CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Word Count: 546
In some of the nights during the months following his wife’s death, he would wake up drenched with sweat, his throat tightened with an emotion he could not quite specify. It wasn’t terror, because he, Conrad Ecklie, did not fear anything to a level at which it could terrorise him. It wasn’t sadness, because, a tight throat probably would have indicated crying, getting overly upset, and he didn’t get that sad, even in his sleep. When he woke, he could turn to his side if he weren’t already on it, and look at the empty space next to him. Through the darkness of his bedroom, he would look at it, and stare the empty space down until he could force his eyes to remain closed once more. As the months passed by him, as he changed the sheets on his bed every now and then, he ignored the stains of blood on the mattress, and gradually could not smell the scent of his wife that wasn’t ever there. Before, he could smell it, because it still lingered in the hidden corners of the house, in a pillow case she had touched after applying perfume, in the chair she used to sit on. Time had passed though, things had been cleaned, fresh air had come inside his darkened abode and the smell left him. He could remember her scent, it was fruity, and sweet, but yet it was spicy and it had tickled his nose sometimes. He could remember what it had been like, and, for a moment, even grasp, as he inhaled deeply, what it really had smelled like, but he could never get it exactly. Time had dulled his sharp memories, and, besides, nothing he could ever imagine, would smell like the real thing.
One night, not long after the murder, his aunt stopped by his house, late at night, while he was already in bed reading, in the back of his mind absently dreading what hidden, unseen terrors his nightmares would bring him. Hearing knocking, the man got up and answered the door. Seeing her face red and puffy, he smiled at her, welcomed her inside, shut the door and hugged her tight. She had been fond of his wife, his wife had been family. Like him, she had lost a third member of her family to vicious murder, and it tore her up on the inside. Except, she could cry, and he, didn’t. His aunt pulled container of cake slices and a flask of coco from a spacious bag and they sat down together in the lounge room on the couch. They switched on the TV, and watched a late night movie, and while they talked, they stayed mostly silent. She just needed the company, and he just needed the company, and a good excuse not to sleep on that night. They both forgot what had happened in that house, all the horrors it had witnessed, and focussed on something else, something fictional and easy to understand while they ate and drink and chatted quietly in Greek. What they needed was company, and what they had was company. Nothing horrible, dark and raging, no emotion or visage that the night brought about then, could harm them, because at least, they had, each other.