Emma picked up the jagged piece of bone off the linoleum floor. She shifted her legs, placing one ankle over the other. Now, cross-legged she examined the palm-sized specimen. The small circular cracks extended out to the edges as if a spider herself had intricately weaved them. Emma reached out, gently running her finger across its surface; So smooth she thought. She’d never touched bone like this before, it was a new experience. The only other time she had seen remnants like this was years ago on her Grandparent’s farm just outside of Breslau. Her cat Garfield, aptly named due to his marmalade colouring and aptitude for stealing table scraps who when discovered, would be abruptly shooed away, had mysteriously disappeared. One day he was chasing Granny’s yarn as she sat by the fireplace and knitted a new colourful pair of socks or a new touque for one of her many grandchildren, the next he was nowhere to be found. Unfortunately to Emma’s horror, he had gotten himself stuck in the electric fence between their farm and the Edwards farm, not 1 kilometre away. His twisted, half composed body laid host to tiny maggots which as per their design, had devoured the now dead and petrified carcass. The once affectionate companion who for so many years offered the sweetest purs, soft head-butts and had warmed Emma’s feet on many a cold winter’s nights, had now been reduced a feast of meat.

Cradling the bone in her hand as if it was a piece of treasured porcelain, she rose to her feet and placed it gingerly in the back pocket of her jeans.  No time for that she thought and headed for the adjacent foyer. Ignoring the subtle stickiness underneath her feet Emma headed for the front door only stopping to slip into a pair of sneakers before opening the front oak door.

The spring air lingered with the aroma of lilacs and peat moss as a result of the beautiful newly planted garden that encircled the home. Her Grandfather had recently completed it choosing a variety of perenials, annuals and three lilac trees for his treasured Grand-daughter whom he had raised for the first seven years of her life. Emma paused, took a deep breath brining with it a sharp but bearable pain to her side. Choosing to ignore it she traversed down the old concrete steps of the home towards the walkway. Cars slowed then resumed their travel down the busy road out front as Emma approached her neighbour’s home in the hope of a more expediate way to her destination with perhaps the aide of neighbourly kindness. She reached to the pocket in her jeans still there and knocked on the red door of Mrs.Link’s home. She was a sweet old woman short in stature and who in her younger years had taught hundreds of children, including Emma, at McGregor School just down the road. Emma had hoped she was there and knocking once more she waited. As coincidence would have it Emma had purchased the home next to Mrs.Link, or Jessica as she insisted Emma address her, two years prior after her seperation due to its convenient and scenic location. Although Emma still, to this day, felt uncomfortable addressing her in such a familiar way. This was after all the same woman who once in seventh grade made her stay after class for a week cleaning chalkboard brushes in a rickety old machine which she was sure would have taken a sacrificial finger or two if she had given it the opportunity. All as punishment for pushing the ginger-haired bully Adrian O’Keef into a locker for pulling her braids in the busy hallway between homeroom and history. boys will be boys? bullshit she thought remembering the now antiquated rational given for his actions. Of course devices like the those were obsolete now replaced in favour for dry erase boards and smart boards. Devices which Emma now used in her own classroom, in the same school, down the street. Still no answer. 

Disapointed, yet not defeated, she continued on. She felt a squishy wet sensation in her shoes Well those socks are ruined Emma thought. They had been a present from her Grandmother last Christmas; the last one that Nora Bachman had lived to see before cancer had devoured and emaciated the once-proud, stout woman. The memory of her Grandmother laying peacefully, hands interlaced and placed across her body, floated into her mind. She remembered the smell of lilacs, her Grandmother’s favourite, and roses with a subtle undertone of baby powder that filled the artificially bright funeral parlour. She loved the scent of lilacs always reminding her of the evervescent stand-in mother figure who daily had ensured freshly cut lilacs were placed in the antique vase on the farmhouse kitchen.  I miss you, Grandma, today more than ever. Emma felt a small drop of rain trickle down her forehead and then a few more until it was a steady downpour. She felt it permeate through her hair. She weaved her fingers through the back of her raven locks and felt a sticky yet surprisingly hard clump release. It was slippery between her fingers yet had some substance to it, like a partially cooked egg or a consistency close to that.  “Where are you?” she heard that voice in her mind. She just fervently shook her head clenching her eyes shut attempting to banish it to the outermost reaches of memory. Another car slowed and lowered the passenger side window, the voice was muffled by the rain, the traffic and by Emma’s mind – she paid no attention and continued walking whilst keeping the voice at bay. 

With every footfall, intensified now by the rain seeping through, Emma felt the spongy wetness pervade into the space between her toes. The sensation reminded her of multiple university reading weeks she had spent with her housemates in Grand Bend. Early she would get up, quietly unzip the tent flap and being careful not to wake Kristy or Jen, sneak down to the water for a morning skinny dip. She felt the wet sandy lakebed crawl up between her toes, half enveloping the top of her feet while the waves lapped up further and further as she ventured deeper into the Lake Huron waters. The seaweed entangled itself around her ankles, then her thighs as little minnows danced around her hoping to find a meal, always to no avail. She had enjoyed the freedom the nakedness juxtaposed next to the openness of nature brought. The misty breeze and waves caressed her hips and then her stomach until she could feel its chill excite the buds upon her breasts. “I loved just watching you, last night” the voice returned. This time making out the deep husky undertone to it. “I was waiting for you.” She felt the burning sensation in her side intensify.  Almost there, almost there she reminded herself as she rounded the sidewalk corner recognizing the regal double lion statues at the base of double globe lights of the staircase. As Emma ascended the stone steps and opened the door. “Can’t say no to me now, can you slut!” Memories flooded through from earlier that morning.

“Don’t pretend you don’t like it, I know you’ve wanted this too. Don’t fucking fight it baby.” The weightiness of his body pressed against her spine was comprerssing her body onto the cold linoleum kitchen floor. The pain in her side felt like a red hot poker. She touched its wet warmth. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of his shadow cast on the wall thrusting back and forth that coinciding with his girth and fullness that tore her from within. Again she tried to push against him but he slammed her head against the floor his hand splayed ontop the right side of her face. That is when she noticed the Louisville bat her son Aspen had left out from the weekend before. She was grateful he was at his dad’s today, sparing him. Emma continued to writhe underneath her attacker; kicking, bucking, fighting. His grunts continued, his breathing sped and deepened until he collapsed the entirety of his body onto her. Using his moment of exhaustion to her advantage and using the blood that pooled underneath the hollows of her body she slid from underneath his emense frame. Her son’s bat was firmly in her hand now and with all the rage and strenghth she could muster . swung.

* * *

The Constable’s eyes widened with shock as Emma walked through the front door. Her once delicate features marred by the swollen left cheek and bleeding lip paled in comparison to the deep wound on her left temple. Her black hair, soaked from rain and blood, dripped small puddles onto the tile beneath her. But it was the black hilt of a knife contrasting the red-stained blue and white blouse protruding from her side that immediately caught his gaze. Emma approached the reception desk. She reached into her jean pocket with her fingertips and grasped the remnant of her attacker placing it ever so carefully on the desk. Red hair, interwoven with blood covered the convex surface, it rocked back and forth on its edges on the marble police counter.

“I’d like to report a crime.” Emma’s voice calm and stoic.

“Are you okay Ma’am, let me call an ambulance!” He fumbled for the phone receiver.

“He was too heavy, so I brought this instead. I hope this will help.” she collapsed onto the floor, barely sitting upright. ” His name is Adrian, he used to pull my hair in school.” tears flowed down her cheeks, leaving stripes of the underlining clean skin in their wake.

* * *

She couldn’t get her fingers around the jagged edges, digging her nails underneath she pulled and felt it release. I fell onto the ground. His skull caved in, face veiled in blood. One swing had turned into two which in turn became twenty, but Emma had no real way of knowing. She felt his breathing speed then pause under her knees; a final sigh as his last breath left his body. Her iPhone, her lifeline, was in pieces scattered underneath the microwave stand which was now speckled with crimson dots. The text messages it contained had started six weeks ago after a few innocent if steamy exchanges on Facebook messenger after his release from Warkworth. At first, she thought nothing of it. It was harmless, flirtatious, fun. However, it was only after she declined to meet him when the sobering reality of his past seeped in, that he escalated more and more until he was standing in her kitchen wild-eyed when she awoke, black hilted knife at his side. Emma reached down, pulling up her jeans from around her ankles. A warm stream of liquid ran down her thigh. Now, sitting crosslegged on the kitchen floor she picked up and touched the smooth bone. 

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