[previous chapter] [start from the beginning] The trip back home to Abitibi was long but very quiet. Claire slept most of the way. It was the first time since I’d been arrested that she felt really safe. Her mother refrained from asking too many questions. When her daughter opened the door to her dingy little apartment she just hugged her and kissed her and held her and told her everything would be OK. Claire just wept and wept.

They all took a nap and a shower then went out for breakfast. They had a huge pile of eggs and sausages and pancakes. Claire hadn’t eaten this much since she was eight years old; it felt great.

They didn’t talk much during the meal, except for discussing how they were going to bring her home.

“How much stuff do you need to pack?” her mother asked.

“Not much; I don’t own the furniture, except for the futon but I bought it second-hand from…” she was about to say “an ex-client” but caught herself in time. “…from an old friend who has since moved away.” In fact, the guy in question had moved away permanently, off the face of the earth he now was, but there was no need to talk about this part of her life in the big city, was there. “I didn’t pay a lot for it so I’ll just leave it behind. It’s not worth having it shipped all the way.” Plus it smelled of me, and that made it too painful a piece of furniture to keep.

“So just your clothes, then?”

“Pretty much. I have some CDs and DVDs I’d like to keep, if there’s enough room.”

“No problem,” said her dad, happy to be in a position to contribute something to the conversation. “I got myself a new SUV last month, and I put the cargo box on the roof to come down here, in case you had a lot of stuff to carry back home. We’ll bring whatever you want to keep.”

Yes, Claire thought, everything is going to be OK.

Now that she was settling back into her old bedroom in her old house, Claire was keeping an eye on the Toussignant trial, like about two-thirds of the people in the province. It was the talk of social media. Claire had kept in touch over Facebook with a couple of high school friends while she lived in Laval, but they didn’t know she was connected to the trial through her now-dead boyfriend. She had given this matter a great deal of thought and decided it would be safer for everyone, very much including her parents, if nobody knew. She figured if she kept quiet for a while the bikers would leave her alone. They hadn’t bothered her so far; she was of the opinion that if they’d wanted her gone she wouldn’t be alive now, and that was a good thing. But she couldn’t be sure they’d continue to leave her alone if they realized she was babbling about me. Better not do it, then.

She was a smart girl, my Claire.

[next chapter]