I untangle the cords, then plug the dusty monitor into an outlet next to Verity’s computer. I rush back upstairs, but before I reach the top, I stop. I turn around. I go to the kitchen and grab a knife.
When I’ve reached Verity’s room again, I clutch the knife in my hand and unlock her bedroom door. She hasn’t moved. Her leg is still dangling off the bed. I keep my back to the wall as I move to her dresser and set the other half of the monitor on the dresser. I point it at her bed and plug it in.
I walk back to the door and hesitate before exiting her room. I step forward, still clutching the knife, then lift her leg as fast as I can and drop it on the bed. I throw the covers over her, lift the bed rail, and then slam her door shut when I’m back out in the hallway.
I lock it.
Fuck this shit.
I’m panting by the time I make it to the kitchen sink. I wash the blood off my hands, which has dried to my skin. I spend a few minutes cleaning it off the table and floor. Then I go back to the office and sit down in front of the monitor.
I make sure my cell phone camera is on video mode in case she moves. If she moves...I want Jeremy to see it.
For an entire hour, I wait. I watch my phone for Jeremy’s call. I watch the monitor for Verity’s lies. I’m too scared to leave the office and do anything other than wait. The tips of my fingers grow sore from the constant tapping against the desk.
When another half an hour goes by, I realize I’ve resorted to doubting myself again. She would have moved by now. Especially since she hasn’t even opened her eyes. She didn’t see me set up the monitor because her eyes were closed, so she wouldn’t even know it was there.
Unless she opened them as I was running down the stairs. If that’s the case, she saw the monitor and knows I’m watching her.
I shake my head. This is driving me insane.
There’s one chapter left of her manuscript. I need to put this all to rest if I’m going to stay in this house for another week. I can’t continue with the back and forth of thinking I’m in danger and thinking I’m crazy. I grab the last several pages and keep my chair pointed at the video monitor. I’ll read as I keep an eye on her movements.
So Be It
It’s only been a few days since Harper died, but I feel my world has shifted more in those few days than in all my years on this earth.
The police took my report. Twice. It’s understandable that they’d want to ensure there weren’t any holes in my story. It’s their job. Their questions were simple enough. Easy to answer.
“Can you explain to us what happened?”
“Harper leaned over the edge of the canoe. It tipped over. We all went under, but Harper never came up. I tried to find her, but I was running out of breath and needed to get Crew to safety.”
“Why were your children not in life vests?”
“We thought we were in shallow water. We were so close to the dock at first, but then…we weren’t.”
“Where was your husband?”
“He was at the grocery store. He told me to take the kids to the water before he left.”
I answered all their questions amidst bouts of sobs. Occasionally I would double over, as if her death were physically affecting me. I think my performance was so good, it made them uncomfortable to ask me more questions.
I wish I could say the same for Jeremy.
He’s been worse than the detectives.
He hasn’t let Crew out of his sight since Harper passed. The three of us have been sleeping downstairs together in the master—Crew in the middle, Jeremy and me separated by yet another child. But tonight was different. Tonight I told Jeremy I wanted him to hold me, so he put Crew on the other side of him and Jeremy lay in the middle. I clung to him for half an hour, hoping we could fall asleep that way, but he wouldn’t stop with the fucking questions.
“Why did you take them in the canoe?”
“They wanted to go,” I said.
“Why weren’t they in life jackets?”
“I thought we were close to the shore.”
“What was the last thing she said?”
“I can’t remember.”
“Was she still above water when you made it to the shore with Crew?”
“No. I don’t think so.”
“Did you know the canoe was about to tip over?”
“No. It all happened so fast.”
The questions stopped for a while, but I knew he was still awake. Finally, after several minutes of silence, he said, “It just doesn’t make sense.”
“What doesn’t make sense?”
He pulled back, putting space between my face and his chest. He wanted me to look at him, so I lifted my head.
He touched my cheek, gently, with the backs of his fingers. “Why did you tell Crew to hold his breath, Verity?”
That’s the moment I knew it was over.
That’s the moment he knew it was over.
For a man who thought he knew his wife… That was the first time he’d ever really understood the look in my eyes. And I knew, no matter how hard I tried to convince him…he would never believe me over Crew. He wasn’t that kind of man. He put his kids first before his own wife, and that’s the one thing I dislike the most about him.
I tried, though. I tried to convince him. It’s hard to be convincing when tears are streaming down your cheeks and your voice is shaking when you say, “I said that as we were tipping. Not before.”
He watched me for a moment. And then he released me. Pulled away from me for what I knew would be the very last time. He rolled over and wrapped his arms around Crew, like he was his own personal body of armor.
I tried to lie still with no reaction so that he’d think I fell asleep, but all I did was cry quietly. When my tears began to increase, I walked to my office and I closed the door before Jeremy could hear me sobbing.
When I got to my office, I opened my manuscript and began to type. It feels as though there’s nothing left to say. No future to write about. No past to redeem.
Am I at the end of my story?
I don’t know what happens next. Unlike my prediction of Chastin’s murder, I don’t know how my life will end.
Will it be at the hands of Jeremy? Or will it be by my own hand?
Or maybe it won’t end at all. Maybe Jeremy will wake up tomorrow and see me sleeping next to him. Maybe he’ll remember all the good times, all the blow jobs, all the swallowing. And he’ll realize how much more time we’ll have to do those things now that we only have one child.
Or…maybe he’ll wake up convinced that Harper’s death was not an accident. Maybe he’ll report me to the police. Maybe he’ll want to see me suffer for what I did to her.
If that’s the case…so be it.
I’ll just drive my car into a tree.
I don’t even have time to absorb that ending before I hear Jeremy’s Jeep pulling into the garage. I stack the pages together into a pile and then glance at the monitor. Verity still hasn’t moved.
He suspected her?
I squeeze my neck, trying to ease all the tension that last chapter infused into my muscles. How could he still take care of her? Bathe her and change her for the rest of his life? Feel like he owes her the promise of his vows?
If he truly thought she killed Harper, how could he stand to be in the same house as her?
I hear the garage door open, so I walk to the office door and step out into the hallway. Jeremy is holding Crew in his arms at the foot of the stairs.
“Six stitches,” he whispers. “And a lot of pain meds. He’s out cold for the night.” He walks Crew upstairs to put him to bed. I don’t hear him check on Verity before he begins to make his way back down again.
“Want some coffee?” I ask him.
He follows me into the kitchen, where he hugs me from behind, sighing into my hair as I start a pot of coffee. I lean my head against his, full of so many questions. But I say nothing because I don’t even know where to start.
I spin around while the coffee brews and wrap my arms around him. We hold each other in the kitchen for several minutes. Until he releases his hold on me and says, “I need to shower. I have dried blood all over me.”