“Tell me again about the last time you saw her.”
“Seriously? I’ve told you at least a hundred times.”
“Then we’re gonna make it a hundred and one and a hundred and fifty if need be. Tell.”
Evan Mulraney sighed and ran a hand through his hair, the other hand loosely clasped around his tepid cup of police station coffee. Detective Don Belarus stood over him with his arms crossed, waiting for his story with a glare.
“In the morning, two days before Christmas. She got up and dressed before me and was on her way out the door to go shopping. I hadn’t even gotten out of bed yet. She came in to the bedroom to tell me where she was going and kiss me goodbye.”
“Why didn’t she just leave a note?”
“I don’t know.”
Belarus snorts. “You don’t know?”
“Cause she loved me.”
“Why are you such an asshole?”
The detective’s face didn’t change and he didn’t wait a beat before firing the next question.
“What did she go shopping for?”
“Wrapping paper. God, I’ve told you this over and over -”
“And over again, I know. Why did she just leave like that? Why didn’t she give you the option to come with her? Do you think she wanted to get away from you? That maybe she had someone she wanted to meet that morning?”
“No, I told you, she just let me sleep in. She knew I’d think it was an annoying chore. She was doing something nice for me.”
The detective smiled and barked a laugh.
“Oh, disappearing was her way of doing something nice for you, huh? Making it look like you did something to her right before Christmas, that’s love, oh yeah. That’s how I see it.”
“Look, are you going to arrest me or not? I’m really getting sick of being dragged down here practically every other goddamn day.”
“No Mulraney, you’re not under arrest. Yet.”
Evan stood up and walked out of the interrogation room. Today’s interview was over.
He strode out into the crowded cubical maze, full of cops. They called it the bullpen. Evan felt like a prize steer on the way to slaughter.
Pictures of his pretty wife’s face, in full color, bore down on him from the bulletin boards.
MISSING in bold, capital letters.
Hannah Mulraney. 27. 5’5, green eyes, dirty blond hair. Last seen December 23.
Every cop’s eye was on him as he made his way out, questioning him, every look a single thought:
What did you do to her?
Hannah, where are you, and why the hell did you do this to me?
Next Friday is my parent’s 20th wedding anniversary.
It also happens to be the seventh anniversary of the last time I saw your face.
Seven years have passed since you told me you loved me and I believed you meant it for the first time.
Seven years have gone by since you told me you wanted babies, that you wanted to start our life.
Seven years since all I ever wanted exploded spectacularly in my face.
“You know I can never be with just one person for the rest of my life.”
“You know I’m going to cheat on you, you know I sleep with all my friends.”
“I’ll always love you, but you know I can’t be the man you want me to be … right?”
That was news to me.
So I ran out the door and out of your life.
The last time I saw you was through a veil of tears as I was starting my car, you were standing in your doorway with your cellphone to your ear, staring at me.
Who were you calling?
How was the rest of that day for you?
That week, that year?
The last I knew, you were moving up in your company and had moved to California (La Jolla?), exactly where I knew you wanted to be.
We were still friends on Facebook, then. I would look at your profile every once in a while and see what you were doing, so happy without me.
You moved in with a man.
You came out.
I can’t say I was surprised.
I deleted that Facebook account.
But for so long I wanted to hold on.
I obsessed over running into you. I was convinced that if we saw each other again our lives would change.
When I visited Arizona a few years ago we took a road trip and traveled through southern California from LA down to San Diego, and for an entire 24 hours my heart beat faster knowing that the potential for bumping in to you at a gas station or that place we got Mexican take-out was far greater than it was back home.
I always imagined this dramatic reunion, something out of a damn rom-com, where we see each other and realize what we’ve both been missing all this time and fall into each other’s arms and just start over, go back to that place, that time when we loved each other.
Then last week, a random click.
Your public Facebook page.
You’re back in Connecticut.
You’ve been living 20 minutes away from me for the last year and a half.
My heart stopped.
And when it started again it wasn’t beating for you anymore.
Seven years and then I know, finally, for sure.
We’re never going to be together again.
We’re never going to have those beautiful brown babies.
I’m never going to marry that man I thought was the love of my life.
You with those brown eyes and dimples and the softest hands in the world.
I’ll probably still love you ’til the last beat of my heart.
But, this is my heart.
You can’t break it again.
You can go ahead and break someone else’s.
And you will, won’t you?
I’m just glad it won’t be mine.
Seven years, and I think this is: over you.
And my heart is still beating.
It’s beating without you, and I’m breathing deeply again.
There was a time when I knew your face
your voice, your hands, your scent, your smile –
I knew you, effortlessly.
There was total instant recall,
none of this having to pluck memories from the abyss
and hope they’re not tainted by time.
I could write your memoirs and sing your gospels,
I could trace your ghost with shut eyes,
There was a time when I knew you.
There was time,
Written for Trifecta Week 105.