I splash some water on my face in the bathroom, leaning heavily against the sink, unable to look at myself in the mirror.
The man who raised me, shaped me into the person I am today, is gone.
The pain is so sharp it makes my body tremble, and I walk out of the bathroom feeling like a zombie. They wheeled him out of the room just moments ago, and the room feels as empty as my heart.
I look to the heavens, not sure what the hell is up there, but so thankful that I was able to get what I needed to off my chest. I only wish I had done it sooner. I have E to thank for that. She opened me up like a damned sieve, and I was beginning to feel like a new man.
The nurse cleaning the room has her back to me, so I clear my throat to get her attention and to let her know I’m leaving. I’d call someone tomorrow about the plans for the body. I just can’t deal with it right now. She apparently doesn’t hear me, so I walk closer. “Ma’am?”
When she spins around, I realize that the she is a he. “Oh, um. I’m sorry.”
He waves away my concern. “Don’t worry about it. Happens all the time. Comes along with being short.”
I laugh awkwardly, and we talk for a few minutes before he moves on to the next room.
As I leave the hospital, I pull my phone out of my pocket. I have several missed calls and text messages from E. I can’t wait to get to her. There’s literally nowhere else I’d rather be than with her right now.
As I approach my car, something about the nurse clicks into place. I thought he was a woman, but he was a man. I think E’s stalker is a man, but…
Holy. Fuck. I think back to the hotel video of the stalker—the short stature and high voice. I think back to all the times this person has gone unnoticed. I think back to the hearts above the I letters in the note.
I don’t know for sure, but my instincts tell me I’m spot-on. My brain had been fighting to tell me this from the beginning. Something never felt right.
All this time we’ve been searching for a man. But the stalker is a woman.
I run to my car, step on the gas, and fly out of the parking lot, dialing E on the way.