M L Gammella’s Picture Choice: 2
Title: Another When Part 4
My blood ran cold as I heard her move through the house. It was too soon! She wasn’t supposed to be home from work yet.
“Henry? Are you home, dear?” her sweet voice called from the living room. “I got a call from your office that you came home early.”
My office? Why was my office calling Margaret? And why would they tell her I was coming home early?
I tried to think back to what happened that day. There was so much going on those days leading up Margaret’s death. Her death that was unjustly pinned on me. As if I would ever hurt her.
The house creaked as Margaret climbed the stairs. If I didn’t move soon, she’d find me. I looked around quickly to find a hiding place or a quick exit. Our bedroom looked over the street. There was no way I could sneak out without being seen.
I slipped my shoes off and shuffled a connecting bedroom through the master bathroom. We had converted the bedroom into an office for me just a few short years after we bought the house. It was an important step for Margaret and I, we were planning on starting a family and I wanted to be home more. The person or persons who took her from me before we could.
With barely a snick, I shut the door behind me, locked it, and leaned against it. I listened carefully as Margaret's footsteps crested the stairs and approached their bedroom door.
Ah, her sweet voice, so close. My heart broke with her so close yet so far away.
The handle to the office jiggled as she tried to open the door.
"Henry? Are you in there? Henry?"
I held my breath and closed my eyes and willed myself not to respond, despite every fiber of my being that wanted to throw open the door and take her in my arms.
"That is so weird." I heard her say as she turned and went back the way she came.
My shoulders slumped with relief as I let out my breath. Thank God. I stepped away from the door and looked around with concern, ice filling my veins. My office was a mess. There were piles of papers strewn everywhere and drawers pulled out of filing cabinets. This was not my doing and Margaret wouldn't have done this either. I was too OCD about keeping everything neat and organized.
Someone had been in my house. Someone was looking for something. By the looks of it, they hadn't found it yet ... and that someone would be back. I knew this because I never once came home and found my office in such disarray. Someone would be coming back to clean up their mess. I had a strong suspicion that whoever that was also had something to do with Margaret's death.
Unanswered questions of the mystery were starting to line up. I started making a mental list of who would know about my home office and would try to find something out of it.
Carefully, not to disturb the mess around me, I grabbed a blank sheet of paper and began jotting my notes down. I stuffed the paper and a pen in my jacket pocket and looked outside. Margaret was outside in the backyard, watering the garden.
I slipped my shoes back on and raced down the hallway, down the stairs, and out the door before Margaret was finished. The front screen slammed shut just as I heard her open the back door. I ran as fast as I could down the sidewalk. One of the neighbors had a car in the driveway that I ducked behind in case Margaret was looking out the front of the house. I could only imagine that she heard the screen door slam.
After a few minutes of catching my breathe, I stood up and glanced at the house with longing one last time. I would be back, just not sure how soon. With a resolved step, I retraced my earlier steps and made my way back into town.
Later that night, in my rented bed in my dingy hotel room, I dreamed of a life where Margaret was still with me. We laughed together and lived together, way past the age I was now. Her brilliant red hair faded to a pale yellow but she was still the most beautiful woman I had ever known.
I woke a few hours later with tears coming down my face. The dream just further strengthened my resolve. I would see that dream become reality.
M L Gammella lives in Ohio with her husband and their three pets. She is currently working on her first novel, a paranormal suspense based in Maine. Please follow her at @MLGammella and visit her website at Onward to the Written Word.