Here’s a short, short story that I wrote for my creative writing course. I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to leave a comment.
She loved her job, but getting called when you were so nicely cocooned in a warm, comfy duvet really sucked. She dressed quickly, pulling on as many layers as she could without losing mobility. On the way out the door she double checked her equipment – weapons, cuffs, flashlight, notebook, and a pencil because pens were useless in subzero temps.
The drive to the crime scene only took fifteen minutes and five of those were spent going through the Timmies drive thru. Still, the scene was in the middle of nowhere – a little-used dirt road surrounded by farmer’s fields.
Raven parked on the shoulder behind two OPP squad cars with their lights flashing, like anyone was going to see them out here. With her coffee in hand, she bravely exited her vehicle. The wind sliced in from the north, cutting deep into every inch of exposed skin. Ducking her head against it, Raven made her way to the closest squad. Bastard! He rolled down the window instead of getting out to speak with her.
“Evening, Detective Bowen,” he said. “Nice bed head.”
“Closer to morning,Tate” she growled back, absently running a hand through her short black hair. Probably should have looked in the mirror before running out the door. “Want to show me where the body is?”
He pointed toward the ditch on the other side of the road. “Snowmobilers found her. Guy stopped to take a piss and nearly shit his pants instead.” Constable Tate’s head rolled back with laughter.
Constable Warren, who sat in the passenger seat, no doubt enjoying the heat blasting out of the vents, leaned over Tate. “Sorry to hear about your mom, Detective Bowen.”
“Yeah, thanks.” Raven didn’t know how to respond to that. She wasn’t close to her mom. Losing her, making the funeral arrangements, and surviving the horrid day of the funeral hadn’t bothered her nearly as much as what her mother had said to her from her death bed. And how she said it because Raven hadn’t been anywhere near her death bed.
Raven’s mom was Wiccan, which is how Raven ended up with the embarrassing name Raven Sage Bowen. She was also psychic. A psychic Wiccan. It was bad enough having to live her life as Raven Sage never mind the whole town knowing what her mother claimed to be. Raven had been rebelling against all of that hokey crap since she was in her early teens. And now she couldn’t get her mother’s last words to her out of her head. You have the gift, Rave. You’ve only to open yourself to it.
“Yeah, right,” she said to herself as she crouched down at the edge of the ditch, her flashlight pointed at the form below. No footprints around or near the body, which was half buried in snow. This girl had been here for some time, preserved by the icy temperatures. She was face down, left arm extended up over her head. Long, red hair fanned out around her, tangled and knotted.
At the sound of crunching snow behind her, Raven glanced over her shoulder, surprised to see Warren approaching. She was relatively new with less than a year on the force. Probably her first murder scene. She crouched next to Raven.
“No outstanding missing persons reported in Huntsville or the surrounding area in the past six months.”
Raven smiled ever so slightly then sipped her coffee. It was the first thing she would have checked. “Tell me what you see here,” she asked, intrigued by the rookie now.
“Appears to be naked and frozen solid.”
A low rumble of laughter quickly blew away in the arctic wind. “That’s it?”
“Ligature marks on the left wrist.”
“You’re only telling me what you see with your eyes.” As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Raven thought again of her mother’s words. Was the old bitch right? Had she been using her gift all along?
“She’s been there for a long time. Is that what you mean?” Constable Warren looked to Raven for confirmation and then continued. “This was just the dump site. She wasn’t murdered here. But, we need to see what’s beneath her, what’s buried in the snow.”
Raven looked over her shoulder again as a set of headlights approached. Here came their forensic unit which consisted solely of Constable Mark Mainguy. “It’s time to find out just what is under there,” she said as she rose to her full height. “Are you up for some digging or are you going to keep your ass warm in your squad like Tate over there?”
Warren was grinning from ear to ear as she stood. Raven wondered how she wasn’t giving herself one of those ice cream headaches. “I’m up for it, Detective. I’m no pussy, like Tate over there.”
For the second time in the span of a few minutes, Raven laughed a deep, throaty laugh. Damn, she kind of liked this kid.
* * *
After hours spent under a makeshift tent, delicately extricating the body of the young woman from her frozen grave and collecting what little evidence had been secured under the snow and the body, Raven had felt an unexplainable need to go to her mom’s house. She hadn’t been inside the house for years, yet it was just like it had been the last time she’d been there. Dried flowers, plants, and herbs hung above windows and down from the ceiling all over the kitchen giving it a spicy aroma. The way the morning light speared into the room brought back a flood of before school memories. Breakfasts gobbled down at the huge kitchen island that was now covered in books, pestles, bottles, and pots as if her mom was in the middle of cooking a meal. Except it wasn’t meals her mom cooked here. It was spells and potions and God knew what.
What was she going to do with this place? To get it ready to put up for sale was going to take a lot of work. And time, which she didn’t have a lot of.
It’s yours now, Rave. Please, don’t sell it.
Raven looked around the room, expecting to see her mother. Was her mother talking to her from beyond the grave now? That was just too creepy. She turned towards the door, fully intending to leave, but her curiosity got the best of her. She just had to find out what her mother had done with her room. She headed up the creaking wooden steps that had made it impossible for her to sneak in late back in the day.
The door was open when she thought her mother would have at least closed it off, sealing the bad memories away. She got a shock when she peeked around the door jamb and found her room exactly as she’d left it some twelve years ago.
Oh, sweet babe! I’ve always loved you.
“Will you stop doing that?” Raven yelled, spinning around, looking up, down. She waited in the hall for a few minutes and when she didn’t hear any more, she convinced herself she’d imagined it. People didn’t talk to you after they died. She stepped into her childhood room with its pink walls and white canopy bed. It was like walking into a fairy tale. Raven had hated it. She wasn’t the pink, princess type. Sports were her thing back then, not tea parties and pretty dresses. She still hated dresses.
Dragging a finger across her dresser, she was surprised to find there wasn’t a speck of dust on it. Why would her mother still be cleaning this room?
Because I always hoped you’d come back.
“Stop that!” Raven covered her ears like a spoiled brat.
“I also asked you to stop that!” She’d gone stark raving mad. She was talking to a ghost! She quick stepped to the stairs and fled down them. Before she could get out the door, she heard her mother’s voice one more time.
Check Orillia for missing persons. That’s where you’ll find your frozen girl.
* * *
Raven sat down at her desk to wait for her computer to boot up. Sleep. That was the problem. She’d put a few hours in at the office and then try to get a couple of hours of shut eye. She was just about to lean back in her chair and pop her boots up on her desk when Constable Warren’s head appeared in the doorway. “Got a minute?”
“Didn’t your shift end hours ago?”
“I wouldn’t have been able to sleep, so I figured I’d just keep checking missing persons.” She held up a file folder. “Seventeen year old Emily Kathryn McMurtrie. Reported missing last November. Out of Orillia.”
Oh, sweet Jesus! Her mother wasn’t going to wait for her to open herself to the gift.
Copyright © Wendy Hewlett – September 2015