Bluebird Inn – III

I walked up to the window where our guest sat in the rocking chair in the corner, eyes closed, lying back touching her belly in that certain way that could only mean one thing. Room 613 faced the backyard. I knew what I would see there. This was the time of the night when Kevin visited that particular spot. He was kneeling by the tree, his head down. The wind carried his voice upstairs and I heard him say, “Yes Father” every few seconds. I can’t be certain the words were actually spoken but I heard them, every night, at the same time. I kept staring out of the window, looking at Kevin and feeling weighed down by the burden of my actions, my cowardice from twenty years ago.

Our guest continued to rock herself on the antique rocking chair that had been in our family for generations. I had spent many a night on it, rocking baby Kevin to sleep. Strange how one never has an inkling where one’s life or death would take one. I added a push to the rocking chair, startling her. She looked around, wondering what had upset the rhythm of the chair. I had startled her out of her reverie. Then she got up and walked over to the bathroom. I saw her splash some water over her face as if she was trying to wash the dark circles and the puffiness away. I walked up behind her and stood close to her, if I had any breaths left she would have felt my breath rustle the fine hairs on the nape of her neck. Then she looked up at the mirror after one final splash of water and saw me in the mirror. I could tell she saw me. The color drained from her face. None of these women had ever been able to see me before. I was as startled as she was. She stared at the red spot of blood on my blouse and the knife sticking out of my chest and was about to let out a scream when I decided to test the theory that this one could probably hear me as well. I spoke and asked her to pick up her stuff and run. She screamed then, a scream he must have heard.

A knock on the door confirmed it. It was Kevin. She was too shell-shocked to get to the door, several minutes passed while Kevin kept knocking, he finally let himself in. He saw her standing there, rooted to the spot and asked, “Ms Alec, are you alright?”

She was shivering now, uncontrollably. A very concerned looking Kevin walked up to her and put a comforting arm around her shoulders asking if he could get her anything. He led her to the foot of the bed and sat her down, draping a blanket around her. Then he pulled up a chair and sat down, facing her. He was very patient, inviting confidences, giving her time to compose herself. He asked if he could get her anything to drink, she asked for some water. I had stepped away so she couldn’t see me while Kevin was around. He poured her a glass of water and asked her if he could get anything else. She shook her head and sat there quietly until Kevin asked if she thought it would help to talk. He asked her to unburden herself and to tell him everything. She must have been searching for just such a confidante, a perfect stranger, who would listen to her without passing judgment. I heard her tell her story to Kevin and was saddened. I wished I could sit by her side and comfort her. I watched Kevin comfort her. He was like her best friend, radiating sympathy, gaining her trust completely. She told him all about the events of the day and blamed her screams on the delusions of a troubled mind. She seemed to have relegated my presence to the realm of delusions. Ms Alec was certainly made of sterner stuff than anyone else I had met in these rooms that ended in number 13.

In the past, these women had been terrified by my actions and had run out of the room screaming. Ms Alec was different, she had screamed but she had stood her ground and what complicated matters further was that she could see me and hear me. This changed things. I was standing near the window, contemplating the next move, while trying to keep myself out of her sight when there was a loud knock on the door. Kevin left Ms Alec’s side and got up to answer the door. He opened the door and craned his neck to look in either direction. He appeared not to have noticed anything. He kept looking up and down the hall but saw no one. He couldn’t have. He had never been able to see me either.

I saw him. I saw the shirt he had been wearing that day, blood-stained, every wound I had inflicted raw and visible and a face that wore the perpetually angry expression that I had learned to loath and fear in life. After twenty long years we were sharing the same space again, our seasons in hell about to overflow into two innocent lives, one still unborn.

Kevin walked back to Ms Alec and asked if she would accompany him to the kitchen for a cup of hot cocoa. He told her it would help soothe her nerves. She agreed. They left the room and then he turned to face me.

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