I don’t remember how I got outside. The last thing I remembered was being on the sidewalk bathed in the red and blue lights from the police cruisers that had come to a screech outside the house. I looked down at my hands as they started to shake. My hands were streaked with blood that was just beginning to dry. I heard someone screaming, and it took me only a moment to realize the person screaming was me!
I dropped violently to my knees and began to heave my stomach contents out onto the sidewalk. Everything came out, and I heaved even more after, gagging on the grief that seemed to choke me. Tears burned down my face and dripped onto the pavement making little splashes as they fell.
I looked up as a form walked toward me, I blinked my eyes to clear away the film of tears. It was a police officer, and he was holding out a blanket towards me.
“Mrs. Gallagher, I need you to tell me what happened.” he said gently. I don’t know why I thought this, or why it even mattered that he knew my name. Then I remembered he was Shane’s partner from work.
My brain was fuzzy, from grief, and heartache, I tried to remember the nights events that led me to this point. “I got a text from Brennan.” I whispered remembering. “She said she had heard a noise at her door and she was afraid.” The tears started again. Would they ever stop again?
“Did she say if she saw anyone?” He asked taking out a notebook.
“No. She just asked if I could come over.” Suddenly it hit me like a bolt out of the blue, if only I had driven faster, could I have prevented this? I doubled up as pain and grief seized my midsection.
“It looks like a drive by shooting.” He said. “Neighbors say they heard a shot, and they thought it was a car backfiring, since they saw a car pull away from your house.”
“A drive by?” I said numbly hugging myself.
“Your sister had been standing by the window and was hit.” He said gently.
I looked around with dead eyes at the scene around me. The crime unit had arrived and was picking up shell casings out of the wooden siding and bagging evidence. An ambulance had pulled to a slow stop in the driveway. Its lights weren’t flashing, nor did the E.M.T’s seem to be in any kind of hurry. It’s because she’s already dead, why hurry. I thought bitterly.
Through the window I could see them photographing my sisters body. The flashes from the camera’s assaulted my burning eyes. Suddenly I remembered, next to my sisters body there had been a camera. Being a journalist, she always kept it on hand. Could there be any chance she had taken a photo of her killer?
“The camera!” I said “My sisters camera was on the floor by the front door.”
I watched the C.S.I’s put the camera into an evidence bag, and another drape a white sheet over her body. That was so significantly final, that I felt the grief rear up like a tidal wave and I put my head into my hands and sobbed.
I heard another car pull up, and a slamming door sounded. “Breelynn!” I heard Shane shout as he ran towards me. I fell into his arms like he was a life raft, and I held on to him like I was going under. “Brennan?” He asked quietly into my shoulder.
“Dead.” was all I could mange into his shoulder as he hugged me fiercely.
“Why is this happening?” I yelled up at the sky. I wanted to hurt someone. I wanted to get in my car and find whoever had done this and make them hurt. But as quickly as the anger boiled over, it receded, and left me reeling from grief and emotion. I fell into my husbands arms again and sobbed into his shoulder.
“We will find who did this.” He promised staring into my eyes. “They will not get away with this, I will see to that personally.” He said with conviction.
“Are we done here?” He asked. “I want to take my wife home, she needs to sleep.” He put the blanket around my shoulders and led me to his car.
I turned around wishing I hadn’t and watched as they led my sisters body out of the house on a stretcher. She was in a body bag. A scream tore up my throat and I fell to the pavement. That was the last thing I remembered.
I awoke in bed on top of the covers later that morning. My face felt stiff and my eyes were swollen from crying. It wasn’t like the movies where people wake up and they think the horrible things that happened were just a dream. I was aware the minute I opened my eyes that my sister was dead, and I’d never see her again. It was all so very final. Brennan was dead, she had been murdered. I curled up into a fetal position and sobbed quietly into my pillow, not wanting to draw attention to myself. I just wanted to be alone.
I could hear the twins laughing and playing out in the living room. They were too young to understand what was going on. I felt guilty that I wasn’t out there with them like I was every morning, but I was too numb to really care. I sat up and rubbed my red and swollen eyes.
“You can stay home from school today Cole.” Shane was saying as I ducked into the bathroom to splash water on my face.
“I want to go.” Cole said quietly. “I don’t want to see my mom cry, I’d rather be around my friends.” I could hear the little tremor on his voice that told me he had been crying too. My heart pounded with sadness. I wanted to hold him tightly, but I stood where I was, and watched through the window as he ran out into the rain towards the bus.
Cole told me later it was a mistake going to school. The murder was the only thing on people’s minds, and everyone swarmed around him like insects buzzing around him for information. Cole sat on the bus alone, ignoring his friends inquiries from the back, and rode to school in silence.
After I watched the school bus drive away I left the bathroom and stood over Demi who was sleeping in her swing. She looked so peaceful, and so much like Brennan that my heart ached once more. through the haze of my tears it was easy to see the twins as if they were the younger versions of my sister and I. I looked away, I loved them, but right now I couldn’t bear to be around them.
The phone wouldn’t stop ringing. Finally Shane turned the ringer off after telling off a reporter who was looking for a comment from the family.
“Quote this asshole!” I heard him shout and slam the phone down.
I was still holding my ears when little Drew tugged at my shorts.
“Mama sad?” She asked looking up at me with innocent bright blue eyes.
I felt my already wounded heart shatter once more and I felt like I was going to be sick.
I ran out through the patio doors and threw up into the grass. I’m not sure if it was the pregnancy or the grief from my loss. Probably both, I thought heaving my guts out.
I was sobbing on the edge of the bed when I felt the mattress sink under the weight of Shane as he touched my shoulder softly.
“Your mom is here.” He whispered. I looked up and blinked at him.
“Why are you dressed in your uniform?”
“You need time with your mother-alone. I want to be at work. I want to catch the bastard that did this.” He said his green eyes were flashing.
I jumped up off the bed and faced him angrily.
“I need you right now Shane.” I shouted. “I don’t want you on this case, what if-” I couldn’t finish the words. “What if…” I stuttered.
“Shhh” he whispered trying to hug me. “Nothing is going to happen to me. The more man power we have out there looking for the shooter the better.”
“I don’t care Shane. I want you off the case!” I screamed.
Shane turned around and walked out of the room leaving me standing there stunned and crying my eyes out. I didn’t follow him.
My mother looked so old and fragile as she stood in the entry way with her cane. She normally looked so put together, she had retired 2 years ago, and spent most days in her garden. Now she looked several years older, her face drawn and tired. The lines on her face stood out even more. I felt a pang in my heart. Brennan’s death would be the hardest on my mom.
The minute my mom saw me she burst into tears, her small body shuddering with sobs. I crossed the room and swept my mother up in a giant hug, and we held each other as we both sobbed.
“You should stay here for a while mom.” I said when I could finally talk instead of cry. “We have a spare bedroom. I don’t think you should be alone right now.”
My mother just nodded her head tiredly. “Thank you.” She agreed. “If its ok with you, I’d like to lay down now.”
I swallowed my tears back and nodded. I watched her hobble down the hall, again I was struck at her frailty.
Later that night after laying on the couch in quite contemplation, I saw my mother come out from the spare room.
“Breelynn dear, go get Aaron and Brennan and tell them to wash up for supper. I’m making spaghetti tonight.” She smiled, seeing me not as my adult self, but much younger. My heart sank. Mom’s confusion was happening more and more, and Brennan’s death seemed to push her even further over the edge.
“Mom. Brennan died last night, remember?” I said gently. I felt evil for saying those words out loud. Maybe it would have been kinder, to just let her believe what she wanted too.
“That’s silly dear. Look behind you. There she is.” She said waving behind me.
Worry chewed at my insides and I just nodded and smiled. What was the harm of letting her believe that Brennan was alive?
Whistling as she worked in the kitchen I debated on calling Shane and asking for his advice, but I was still angry with him from earlier. I knew my mom deep down knew Brennan was dead, but the mind is a powerful thing, and sometimes the mind chose to shut down and believe what it wanted to protect itself. I thought of the stages of grief, the first stage being shock and denial. What was the harm of letting here believe that everything was just fine! At least for the night?
Later that night after getting into my pajama’s I felt the first movements from my pregnancy. They felt like little tiny butterflies. I gently patted my stomach taking a small measure of comfort from the new life that grew inside me.