[previous chapter] [start from the beginning] Claire hadn’t slept much since my death. She wasn’t stupid or naïve enough to believe it had been a suicide. Jeez, how people could swallow the most idiotic crap. She didn’t know who exactly had killed her lover, but she was pretty sure it was someone either from the gangs or hired by them. That’s the only thing that made sense. And she understood very clearly that having Abdul and I testify at a murder trial that could show their business ties to organized crime wasn’t something the gangs would tolerate. We might give the cops details about their operations in exchange for a more lenient sentence in the assisted suicide trial. But whatever the details, they didn’t matter to Claire. The only thing that mattered was that she was now alone, sick, and scared to death. Criminal gangs rarely stopped until their jobs were done, and she didn’t know if killing her was part of the job or not.

It was late Saturday night and she was restless. She wanted to go out but didn’t dare. She didn’t think she could stay in this apartment any more, but she had no place to go. There was nothing worth watching on television, and she didn’t feel like reading. She had no new books anyway. She didn’t have friends she could have over, and she was done playing candy crush saga on her phone. She didn’t know what to do. She was barely 20 years old and already it felt like her life was over. Weird, huh? And yet.

It was too late to call but she called anyway. She remembered the number as though she’d just dialled it five minutes ago. It rang three times.

“Hello?” the voice was gruff but also worried. Because nobody ever calls you late at night unless something real bad happened.

Claire was sobbing.

“Claire?!? Is that you? Please tell me you’re OK?”

“Oh, mom!” all the angst, all the fears, all the stress, all the sleep deprivation, everything came tumbling out of her mouth at once. “Can I come home, please?”

“Oh, baby, I’ve waited so long to hear this! YES! Tell me where you are and we’ll come get you.”

Claire gave her the address, along with an estimate of how much driving her mom could expect, then cried some more.

“Honey, you try to get some rest now, OK? I can hear in your voice you need it. Please try to just lie down and close your eyes. We’ll be there as quickly as we can, I promise. Everything will be OK, do you hear me? Everything will be just fine.”

Claire hung up, closed her eyes, and went to sleep.

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