Authors note: This is a follow on from an earlier story ‘Behind Closed Doors’ and is one of several additions that are a work in progress
The night was clear but cool.
It was late summer; possums rustled in the trees and the streetlights shone intermittently on the road. The neighbourhood was quiet as people went about their ordinary lives. How I long for the ordinary, but my job was anything but ordinary. Always being on high alert and seeing the side of society that most people pretend doesn’t exist.
Silence is something that most people take for granted. My mind never allowed me such a privilege. I think back to my childhood; I longed for the silence in those commission flats as I sat in my room. I worked my way out, made a break and given my own family more than I’d ever had. I was still trapped. I walk past the orderly suburban homes; lights on in living rooms, people watching television and sitting with loved ones. But they were completely oblivious to the dangers of the world which existed around them. Shadows loomed large across the street. Figures lurking around corners and looking for an opportunity to pounce. My own demons too lurked in the shadows; the struggle to keep them at bay was constant.
At times, my job seemed impossible. An endless loop of traumatic visions often haunted me in my dreams. No matter what I tried to do, they’d always return. For some reason I always remembered their names, their pale and expressionless faces were devoid of life as they visited me in my dreams. Even the most insignificant details were etched in my mind.
The last crime scene, the crimson red blood in the kitchen was one of the worst I’d seen. I wasn’t prepared for the horrors that awaited me, even though I’d seen it all before. You never get used to it; you just learn to separate yourself from the horrible realities of life. I always wondered how the victims can be so strong. Misha kept it all together when it would have been so easy for her to crumble. I couldn’t imagine the trauma she was living, but I too was in the precipice and barely hanging on. I spent many sleepless nights, aimlessly wandering the streets and enjoying the solitude.
If I didn’t sleep, I didn’t dream.
As the sun began to rise and the neighbourhood slowly awoke from its slumber, I headed home. I was on a day shift this week, but I knew there would be little reprieve. I walked in to find my wife at the coffee machine. She was getting the lunches ready for the boys. I see the file from the last case on the kitchen table and quickly put it in the drawer. No one needed to see that.
“Where have you been love?”
“Couldn’t sleep. Didn’t want to keep you awake. Do you need a hand?”
“No, I’m fine thanks. Why don’t you have a shower? Freshen up for work?”
She was a stoic woman. We’d been together a long time and we’d certainly had our ups and downs. I don’t think she ever got used to the job. I mean, nobody ever does. Deep down I knew she resented it for what it did to me and to us, being the wife of a detective was not an easy task. I tried my best to play a straight bat, but I couldn’t lie to her. I loved her. I felt terrible that at times I was distant and lost in my own thoughts when she needed me. Drifting further and further into the abyss.
As I stepped into the shower the water was soothing, relaxing my muscles and easing the pounding ache in my head. But the dread and crippling anxiety welled up inside me. I tried desperately to keep it in, like I did every other day, but my body relented, sliding down the cold smooth tiles. I huddled in the corner of the shower, clutching my knees and rocking back and forth. The water ran over me as I sat there sobbing uncontrollably. Helpless and broken, the war in my mind was raging. Submerged in the depths of despair and unable to see a way out.
I’d given the job everything, but I was on the cusp of losing it all.
To be continued.
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