The girl who lived in the shadow

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9. Monica

14. 09. 2018.

Everyone was gathered in front of Hana’s house, waiting for the victim to come out and show her angelic face. The press, the police, and all the neighbors who wanted to know more about this innocent young girl. Hana looked perfect. Her hair was covering her pale face and her body was covered with long loose clothes to hide all of the bruises on her body.

But she wasn’t the one who caught my eye today. The one who caught my eye was my old friend that I haven’t seen for a while, and that made me wonder why the fuck was he here. He wasn’t family. He was no one. A rat.

Mr. Adrian Smith was walking down the path with his wife Joan. They looked exhausted. Especially Joan. Maybe she was baking those deliciously looking chocolate muffins for Hana, or maybe finally, after all those years, he fucked the brains out of her. But who knows? I wasn’t there to see it.

Both of them stood in front of the main door, exchanging a couple of words with Gersom who was trying to do his job. I narrowed my eyes at him. He looked suspicious. The way he played with his fingers, and always rubbed the backside of his neck told me that something - or someone - was bothering him.

“What are you looking at?” I jumped from the sudden presence in my room.

Turning around, I saw my mother, Natasha, walking towards me with a fresh bruise on her lower lip. Her blond hair was dirty from not washing it for days, and her once beautiful brown eyes were now dull.

“Nothing,” I answered, moving away from the ripped curtains on my window. She stood next to me and looked down at the people.

“You shouldn’t look at them like that. It’s rude,” she said.

“Don’t worry. They can’t see me.”

She shook her head. “You are just like your grandfather.”

I looked at her from the corner of my eye. “It’s better him than your or father,” I said. “Did you call him for lunch?”

“He said he will be here in thirty minutes,” she answered.

“When was that?”

“Three hours ago.”

I nodded. “Of course that piece of shit won’t come on time. He is an incapable bastard.”

She grabbed my hand and made me look at her. “You don’t think I don’t know that?”

I pulled my hand away. It hurt, but I didn’t care. “I should have killed him when I still had a chance.”

“Don’t talk like that, Monica,” she scoffed.

“Talk like what?” I made a step forward. “Grandfather was right, the only thing he deserves is a bullet between his eyes.”

“Monica...” She reached for my hand, but I moved away. I looked down at my hand, and I saw the way it shook.

“I’m going out. I have something to take care of.” I grabbed my black jacket and walked to the door.

“What should I tell your father when he returns home?” she asked.

“Tell him that I’m at Romana’s because of school.”

“Okay, but where are you going?”

I turned to her just as I was about to walk out of the door. “Hana’s.”

“Are you going to say hi to her?”

I smirked. “Something like that.”

~ - ~

I was standing in Hana’s backyard, freezing from the coldness, but I have to know what was going on. It was my duty to know.

I looked at everyone in the house from the window that was placed next to a small tree. The tree was enough tall and thick for me to hide behind it. The idiots won’t even see me.

All of them were gathered in the kitchen. They were talking about something while Mrs. Petrovich was preparing Hana’s favorite dish. By preparing, I mean, almost cutting off her fingers a couple of times due to stress. She was talking to Adrian Smith who was leaning on the kitchen counter, eating one of his wife’s muffins that she made for Hana.

I searched for Mr. Petrovich through this window, but I couldn’t find him. He wasn’t in the kitchen or in the living room. I guess he was somewhere private where no one could hear or see him.

I moved a little closer to the window, stood on my tiptoes, and looked for Hana. It took me a while to find her, but I eventually did.

She was sitting on the couch, talking to Joan who gave her a chocolate muffin. She looked shy. Almost like she didn’t want to talk to Joan. I don’t blame her. No one want’s to talk to Joan. She is rude, inappropriate, and always makes everyone around her feel horrible.

The TV was on too, but they didn’t seem to bother about the news that was coming up next. I glanced at Mrs. Petrovich again who left the kitchen station and started to walk towards my window. Fuck.

I quickly ducked down, leaned on the cold wall, and waited for her to open the window. It took her a minute to open the window, and then everything became better. Now I could hear them too.

I waited for a moment before finally standing up and looking back through the window. Everyone was standing at the same place as before, but now, Mr. Petrovich decided to come back too.

“It was the mayor,” he said.

Mrs. Petrovich placed the knife down and looked at her bellowed husband. “Why did he call?” she asked him.

Mr. Petrovich turned to Hana and said, “Hana, sweety. Could you please turn up the volume on the TV. The mayor is on and I want to know what he has to say.”

Hana nodded her head. “Sure.”

“I can’t believe he did a press conference this early,” Mr. Smith said, but no one paid attention to him.

“He is the mayor and he has to spread the information. Yes, it’s a little bit unplanned, but people need to know what happened,” The sheriff said.

Mrs. Petrovich grabbed her husband’s hand and made him look at her. “Why did he call you? Is there something you are not telling me?”

He took her hands and gave them a soft squeeze. “Relax, honey. He and his wife wanted to know how she is doing and wanted to give her a break from babysitting their daughter.”

“For how long?”

“Until this mess is cleaned,” he answered.

Mrs. Petrovich nodded her head and started to chop the vegetables again. She was staring at Hana who enjoyed Joan’s company. They were both eating the chocolate muffins. Especially Hana. She loved those muffins. They were her favorite.

Her eyes moved to Joan who shook her head. And then it hit me. She brought her here for Hana. She knew that Hana loved Joan’s muffins, and also knew, that when Hana is stressed, she eats a lot, but also talks a lot. She would be able to talk to Joan about what happened that night. But so far, Hana is like a hard rock. She won’t say a word to her. I’m sure of that.

“Did you thank Mrs. Smith for the muffins?” she asked her daughter.

Hana looked at her from the couch and nodded her head.

“She did,” Joan answered for Hana. “She almost ate them all.”

“Don’t eat them all. I’m making you your lunch,” she said.

Hana nodded her head. “I won’t.”

Mr. Smith smiled at Hana and that made me sick before returning his attention to the sheriff. “Did the two detectives found something?”

“They are still questioning the suspect and Margareth’s brother, John.”

“What about John?” Hana asked from the other side of the room. Her eyes were focused on a little blond girl on the screen.

Her father moved away from the kitchen counter and walked to her. “He is brought to questioning. Do you know something about him that might help us?”

Hana turned the TV off, placed the remote on the small wooden table in front of her, and stood up slowly. “He was Margareth’s adopted brother. His parents died when he was young so father Dan took him to the orphanage before he legally decided to adopt him for Margareth.”

“I didn’t know that he was adopted,” Joan said.

Mrs. Petrovich looked at her confused. “Who told you that?”

Hana walked to the kitchen with her feet bare. “Romana.”

“Romana?” Her father asked. This is getting interesting. If the detectives’ question Romana and no one back ups her story, things could get ugly for both of them.

“I swear to God, sometimes that girl knows more than she should.” Mrs. Petrovich rolled her eyes. She was right. Romana knew things more than other people in this town, but she didn’t know everything. She wasn’t me. I’m the one who knows everything in this place.

“Don’t talk to her like that. She is nice,” Hana said, taking a chocolate muffin from the plate.

“She is right, Natasha. You’ve been blaming that girl for what happened to Hana since the moment Hana came to the hospital,” Mr. Petrovich said.

She opened the oven and placed the pan in. She looked like she wanted to kill him. “Well, I’m sorry if I offended her, but that girl promised to keep her safe. She knew that Hana doesn’t like those places like her, and yet she wasn’t there. She left her, Mario. She left her alone!” She pointed a finger at him.

Joan stood up from the couch and raised her hands in the air. “I think it’s time for you to calm down. I mean, look at your daughter, she is scared,” she told Mrs. Petrovich.

Mrs. Petrovich looked at her daughter who was staring at her with her eyes widen. She was scared of her own mother.

Mrs. Petrovich sighed and reached for her daughter. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell like that.”

Hana nodded her head. “It’s okay, just don’t say those things again. It isn’t Romana’s fault.” She glanced at her father then back at her mother.

There was a knock on the main door and everyone turned around to see the two detectives walking into the house.

Hana stared at them just like her mother. Both of them were confused, but not as confused as her father - the sheriff - was.

“Is everything all right, detectives?” he asked them. “What are you doing here?”

I wondered the same thing. They weren’t supposed to be here. At least not yet. It was too early.

Detective Watkins walked to the kitchen counter. “I called you three times and you didn’t answer.”

The sheriff checked his phone and saw three missed messages. “I’m sorry, I must have...”

She cut him off before he had any chance to finish, “I don’t give a fuck. We have bigger problems than your phone right now.” Her eyes moved to Mr. and Mrs. Smith who stared at her.

“Who are you? You can’t be here without permission,” she said.

“These are Adrian and Joan Smith. They are our neighbors,” Mrs. Petrovich said.

“It’s nice to meet you, detective...” Joan reached for her hand but the detective just stared at her hand.

“So you are Adrian Smith,” she said, addressing Mr. Smith. “I’ve been searching for you.”

I watched how the other detective took out the cuffs and started walking to Mr. Smith.

“Go to your room, Hana,” Mrs. Petrovich whispered to her daughter. Hana nodded her head and walked out of the kitchen to the small hallways connected to the kitchen. Her eyes caught mine, and for a moment, I thought she saw me. But she didn’t. Her eyes went straight through me to her backyard.

Hana stood in the hallway, listening to the chaos that was about to burst in her kitchen.

“What did you do Adrian?” Mr. Petrovich growled as he turned him around to the kitchen table. He leaned his body on the table, pinning his hands behind his back. The other detective came and handcuffed him.

“I didn’t do anything,” he answered, “Please let me go.” The poor thing. His weak begging won’t get him anywhere, but he was too naive to realize that.

“Please let him go,” Joan begged too. She tried to reach for her husband, but Mrs. Petrovich grabbed her and pulled her away.

“You didn’t do anything? That’s what you have to say?” Detective Watkins grabbed his right hand and started to drag him. “I will deal with you and your lies in the station.”

“Why are you arresting him? He didn’t do anything?” Joan started to cry.

“Get him out of here,” Detective Watkins said to her partner. Her partner nodded his head and with two other police officers, he dragged Mr. Smith out of the house.

“I’m so sorry, ma’dam, but your husband is now the main suspect in the Larson case.” She tried to reason her, but that only made Joan more pissed.

“Larson?” She pushed Natasha’s hands down. “Are you saying that my husband killed that girl?!” She pushed the detective.

“Calm down, or I will arrest you for insulting a police officer and for interfering in an investigation.”

“My husband didn’t do anything!” she screamed at her. The sheriff interfered, dragging Joan away from the detective.

“Calm down, Joan,” Mr. Petrovich whispered in her ear.

“How can I calm down when this black bitch is taking my husband away,” she spat out.

My eyes went to the detective who frowned, shook her head, and while taking her cuffs out, she walked to Joan. She grabbed her and pushed her to the kitchen counter.

“Mario!” Mrs. Petrovich screamed as she went to help her friend. Her husband reached for her and pulled her away. “It’s better if you don’t interfere in this,” he whispered in her ear. She nodded her head as she watched her friend being cuffed.

Joan kicked, trying to free herself from the detective. It was a side of her I haven’t seen before and that made me angry. I should have known this side of her because now I wouldn’t be shocked by her reaction.

The door opened again and the second detective walked in. He looked angry, but not surprised when he saw his partner arresting Joan.

“Do you need help?” he asked her, but she shook her head. “No,” she said, “I will take this one out.”

She walked past him while holding Joan by her hand. She dragged her out of the house where the reporters will eat her alive.

The sheriff released his wife, walked past the detective to the door. He walked out and closed the door behind him.

“Are you okay?” The detective asked Mrs. Petrovich.

She nodded her head, leaning to the kitchen counter. “I’m fine. I just need some water.” Taking out a glass, she poured some water and drank a couple of sips before the glass fell from her hand into the kitchen sink.

“Mom!” Hana stormed out from the hallway into the kitchen. She walked to her mother and grabbed her hand, checking if she had any cuts.

“I’m fine, Hana!” she shouted at her daughter.

Hana stepped away from her mother, her eyes starting to water.

Her mother glared at her for a moment before the anger she had disappeared. “Excuse me, I need to go to the bathroom,” she whispered. Mrs. Petrovich walked past detective Birsen into the hallway where she disappeared behind the corner.

Hana stood there in her place, her hands shaking. She stared at them for a moment before fisting them.

The detective stared at her. “Are you okay?” he asked.

She nodded and whispered, “Yes.” Her voice was so low that he missed her answer.

“Are you okay, Hana?” he asked again, but this time, he placed his hand on her shoulder.

“I am. I just need to fix this.” She moved away from his touch and stepped to the sink. She took out the glass with her bare hands and threw the glass into the garbage bin beneath the sink.

“Let me.” He moved her over so he could take her place. Detective Birsen took out the shattered glass and threw it to the bin.

The main door suddenly opened, and I saw a look of fear in Gersom’s eyes when he saw how close the detective stood next to Hana.

“Is everything okay? I heard screaming so I wanted to check if everything is all right,” he said in a calm tone. But everything else wasn’t calm. It screamed jealousy and hate, and I have a feeling that someone was going to die because of it.

~ - ~

It was almost 11 p.m. The lights are about to get turned off, and yet, I was still here, walking down the street to the house. I looked around myself to see if someone was following me, but there was no one. I was alone. Like always.

The house in front of me still had lights on, and I watched how doctor Boseman took her glass of water and walked up her browns stairs to her bedroom. She turned the lights off, and a second later, the next set of lights appeared upstairs from her bedroom.

It allowed me to walk down the rocky path to her old, but modern porch. I stepped on the porch, and the black wood beneath my feet made a squicky noise. I waited a second before I took another step towards the white door. I looked at the white door and how hideous it is. The door had scars, stains all over it. It reminded me of her. She was like that. Trying to act perfect, but she wasn’t.

Leaning down, I moved a plant away and picked up her spare key. Sometimes I can’t wrap my head around how ignorant can she be. Someone could find that key and break into her house while she is gone or if she is asleep.

I unlocked the door and slowly pushed it open. I tried to stay as quiet as I can, but the fucking door is so old that as soon as I opened it, it made a squicky noise.

Stepping inside her house, I closed the door behind me, taking the key with me. I made my way up to her bedroom, staring at all of the portraits I made for her. All of my masterpieces that she hanged on her dirty old walls. Some of them were from ten years ago. I can’t believe how fast time flies. It feels like it was yesterday when I first drew her something.

The hallway to her bedroom was small and there was no light coming from the street lights so I have to make sure that I don’t break something in this darkness.

The door to her bedroom was just in front of me, and when I reached for the handle, I could feel that she didn’t lock her bedroom. It was another stupid mistake she made.

Taking a deep breath, I opened the door and piked in. The light from the street had cast a shadow on her face. She looked peaceful. Angelic in her sleep. But that peace will soon be over.

I walked to her bed and stared down at her, watched how she was fighting her nightmares until her eyes didn’t open. She screamed when she saw me hovering over her body in my nightgown.

“What are you doing here?!” she breathed heavily.

“I need to talk to you,” I said.

Her eyes went down my body to my bare feet. “Where are your shoes?”

“It doesn’t matter. I don’t have much time anyway. He will soon return, and I need to get home before he does.”

Her hands went through her hair before she rubbed her face. “I thought your father...” She stopped and looked at me for a moment. “How did you get in here?” she asked.

I threw the keys on her bed. “You shouldn’t leave your spare key on plain sight, doctor Boseman. Someone can find it and break into your house.”

“Oh, God, Monica.” She threw her blankets away and sat on the edge of the bed. I looked down at the empty space that she left for me so I sat down next to her.

“Why are you here?” she asked again.

“I went to visit Hana today,” I answered. I tried not to look at her so I looked at the giant mirror on the wall. It scared me because when I look at myself, I see a scared girl. And I don’t want to be scared.

“How was it?”

“They arrested Adrian Smith.” I glanced at her but by the look on her face, she already knew that.

“I heard, but how was Hana. Did you talk to her?”

I shook my head. “No. She was busy.”

“You are not here because of her, aren’t you.” She moved a piece of hair behind my ear.

“I don’t think Adrian killed Margaret.” I finally admitted. “I have this strange feeling that her death was only the beginning.”

Doctor Boseman cupped my cheek and made me look at her. “It’s not your job to worry about things like that, okay?”

I nodded. “But...”

“No buts,” she cut me off before I even had a chance to say. “You are a good girl, Monica. Don’t fight someone else’s battles, okay?”

Yes, I’m a good girl, doctor Boseman.

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