Bering and Wells prompt: “She was a rose in the hands of a blind man who could only feel her thorns.” If you wouldn't mind.
The smile on Helena’s face is strained and doesn’t reach her eyes, Myka notices absentmindedly.
There is a man, playing in the garden with a young girl while Helena is restlessly pacing the living-room. Everything is beige around them, the fabric of the couches, the rug under the clear pinewood coffee table and the walls even, are of a cleared shade of creme.
Nothing stands out and everything looks in order, in this house located at the very end of a residential area so conformist it makes Myka’s skin crawl.
“I only called you to inform you of a curiosity,” Helena states and her voice, rich with those British accents Myka had missed so much, is clipped and a little caustic. She looks annoyed and the corners of her mouths are turned downward, there is no sparkle of humor or interest in her eyes. “Not for you to barge into this house with your badge and your glorified golden retriever.”
Myka doesn’t have to look to feel the heat in Pete’s glare. He stays silent though and Myka is grateful for it.
“You know how it works, Helena. Emily. Whatever your name is lately,” Myka answers, struggling to stay professional at the very least. “We need to ask a few questions and you’re our first lead.”
“Fine. Fine,” Helena relents but she’s clearly unhappy and she shoots an exasperated glare to Pete when he almost knocks out a statuette from its rightful place. “I urge you to be quick however, I have to take Adelaide to her Kenpo class in fifteen minutes.”
Myka stays silent but her mind is reeling with everything she is helplessly witnessing.
H.G Wells, living the life of a banal soccer mom in some random town in Wisconsin, with the house, the man and the kid to go with it. Years ago, she would have laughed at the very idea of someone as adventurous as Helena beginning to even think to settle and yet, here she was.
“I’m surprised you don’t have an actual golden retriever or a faithful border collie to go with this idyllic painting,” Myka quietly says and she juts her chin towards the window, where she can see Nate and Adelaide, since it is their names, are playing together. Pete snickers behind her but she only stares at how Helena softly smiles when her eyes fall upon the two people that are now her new family.
“We talked about it actually.”
Myka grits her teeth but shows nothing of the hurt she felt. Instead, she tilts her head to the side and wonders out loud “So, does he know who you truly are? Does he understand you?”
Like I do, Myka doesn’t say. The words are heavy on her tongue but she keeps them to herself because it is not her place to say. Not anymore at least, because she still remembers.
She remembers a scene in the wood when Pete was about to destroy the better part of H.G Wells, the one stuck in the Janus coin. She remembers the deep and soulful brown eyes that had been full with something she didn’t dare put a name on, at the time.
She can still hear the accent of that sulky, British voice asking how could one say goodbye to the person who knew them better than anyone else.
“I can’t very well tell him, I’m H.G. Wells.”
The smile is as insincere as it could be, floating across sad lips like the pathetic ghost of an old memory, and the tone is clipped again but there is a longing beneath the low accents and the flowing vowels.
It’s subtle but Myka is attuned to Helena in a way she can’t begin to comprehend and she isn’t sure she wants to. She doesn’t know what to make of the strange edge in Helena’s voice and so she chooses to ignore it.
“Does he make you happy?” She asks and it burns her throat to ask, the words are rasping against her tongue as if they didn’t want to be set free.
“Yes,” comes the simple answer and Myka sighs.
It comes from the abysses of her broken soul, that sound, loaded with shattered hopes and painful resignation. It hangs in the air like a statement and then it’s gone.
Helena is watching Nate and Adelaide again and Myka stands up.
Pete is looking at her, concern etched all over his usually goofy features and she manages a soft smile, trying as best as she could to reassure him. It doesn’t work, she can see he is upset in the way he frowns but she shakes her head and he lets it slide. For now.
They are outside now and Helena goes to put an arm around the young girl’s shoulders while Nate is leaning in to kiss her.
Myka looks down and her eyes fall upon a bunch of roses, bordering the parking alley.
The garden is like the house, perfectly well maintained, the flowers all around are bright and fully blossomed, the grass is as green as it can be and even the trees look perfectly aligned with the general layout.
It’s sickening and Myka stares at the thorns that climb along the roses stems.
She used to hate roses, the cliché lines and the utterly boring comparisons all the authors and wanna be poets would make about that all too ordinary flower. She used to hate the smell of roses, too faint and yet too intoxicating to be ignored, the bright but bland colors, everything about roses made her cringe.
Until she met Helena, who in a way, was like the rarest of them all.
The black rose, so unnatural and incredibly precious it had become some kind of a monster amongst the specialists. Helena, with the weight of her years and the power of her ancient knowledge, her glossy dark hair and soulful brown eyes, her flirtatious smile and her perfectly arched brows, was something of an anomaly in Myka’s world, a rarity and even a curiosity, one might say.
She was clever, cunning, uncompromising, complex, unique and yet she had flaws, so many of them, scattered like thorns along her strange and hard to get personality.
Helena was a black rose to Myka and she had hated it for a long time.
Today, the perfectly tailored roses are a blunt and prickly reminder of why she didn’t like the flowers in the first place.
When she looks up, Nate is pulling away and Helena is already walking towards the street with Adelaide, to take her to her Kenpo class. Their move easily together but somehow, Myka can see the cracks, the flaws in that relationship that shouldn’t even exist.
Myka stares at Nate and she sees a man who has no idea of how rare the woman he lives with is.
He calls her Emily and he probably thinks she is just a forensic working for the police, a woman with a past he doesn’t know about and a good mother for his daughter. He doesn’t know, the endless wonders Helena’s heart and mind harbor. He is blind to it.
“Are you okay Mykes?” Pete softly asks next to her and she sighs again.
“No, but I will be, eventually,” She answers and he nods but she can tell he doesn’t believe her.
She isn’t sure she does either.