gray eyes were fixed on Hakan’s. Hakan felt his cigarettes through his coat pocket.
“She didn’t love you. She was mine! You get that? Mine! Think I didn’t know you were banging her? I knew it, pig! I knew!”
Hakan moved two fingers toward the cigarettes. Jerry brought his knife up.
“Just a cig. One last cig,” Hakan spoke.
Before Jerry could move, Hakan pulled out his box of cigarettes and tossed them at Jerry. He moved swiftly as Jerry dodged them, grabbed the knife from him and stabbed him straight in the gut. He watched as Jerry stumbled backwards and fell onto the ground, watched as the snow around him turned red.
“I wasn’t banging her. I respected her. I loved her.”
He bent over to retrieve the fallen now crumpled pack of smokes, grabbed one and lit it up. He then walked back to the cabin.