I came to the door and stared at it, barely aware of his presence in the room. At some point, the door opened and I was led back out to the visitors area. I shuffled along in a daze, hoping that I could make it out of the prison before I broke down.
He was gone. When he had taken his life in that cell, he had locked the explanation for why he killed my mother away forever.
I was buried under the rock he’d left, and I would never be free.
I walked out into the parking lot, a hollow pain throbbing in my chest.
Rain had begun to fall from the sky while I was inside and the day had somehow gotten even darker. Water quickly soaked through my clothes as I trudged to my car, but I barely felt it.
I was lost. Marco was gone. I was never going to know what had happened to my mom. He had trapped me in a world that made no sense. Just like he did to my dad. Hunter had been right. Marco had wanted to torture me one last time. In fact, he’d been willing to take his own life to do it. My heart felt like it was being sliced open bit by agonizing bit.
Tears welled warm at my eyes and mixed in with the rain pelting my face from the sky. The parking lot seemed to go on forever. My shoes sloshed through puddle after puddle. I was wading through quicksand, unable to make any progress. My hair stuck to my head like a threadbare blanket soaked through.
Why did I even come? I was stupid. So stupid. How could I really think something good was going to come from this?
I’d thought this would be the last piece to get away from my tragedy and focus on helping Hunter with his condition, but now I had only made things worse and felt more lost than ever. Hunter still couldn’t walk and I was spiraling downward again. I felt beaten and exhausted. Our happy ending had been doomed from the start.
I used the back of my hand to brush my hair out of my face, but it fell back down after a few steps. Sighing, I trudged along, keeping my head down so I could see.
A black cat scurried from the sidewalk where I walked. What was it doing out in the rain? I watched numbly as it scampered for cover under a parked Ford Explorer, also in black.
With my next step, my foot caught a crack in the sidewalk.
I tumbled over, unable to catch myself before I came crashing down onto my hands and knees. The impact hurt worse than I expected it to. I stayed there in shock for several seconds before rolling into a seated position.
My hands were scraped up, and my knees were going to be bruised. I sat and let the rain fall on me, gathering up the strength to stand.
A voice came dimly over the smack of the rain on the pavement.
Barely lifting my head up, I wiped the water from my face and squinted. A wheelchair-bound figure approached through the rain. Hunter.
I looked away, my lips trembling. Why had he come? I was ashamed for him to see me like this. Hunter had warned me not to do this and I ignored him. He was the person who was dealing with a real burden and yet here he was, coming to save me after I’d hurt myself like a child.
Hunter practically skidded to a stop, he had been wheeling himself so fast. He was soaked. His black t-shirt already clung tight to the skin of his torso, making his abs visible through the fabric as he breathed in and out.
“Lorrie,” he gasped, breathing hard. “Are you okay? What happened?”
I sat there, mute, and a sob swelled up in my chest. Everything came crashing down on me as I tried to put into words what had happened. My body convulsed as the sob broke free.
“Do you want to go back to the car? Your uncle drove. He’s waiting in the parking lot. Come on, we gotta get out of the rain.”
Hunter was almost shouting so that I could hear him over the roaring of the rain, but his words barely registered.
I continued to cry. Every time I got my breath, I tried to tell him what had happened, but the words caught in my throat and were swallowed by another sob before I got the chance. Drops of rain splashed against my face as I tried to speak.
Hunter bent down and took my hand carefully in his, seemingly waiting for me to calm down. It took a few minutes. We were both soaked, but he didn’t even seem to notice the rain. Finally I was able to choke something out.
“Killed himself,” I said, before another sob took hold of me.
He put his other hand over mine, his face grim. We stayed there for a few moments in silence. It felt like an eternity and yet like no time at all. The world around us passed by in a blur.
“I’m so sorry,” he said.
I bit my lip, trying to steady myself and finally having a little success. “No, I’m sorry,” I sobbed.
“What? What do you mean?”
The rain pounded down against my hair, matting it to my head. I wiped a thick strand away from my face and tried to tell him what I meant, but a fresh sob swelled in my throat and choked the words away.
“Lorrie, come on. Stand up. Let’s get out of the rain and dry off. I’m here to support you.”
Hunter pulled my arm up, trying to get me to stand but I couldn’t get up. The world felt less than real. He finally managed to get me to lean on his legs, and I rested on them.
“It’s never going to be over,” I finally choked out.
He shook his head. “We’ll get through it. Come on, let’s get out of the rain.”
But I couldn’t move. The full weight of everything that Marco had done was falling in place and I was buried under.
“He did it on purpose,” I murmured. “Why? He knew I’d come and he knew this would hurt me the worst way he could.”
Hunter squeezed my hand tighter. “I don’t know Lorrie. I wish I did.”
“Now he’s won. He killed my mom, that killed my dad, and now . . . ” I trailed off. Tears streamed endlessly down my face and sobs shuddered through me. When I’d sucked in a few breaths, I tried again. “It’s not like this was some accident. He had it out for my family. For me. Why?”
“I don’t know, but we gotta move on. We can’t stay here.”
Didn’t he understand? I’d already tried to move on and ignore it. That hadn’t worked. Now I’d tried to confront it head-on, and that hadn’t worked either. What was left? Nothing. I was stuck with being haunted and there was no way out.
The rain picked up, coming down in sheets against the pavement and on the cars nearby. It made a deafening amount of noise.
“Lorrie, are you hearing me? Stand up and let’s go. We’ve got the rest of our lives to live.”