THE SEVENTH CROSS

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ANGIE

She was an absolute beauty by any measure. And that was part of the problem. Most guys wouldn’t even approach her as she was obviously out of their league. So, as many beautiful women can attest to, she spent most evenings with a good book, a glass of wine, and her faithful cat, Cuddles.

But after a time that became boring and soon Angie found herself scouting areas of the city late in the evening; areas which she would never have dared venture even in broad day light. Just how much was she willing to push the envelope to get something more out of her life than this boring, mundane existence that she now shared with her cat?

That’s how she met Jason. On the pier. Nearly midnight. Not a place she should have been at any hour of the day, especially alone. And there he stood; he seemed to be smirking at her, and it irritated her.

“What are you staring at?”

“You.” There was that smirk again. And then “You shouldn’t be here. It’s not safe.”

Before she realized what she’d said, she blurted out “You’d protect me, wouldn’t you?”

And that’s exactly what happened.

That lead to a drink, and to a conversation that would last for hours. As the sun began to rise, she realized that she had spent the entire night with this complete stranger, and that she absolutely needed to see him again!

She hurried home with barely enough time to shower, and change, and still make it to school in time to lead her Grade 3 class on the field trip they had planned for this day.

She was an extraordinary teacher, loved by staff and children alike. If only all teachers had her love for life, and for learning, and for everyone around her! What a joy!

But she couldn’t get her mind off the stranger on the pier. There was something about him, and even with a day’s growth, she couldn’t help but notice how handsome he was. And, he seemed interested in her! She had to see him again! Tonight!

So she returned to the pier that evening but he wasn’t to be found. Strange. She was positive that he had enjoyed the evening as much as she had. So she waited, and just as she was about to call it a night, she noticed a lone figure walking towards her. Please Lord, let it be him! Funny, after all that conversation, she still didn’t know his name.

That’s because he had purposely not told her, but, he had mentioned that he was from Seattle. He shouldn’t have done that. And now here she was again. He hadn’t asked for this. She had come to him; not him to her.

There was no one around as usual. He’d made sure of that. Now it was just the two of them. But when dawn began to signal its appearance, it was time to go. But one of them would remain.

They found her body the next morning. At first they thought she was just sleeping. She looked so peaceful leaning up against the pier . . . and she had a tiny cross dangling from her fingers . . .

Why did she have to come to the pier? Why? The silent scream that came from his lips, though unheard by anyone else, threatened to consume him. “I’m sorry Mommy! Please don’t hate me Mommy!”

He awoke at the foot of his bed covered in sweat, knowing full well that he had lost the eternal battle yet again. He remembered nothing, but that was little reassurance. He made his way to the door, opening it a crack to reveal the morning paper that showed up as if my clockwork, each and every morning. With trembling hands, he scanned the headlines. It had barely made the paper; just a brief heading: Elementary teacher found dead under pier. That was it.

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