Laura lay motionless; the side of her face lay pressed against the cool linoleum, coated in partially congealed blood. Some of it was probably hers but most of it had belonged to her husband, also lying silent on the floor somewhere behind her. She wondered how close he was. Could she reach him if she tried? He couldn’t be far considering the pool of blood that had surrounded her, and presumably him as well. Because her ear was flat on the floor, the slightest movement of her head put odd pressure on her eardrum creating a loud squelching sound within her head that was most annoying and unpleasant. The corner of her left eye had not been spared the slow crimson flood and what little she was able to see with it was dark pink and out of focus. Rose colored lenses indeed… She marveled at her ability to find humor in even her current situation.
She wasn’t sure how long she’d laid here, but with her unhindered eye she could see that the misshapen rectangle of light cast by the afternoon sun through the small window above the sink had moved from the corner of the table, where the stranger still sat, across the kitchen floor and was now intersecting the reddish-brown puddle directly in front of her face. The entire time she had watched the slow tracking of the light across the floor, the person who had done this to her and her beloved had sat quietly at the small breakfast table facing the other direction.
The blood around her left arm was noticeably cooler and much stickier than when it has first touched and flowed languidly around her. She hadn’t moved as the iron stink had permeated her nostrils and the hot fluid (It had seemed so hot then) had spread out around her. There was so much of it… The pool had stopped expanding. Mark was dead or very close to it. Her chest hitched with the emotion of it. The disgusting squelching sound again as her head shifted slightly. The man sitting across the kitchen turned and Laura held her breath. Had he heard the suction of her ear on the floor too?
The grief and fear were at war within Laura. She wanted to cry, wail, and rage against this monster who had so casually and effortlessly taken Mark from her. But something deep inside told her not to move. Be still, let him think you’re dead too, or at least unconscious. A heavy tear overflowed and slowly worked its way across the length of her nose, hanging there at the tip before dropping into the sea of red below it. Her eye shifted back towards the table. Thank God, she thought. He had turned away before the tear had come. The path the tear had taken was now cooler and felt slightly stiff. She watched the figure sit at the table, slumping slighting in the chair. She couldn’t afford to cry. Not a luxury that I’m allowed right now, she thought. She blinked hard, flushing one more tear down the length of her nose, its volume expended and drying before it had a chance to gather and drip away. She had to come up with a plan. Laying here in a fear induced rigor wouldn’t do her or Mark any good.
At the thought of Mark her emotion and tears came clawing and rushing back up again. NO. Not now. She focused on the dull throb at the base of her skull and on how the drying blood and matted hair on the back of her head felt against her scalp. Every little movement pulled dozens of hairs that were now part of the solidifying mess back there, threatening to pull open the gash and cause a renewed bout of blood flow. Better.
Her headache had lessened from when she first awoke, or had at least decided to find its rightful place in the queue of ‘Things really wrong with Laura’s world.’ Either way, she only noticed the occasion deep throb now. Whatever she had been hit with had been very hard and very heavy. That’s all she could remember thinking in the fraction of a second between leaning over the kitchen sink to look at the unfamiliar car in the driveway and waking up in pain and a pool of blood. She had woken up instantly but hadn’t moved; opening her eyes slowly and only the tiniest bit, already somehow aware that something was deeply wrong. She still wasn’t sure how she’d managed that little bit of guile.
I need to think of a wa—
The harsh trill of the wall phone erupted, shattering the silence that the small kitchen had been awash in. Laura winced at the sound of the phone coming to life as a swift but enormous lightning storm flooded her mind, the pain driving away all thought. Explosive white flooded her vision before fading back to a dull yellow and finally the muted color of the kitchen floor and rectangle of sunlight again. Why was it so loud? The phone rang again, barely audible to her now; her headache back with a vengeance.
The sitting man pushed the table away with one thick arm, causing it to rasp across the floor noisily and smash into the small hutch sitting there. Glass tinkled to the floor under the table. He stood up and with a single stride, stepped out of Laura’s narrow field of vision. A second later the ringing stopped.