3. Start Living

The Shrieking Llama, Windenburg,

20:54pm

In a dimly lit pub in Windenburg, Bailey’s cellphone vibrates on the shiny marble surface of the bar; she’s just turned it on after her 12-hour shift at the hospital.

She looks through her notifications, there’s one new voice message. She takes a sip from her glass as she listens to the recording and all the color drains from her face.

“Bailey? What’s going on, you look like you’ve just seen a ghost,” Emory taps her arm worriedly.

“I-Eh- I need another drink!” Bailey mumbles before she downs the rest of her drink and places the glass on the counter, her hands quivering like leaves against an autumn breeze.

“What’s going on? Is it Finn?”

Bailey shakes her head and bites her lower lip, a piss ass attempt to pull herself together. Finn Rhodes hasn’t returned any of her calls, and she’s left him plenty of messages since their run in Saturday night. Her sudden bewilderment is due to something far more serious than an ex not returning her calls.

“It’s Detective McGrath.” Bailey says when she’s sure she can talk without sounding hysterical. She’s amazed at herself, at how steady her voice sounds, even though her insides are wobbly like jelly.

“Who is he?” Emory asks, signaling at the barman to refill their glasses.

“I don’t know. But he’s taken over Eva’s case.”

Eva. A heartbreaking silence shatters the peace around them.

Bailey hasn’t talked about her sister in years, but Eva’s always on her mind. Losing her was like losing a part of herself, an integral limb. And for a long time, she had been convinced she’d never function fully again without her.

Those early days were the worst; she’d needed heavy sedatives just to get by. She vaguely remembers prom and graduation and all the silly things high school offers. The crushing, numbness, the feelings of overwhelming hollowness following her sister’s death, those she remembers clearly.

It had taken her years to claw her way out of her depression, years to pull herself together, years to start feeling almost human again. And now, with just one phone call, Detective McGrath is threatening to undo it all.

“What does he want?” Emory touches Bailey’s arm again and reaches for her hand. She squeezes it and doesn’t let go. Bailey is grateful. She needs something, someone to hold on to. She can feel her world spinning out of control again.

“He wants me to come in for an interview.”

“Are you going to go?”

“Why? What’s the point? Eva’s gone.”

“Maybe they have a new lead. Maybe they’ve found something.”

“And what good will that do?”

“You’ll finally get closure.”

“I already have closure!” Bailey snaps as she yanks her hand away.

“Right!” Emory nods slowly, and it ticks Bailey off even more.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” She hisses sharply at her friend.

“Nothing.” Emory shakes her head. She doesn’t want to fight. “Forget I said anything.”

“No. Tell me.”

“Okay, Bailey, you want to know the truth. You never got closure. You are far from getting closure. For years I’ve watched you go around tell everyone how okay you are, how fine everything is. But you are not. You want to know how I know you’re not okay. Your career choice. Your entire career is built solely on Eva’s death.”

“She’s my sister.”

“I know.”

“What would you do? What would you have done?” Funny thing about grief, everyone has an opinion about what should be done, but no one tells you how.

“I wouldn’t have stopped living.”

“That’s not fair!”

“I’m sorry. But everything you’ve done has been for Eva. Everything you do is for Eva. And she’s not here. She’s gone. She’s not coming back. And you need to let her go. And start living your life for you!

“I am living my life.”

“No. Bailey. You stopped living your life eight years ago.”

Emory gets up from her seat and walks out, leaving Bailey to sort out their bill.

Five minutes later the bill’s settled, and Bailey joins her friend outside. They start walking in the general direction of Emory’s place. Bailey plans to take an Uber back to San Myshuno from there.

For a while they walk in silence, each going over their conversation at the bar. Bailey hates admitting it, but Emory is right. Losing Eva had decided her fate. But she didn’t see it as bad thing. She went into forensic psychiatry so she can work closely with law enforcement, help them identify and prevent high risk individuals early on so another family can be spared the crippling devastation hers went through.

“You’re right.” She tells her friend. Emory stops and crosses her arms, waiting for her continue.

“About everything. About Eva. About me,” Bailey carries on. “But is it a bad thing to want to help other families, other people. Is it such a bad thing to want to prevent horrible crimes from happening?”

“You can’t help everyone, Bailey. And this job, you are putting yourself in harm’s way. Do you know how many crazies will be coming after you now?”

“You are being dramatic. I don’t deal directly with the perps. I’m in the background, profiling them, that’s all.”

“We both know you are downplaying your involvement.” Emory says, her voice softening.

“Come here.” She opens her arms and gives Bailey a big hug.

“I don’t think I’ll call the detective back,” Bailey says as they break apart.

“Look. I’m here. And I support you, whatever you decide. I just think it could be important.”

“I can’t. I can’t go back there. Not again. I don’t want to get my hopes up, only to be disappointed in the end.”

“But if you don’t call him, you’ll never know. You’ll never find closure.”

“Sometimes we don’t always get the luxury of closure. Things end. And we need to be okay with that.”