"Hello," my voice was sleep filled and hoarse. I held the receiver to my face and tried to focus.
"Lynn, you are there! I have been calling your number for a half hour." It was Cinda and she was sounding very put out by my not answering.
"I just heard it now. When did the power go out?" I was pulling the receiver the length of its cord trying to see the grandfather clock in the far corner of the living room. The lights were not turned on in the house and it was hard to make out the hands in the dark. As my eyes adjusted I saw the time was only a little after seven. I had been asleep for maybe three hours but I felt exhausted like I had been awake for days. Naps tended to wear me out more when I hadn't been getting much more than a few hours of sleep. I wanted to crawl right back in my bed.
Cinda replied, "Lynn, it was out for two hours. It just came back about forty five minutes ago."
So she tried to call me right after the power came back up. I wondered where my mom was as I walked back to the end table and switched on a light next to the phone. The bulb flickered as if tired then brightened before flaring out. Sighing I tuned out Cinda while trying to bring a little light into the nearly pitch black room. The cord was stretched as far as I could pull it deep into the furniture crowded living room when I found my mom curled up behind the chair next to the second light I had been trying to reach. I dropped the receiver and it snapped back towards the phone and I half heard Cinda babbling while I went to my mom's side. In the dark I shuddered.
"Mom," I knelt by her side and brushed the gray and black hair back from her face. My hand touched cold skin. Her eyes were open and vacant. I reached for her wrist to find it wet. Diffused light coming from the entry hall afforded me little colors. The smell hit me. Coppery and earthy -- blood, my mom's blood, it was on my hands and then I noticed that her wrists were not pulsing but slowly dribbling from my lifting her wrist up to check for a pulse. There wasn't going to be a pulse I already knew. I dropped her hand and was slightly sickened by the thud it made free falling to the hardwood floor. Then I saw that in rushing to her side I had kneeled into a wet puddle of blood next to my mom's body. I gathered up the hem of my nightgown and folded the blood soaked flannel back towards me as if I would be able to save her blood to put back inside later once help arrived.
A scream came from the receiver a few feet from me, "Lynn, pick up the phone! Where did you go? What is wrong?" Cinda was in a panic and I wasn't much further behind her. Taking a deep breath I tried to calm myself.
Still holding the hem up with one hand I used my other hand awkwardly to pick up the receiver, "Cinda, hang up and call the police for me. I think something is wrong with my mom." With that I hung up the phone.
Feeling very fragile, I walked to the laundry room and removed my nightgown cautiously. Still bewildered at finding my mom, I put the garment on the utility table and went back to my room naked. Eventually I pulled on some jeans and a sweat shirt after thoroughly scrubbing my body free of my mom's blood. I walked out of my room just as someone came up and pounded on the front door.
I saw a blue and white light spinning into shadows out the window front that was immediately joined by blaring noise of the local fire department arriving and the red light coming off the emergency vehicle danced across my face as I opened the front door. Two men in dark blue uniforms brushed past me saying, "Where is she?"
I looked at the men and saw one copper plated name tag with something Green and the other red faced man had Tom Jorgenson on his. I looked at the first man who spoke. Caleb Green. Yes, that was what his name was. Time was acting funny and I was somewhat confused at the speed of their arrival carefully I replied, "She's behind the chair in the room over there," I pointed out the living room while they brushed past me. The one with the Jorgenson name badge was lugging a tackle box in his right hand as he brushed past me. I didn't think he would find any fishing holes in my house. It was then I figured out they were firemen or something to do with the fire department emergency crew because of the two new men who were on my doorstep right behind them. They were men I knew. Bobby Curry was three years ahead of me in high school and had gone straight into the local sheriffs department after graduation. The man with him was older and looked tired. I vaguely recalled seeing him at some town functions. I couldn't remember his name all I could think was that given those deep rings under his eyes he must be another insomniac.
"Lynn, right?" Bobby's voice was deeper than I remembered and he sounded more grown up. He possibly went by Bob now, was something that flashed through my mind as I said, "Yes, and you are Bobby Curry, right?"
Stupidly it was out of my mouth before I could edit my thoughts. I should have called him Bob probably. The man with him bit back a small smile confirming that thought for me. Bob Curry, thankfully, didn't correct me, "Yes, and this is my partner, Gary Fisher." That was nice that he introduced us.
I stood there and then recalled my manners.
"Excuse me, won't you come in?" My mom would have been proud of me. I could hear the other two men softly talking in the living room. They sounded very serious. I knew someone would have questions for me once they were done. So I led both policemen into the house while heading for the kitchen and began to make coffee. People always had coffee in a crisis I remembered somewhat disjointedly while wandering around the room. Bobby had followed me into the kitchen while his partner had peeled off at the living room to see how dead my mom was. I could have told him very dead but figured that they would know this soon enough without my help.
"Lynn, stop fussing with all of that and come sit at the table with me," Bobby said while taking a seat and gesturing across from him. He didn't realize he had picked my spot and the place he was waving me towards was my mom's usual place at the table. I shook my head and leaned against the counter waiting for the coffee to finish perking. The glass top kept filling with brown liquid and the pot made its usual agonizing noises as the brew made its way through the system. I looked at the room in the reflection from the steel finish and saw some distorted images were chaotic at best. I felt like I was just as mixed up and blurry. Bobby had taken out a small notebook and was jotting down something while I watched the rhythm of the coffee washing up to the little glass bit and spurting down as it was churning to finish. The smell drifted up to me but I was still remembering the coppery blood smell from my mom. I don't know that I would ever be able to get that scent out of my head. I wanted a better memory for my last thoughts of my mom than a bloody corpse. I sighed and turned slowly back to Bobby.
He cleared his throat and said formally, "Lynn McKay is your full name, right?" He began to scratch down notes in his book.
"No, Gwendolyn Anne McKay," I said softly knowing I would probably never hear that again. After all my mom was the only one who used my full name in this small little town.
I wondered if I could leave once I buried her and go somewhere different. Bigger -- get lost in the crowd of impersonal people who hadn't known me since birth. It hit me that my dad's side of the family would have to be told about her death. If they even cared. Since I got the birthday letter I had a better idea how little they did care about her and what she wanted. The tone of the letter made it seem like she had blackmailed them into providing money for me. Given that I had never met them I had nothing to base any sort of evaluation on who they were nor, if I was honest, did I much care about them. It wasn't like they rushed out to meet me much less make any sort of attempt to visit since I was born. I hadn't exactly been running around the world or hard to reach for the past twenty-one years. They had the address. I wasn't exactly going to stop everything and tell them the news. Let them find out by a letter was my first somewhat bitter thought. I was not sure what I was going to do but that was something for later. Much later.
I glanced up from my mental wanderings to see Bobby staring at me with a look. He must have asked me something. I shrugged and said, "Sorry, what?"
I wasn't really sorry and didn't care much about what he wanted but knew I would have to answer his questions in order to find out what happened. I poured three cups of coffee while Bobby repeated his question, "What is your mom's full name?"
"Was you mean?" I said while plunking down a cup in front of him and pushing the sugar bowl towards him. I walked to the fridge and pulled out the cream while grabbing a few spoons. As I finished serving the coffee Gary Fisher joined Bobby sitting in my mom's spot. Relieved I retrieved the other two cups of coffee and sat in a different chair. I added a dollop of some cream and stirred clinking the spoon as I revolved the white liquid through the dark coffee. I sipped and looked to the other man, "So she's definitely dead right?"
Like I hadn't known that? He looked uncomfortable and scooped up a few heaping teaspoons of sugar into his coffee while composing his answer.
"Yes, she is." He finally replied while adding some cream and then sipping. He put his cup back down and looked over at me.
"What happened to her?" I asked. Bobby was looking impatient while tapping his pen on his pad. Oh, right, I forgot to answer his questions. Guess I wasn't supposed to ask anything. It wasn't like I had known there were rules to this sort of thing. I shrugged and continued to watch his partner waiting for an answer.
"Well, it appears her arms were sliced open," was all he said.
"Did she have a knife or what?" It had to be asked. I didn't recall seeing anything near her that was sharp but I wasn't at my best when I jumped up from her body.
He looked very uncomfortable, "Don't you worry about it, Lynn. It is Lynn, right?" Back to the name thing again it looked like.
"Did she do it to herself or did someone do it to her?" I was firm in my question and drank deeply from the coffee cup. It was a little weak for my tastes but the grimace on Bobby's face as he had tried to drink it black made me think I drank it a bit stronger than these men did. Bobby didn't meet my eyes as he added sugar and cream. I bit back a smile and continued to wait for another answer to one of my questions.
"We don't know yet. When we do we will give you all the information," Gary said quietly. He had aged in the time he had been away from us. Whatever he saw made him drawn and exhausted.