From the Day (short fiction)

The comic

“It has mystic powers you know”. She was a black woman with big teeth and a dress that hugged the floor. The box was vaguely Renaissance in style with some spiraling columns at the four corners and pictures of some guy in a robe and a pillbox hat with long hair on each side. Joan was skeptical and a little rude.

“Anyone nearby has to tell the truth” said the owner of the shop.

“Yes I’m sure they do.” said Joan. Then she had an idea. “How much did you pay for it?”

The owner laughed. “Of course I have a counter spell or I wouldn’t have told you.”

In addition to the present she had already, Joan felt she needed something else for the party that evening. The quick wit amused her. “I’ll take it” she said.

Joan tried the truth box out on some of the people she met on the way to the party. A little girl, a window washer, a panhandler. “Did you make a lot today?”

At her mother’s birthday party she met her sister Jeanie. Drunk.

“Josh would have liked this party. He loved being the center of attention and disturbing the people around him.” said Joan.

Jeanie looked stunned. She felt the bottom of her stomach heave, a wave of sickness. “Were you thinking about him too? I’ve got to tell you someshing” Slurred.

Jeanie rambled , each phrase not connected to the last “Josh…Katerine…was going to meet them there.” She had a short moment of clarity and said “I have texts from them: Josh and Katerine.”

“Yeah so?” said Joan.

“They’re from the day.”

“The day of the attack?”

Nods.

Joan felt hot prickles, heat, her face aflame, as if she was the one who had drunk too much

“I can’t  believe this! Jeanie! What were you thinking? Why?”

“Because…”

She shows Joan the texts

Katerine: 7:54Im in a bathroom safe

7:56: Door break opengive my love to

Josh 8:05 here they come.

Joan was brought up short. She felt an electric shock go up her spine. “They prove Katerine died first in the attack.”

This started Jeanie on another disconnected, slurred ramble.

What Joan made out was that Jeanie always thought Katerine deserved better. In death she got what she wished, not Joshua’s ridiculous bequest to that animal charity.

Joan felt confused, conflicted, distressed, sick to her stomach but tingling with shock. She would remember this moment. But not with regret.

Jeanie had taken responsibility and now she was giving it. Was she giving it away? Joan’s confusion, hatred and love was complete. She would do nothing.

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