It had been three years since Irma Grant died. Three years since Howard Grant had been a widower. He went on with his life as usual, stayed in the same flat where his wife had been murdered, in the hope that his wife’s murderer would come back to finish him off too. He also remembered how his beautiful wife loved this house with all her heart and he wouldn’t give it up for anything. He just couldn’t.
He returned home at half past nine, and slowly undressed and sat to have a lonely dinner. He was used to the silence by now but he wasn’t used to Irma’s absence. Time to time, he would look behind himself to look for Irma, momentarily forgetting that she would not be there. After his meal, he went off to bed like any other work day. Something didn’t feel right, it was as if his conscience was warning him about another attack. He was ready to embrace death with open arms, and be reunited with Irma again, talk to her and feel her soft hands on his. The thought of her hands made him nostalgic and he couldn’t stay in the room anymore. He wanted to leave the house. He wanted to leave the city. Her memories haunted him all over the house and he jumped in shock when a bird landed on the window ledge. After a long night, that stretched to what seemed like years, he went off to sleep.

When Howard Grant came from work that fateful day, he was surprised to see that the lights in his flat were on. Irma had come home early today! He rushed upstairs to surprise his wife with a box of her favourite macaroons on her birthday. But when he entered the house, a dark cloud of uncertainty closed upon him and forbidden thoughts crept into his mind. He felt the temperature drop a few degrees when he saw the state of the living room.

Blood was dripping on the mahogany table and Howard staggered near the entrance. He felt sick and feverish and called out ‘Irma!’ It came as a soft whisper instead of his ringing voice. Something was definitely wrong.
He walked forward and entered the bedroom, bracing himself for the worst. But he did not see anything. He felt his hands sweating profusely and hurriedly wiped them on his shirt. ‘Irma?’ he called out again, this time a little louder. He ran into the balcony desperate for any sign of her, her auburn hair, her twinkling eyes, anything.  And there she was. Irma was lying on the floor, gasping for air, and clutching her stomach where there was a huge gash and blood flowing out of her wound. Beads of sweat lined her made up face and eyeliner made marks on her cheeks. She cried silently, with her eyes closed and her hands helplessly trying to cover the blood flowing out of her yellow dress when she saw her husband come in.

‘Irma.’, he whispered. Tears flowed down his cheeks and he leaned closer to her. ‘Who did this to you? Tell me, please! I promise I won’t let him go. Irma, please.’ He held her hand and kissed it. ‘You won’t go. Not until I tell you to. You wait right here and I’ll call the ambulance. That’s right. You stay there.’ He said as he ran to get his phone. By the time he was back, Irma was white all over. It seemed like she had lost the capacity to feel anymore pain. ‘Hold on honey. Just stay there. They’re coming. They just told me. Okay calm down. Deep breaths. Like you told me.’
She held his hand tightly one last time and mouthed ‘Let go Howard.’
Howard got up suddenly with that familiar sensation of having fallen into a pool with ice cold water. He sighed and wiped his sweaty face with the wipes he kept on his bedside table every day knowing that he’d wake up with another nightmare. This was too hard. He could not let her go. Three years he had tried, three years he had failed. But this was her dying wish. He had to fulfill that at least. He couldn’t cry after that incident. He had grown accustomed to the nightmares that included his wife dying her gruesome death, the murderer being jailed and taunting Howard from behind the bars, and him drowning in a swimming pool as big as the ocean with no one around.

He could not take this anymore. He got out of bed, got dressed and left the house at about 2 a.m. What he would do outside at this point of time, he didn’t know. After walking a few steps he stopped abruptly. As if it was planned, a bike parked right next to where he was standing. ”Candy?” A young girl’s voice called out to him, offering a large basket of candy for him.

———–To be continued———