It started raining the moment I turned into my street, almost as if the heavens were masking my arrival. Although I only had to walk 100 metres before I could hide, the raindrops were so large my thin white uniform became wet, and probably see-through. But I didn’t hurry my strides, only looked up determinedly like I had told myself I would, all the way home.
A hundred and sixteen steps later I had reached the foyer door. I fumbled for the miniature replica of the Eiffel Tower on my key ring, pulling it as it caught under the messy pile within my bag, and folded up the cane to replace it. One last sniff of the cool rainy day and I was inside; sheltered and safe.
Slowly, I made my up the stairs. There were eighteen steps on the first level, five metres of corridor, and then another sixteen stairs before the door to my apartment. I counted them every day, twice a day.
My keys jingled like bells as I made my way up, feeling for the grooves and the different patterns, trying to figure out which piece of flat metal went into which hole in my door. I took a few stabs at one of the holes at my hip level, and slid the key in, turning it and pushing on the hard wood simultaneously, and the rush of a familiar lavender scent came to greet me.
‘Sarah, I’m home.’
Confused at the silence, I carefully put my bag down and walked towards the kitchen.
Someone, my uncle I think, told me she was beautiful once. Everyone used to say how much I looked like my sister when she was young. These days they all seem to stay away from us.
Stopping for a moment, I listened carefully, and relief flooded when I heard the distant sound of the water running. I wasn’t alone.
Six and a half steps later I tripped over something that normally wasn’t there. I lost my balance completely, and crashed to the floor. Puzzled, as Sarah wouldn’t leave things lying around on the floor, I reached out to feel it. It was soft and cold and rubbery, yet when I slid my hand a few centimetres to the left it became coarse and stiff. A few more centimetres down and it was wet. Shocked, I lifted my hand to my nose and sniffed it.
It was the stale smell of blood.
I had grown used to the smell of blood; Sarah had taught me what it was when she had received her first hit job. This was obviously her new, and eliminated, target.
I smiled at the thought of a new television.