At King’s Cross, and feeling a little giddy, Peter stepped aboard the 0700 destined for Newcastle. Of course, he wouldn’t make it that far; his stop was in Darlington, slightly less than three hours away. He found a seat and sat, his gaze fixed out the window, a smile fixed upon his face. God, what a trip, he thought. Her eyes had been fantastic, and capturing that look at the precise moment of her death, the way her body deflated as her spirit left the earth, had been worth everything—the risks he took in coming down here, in visiting not just one but two of the London night clubs, and then the almost-altercation with the possessive young man who clearly thought the girl would go home with him instead. The stupid git. Thought too much of himself and probably ended up tossing off before the night was through. Thinking about that, Peter couldn’t help but snigger.
The car shuddered, and the train pulled forward. As the platform and station slid past the window, Peter laid his head back. He closed his eyes. Like watching a movie through a camcorder’s viewing screen, he replayed those last moments. How her skin quivered and prickled at his touch. How she groaned with the expectation of something pleasurable, and the liquored taste of her mouth as he gave her one last kiss. How that look of ecstasy surrendered first to confusion and then to panic and fear as the tide of realization set in.
Rewinding the scene, he played through it again. He listened to her words this time (“I don’t usually do this.”) followed by his own (“It’ll be a first for me, too.”) and then the sound of her giggle, mixed with the jingle of keys, as she unlocked the door to her flat. The cool air had tickled his face as he followed her through the living room, walking past the wicker and glass coffee table, past the Calico that fixed him with knowing eyes before it skittered away behind a ratty couch.
In her bedroom, a crocheted afghan covered the bed, and he remembered thinking that her mum had made it for her as kind of a going away present. The little girl had grown into an adult, living by herself now, and would need a little something to remind her of home. As the train snaked into the country, leaving the city behind, Peter smiled as he remembered how he had wrapped her in that blanket before he left. A small gesture of consideration on his part—at least the woman would know that the last thing to touch her daughter’s body had been something crafted by her own hands.
Again and again, he replayed the night, catching a little more of the details each time; and as Darlington slipped into view, he had completely framed everything about last night—the sights, the sounds, and the smells. Even the sharp aroma of voided piss, mixed with jasmine perfume, was clear in his mind.
In his apartment now, he took a moment to greet the dog, give it a scratch behind the ear, before he walked into the living room and sat down at his desk. With a touch and jiggle of the mouse, the monitor winked on. The cursor danced across the screen. A few clicks later, Peter located his manuscript and opened the file.
Typing a few paragraphs of narrative and then a line of dialogue (“I don’t usually do this.”) he quickly found his rhythm. The next three hours vanished like smoke in the wind. The smile never left his face.