Sunday, November 7, 2010

Vignette: Murder Mystery Scrap

Emily died at twenty minutes to midnight, the last Friday in April. And I could have prevented it, just by inviting her in.

I don't mean that her death was my fault. It was the fault of the man that broke into her apartment at three o'clock that afternoon. He spent almost nine hours there. According to the police, he used the toilet once, ate a bowl of cereal, and watched Breakfast at Tiffany's on her DVD player. He didn't bother to turn the television off when he left after shooting Emily once in the head. I'm never going to feel the same way about Audrey Hepburn again.

Emily knocked on my door at eleven o'clock that night. She didn't ask to stay. She never asked for anything, and that's why she died. If she'd just said, "I'm afraid to go home. Can I stay here tonight?" she'd still be alive.

Instead, she said, "I made it after all!" Standing on my doorstep, beaming and benificent and, as always, perfectly pressed.

Emily's perfectly pressed state always annoyed me. It annoyed me all the more at that hour, when any normal human woman wearing a linen sheath should be draped in a network of wrinkles. So I just looked at her, until she started to wilt.

She tried again. "To go through your wardrobe. Remember? We talked about it."

I didn't step back from the doorway. "We didn't talk about it. You said that I needed to get a wardrobe consultant if I ever wanted to break into management. Which I don't."

Emily laughed. Her laugh, well-modulated and synthetically sweet, annoyed me almost as much as her unwrinkled state. "Oh, I know, I know, you don't want to put me to any trouble. But what are friends for? I thought we'd have a slumber party - we could go through all your clothes, figure out some outfits, and maybe I could help you with your makeup."

I'd been reading about boundaries, and I set one. I didn't let her in, not for the "slumber party", not for a cup of coffee, not even when she asked to use the bathroom. I told her that the apartment and I weren't ready for entertaining, and I sent her on her way. The police came four hours later to tell me that she was dead.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Great stuff - the opening para is masterly! I was burgled once - though happily not murdered - and the offender spent an estimated 2 hours in the house, drank half a bottle of sherry, also ate cereal (at least two bowls, I reckoned), and stole my Hoover, some Belgian francs and the usual consumer electronic stuff. When he was caught, eight Hoovers were found in his house, so he was clearly quite houseproud himself, though he left mine in a bit of a state!

  2. Excellent writing! Story made me a bit sad, but has a good moral behind it, I think. You never know, right? It could happen any day, which is why the most important things in life are the relationships we cultivate.

    - Lauren

    P.S. You should check out this website for grants and awards for writing - the vast majority of them want short stories and you'd be really good at it - plus you can make lots of money in prizes and possibly travel a bit, not to mention get published. I found it useful:*

  3. Thanks, Vanessa! Himself just read it, and gave me nervous looks. :) And, yikes! That would be scary and upsetting, though maybe all the Hoovers would provide some slight comic relief?

  4. Hey, ladaisi! Thanks very much! And, hm, I'll have a look.

    BTW, I tried to get a look at your blog, and there's a formatting weirdness - the text all covers up with white? I could only read it by RSS. I'm using Safari, if that's relevant.