Leaving … without me? Safi panted.
Blood pressure low, rapid pulse—hypovolemic shock—can you—? One of the men on the floor was blocking the drawer she needed to get into, but pried it open with his good arm, passing her what looked like a large sheet of tinfoil. The EMT spread it over me as another put a line in my arm and began bandaging.The strange blanket trapped in a little pocket of warmth. I began to tremble as the pain woke up again.
What happened to your leg? I grunted as she lifted it into some kind of brace. Can you tell me what happened to your leg?She held my face in between her hands and I felt wild, almost unhinged, as I looked into her eyes. You’re okay, you’re safe. We’re going to take care of you. You’re safe.One of the soldiers on the floor reached up, his blood-stained hand coming to rest softly over my wrist. You’re a good girl, he said, you’re a good, brave girl. You did a good job.
You’re safe now, the EMT repeated. We’re going to take care of you.The wall I’d built up against the well of pain and fear and anger finally collapsed, and I began to cry. I sobbed, the way I had in the garage of my parents’ house on that last morning before they took me, I bawled, because it was such a relief not to have to hold it in any longer, to have to pretend.
I didn’t have to stay awake when the first pull of peaceful nothing came.
FOR DAYS, I FELT LIKE I was trapped inside my own body.We trooped toward the house, a yellow stucco bungalow with crime scene tape wrapped on little sticks to block off the whole yard. The yard itself was tiny, maybe ten square feet total, with some of those goddamned bird-of-paradise plants lining the little footpath leading to the front step. I hate those flowers. They always look like they’re about to come to life and peck me to death. At the very least, they’re all definitely planning something.
There was someone waiting on the front stoop: a black guy in his late thirties, short and lithe-looking. He stood up as we approached, and his eyes narrowed. Jesse Cruz? he said in a voice with a soft southern accent.I looked at Jesse out of the corner of my eye, and caught the way his shoulders slumped. Hey, Aaron. I didn’t know you were working this case. How’s it going?
The other man ignored the question, looking pointedly at Wyatt and me. And who are you?Jay Aaron, this is Scarlett and that’s Wyatt, Jesse said. Aaron is a crime scene investigator.