One Last Look

The back window was never locked, Frieda had to remind herself. The police tape sealed the front door, but the back window to the bathroom could barely shut all the way, let alone lock. It was the emergency entry point if she got locked out of the house. It wasn’t visible to the neighbors so she didn’t think anyone knew about it. She scanned the junk in the back backyard around the house in case she needed something to wedge the window open. She picked up a stick that looked about the right size. The window was open about a fingers width. She sucked in a breath. She’d had less to work with before.

Frieda pressed her ear to the crack to make sure no one else was inside. The house was silent. She could feel its emptiness out here. Even with all of their stuff inside it felt empty. Only her mom was gone. She gripped the windowsill and stepped onto a cinderblock she left under the window for just such an occasion. She squeezed all of her strength together around the pain in her heart and wedged the stick into the crack. She worked the stick up and down until the window slid up enough to get a hand in. She got in quick enough. She stepped down the back of the toilet.

She hoped her shoes weren’t too muddy. She didn’t want to contaminate the scene. She thought that they were probably done sifting through the bits of her mom’s life by now. She just needed to grab a few things she had tucked away. They kept a box buried under the tree of her grandparent’s old house. It had I.D.’s and money in it, but she didn’t have any pictures of her mom besides the fake DMV photo. That’s not how she wanted to remember her mom. She needed something else to hold onto. She wanted the picture of their family, before her dad disappeared, the one on the beach, back when they could do that sort of thing. She kept it hidden, folded in between her bedframe and her mattress.

Her Mom didn’t even know that Frieda had that picture. She’d always kept it close to her, but then she almost lost her backpack that one day and she opted to keep it hidden in her room. Her mom would have freaked. They couldn’t have anything that linked them back to their father. It was too dangerous. Well, it turns out it was dangerous with or without the picture. She slipped into her room avoiding any glances to the front room. She didn’t want to see the blood. She couldn’t see her mother’s blood.

Selena, her mom’s friend, told her there had been a lot of blood when she found the body. Her door creaked and she held her breath, afraid the whole world heard it. She listened to the empty house. Nothing. She focused on her bed. She flipped the faded pink comforter back and pushed on the mattress. She let out a relieved sigh as her fingers touched the paper. Her eyes pricked with tears but she swallowed the lump in her throat. The picture unfolded in her hands and she noticed the man walking behind them as they smiled at the camera. She’d seen that man recently. He walked passed their house every morning. She thought he just lived in the apartments across the street. Ice filled her chest. She shoved the picture into her pocket and grabbed her new coat from the closet. She hadn’t worn it yet. The nights were getting cold.

I used “picture” as my writing prompt today. 12 minutes. Pick a word and write. It’s fun. You’ll like it.

About the author

Carley Hibbert

I just finished writing my first novel The Villain's Assistant. I'm preparing to submit it to an interested publisher.

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