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Dan dropped his cigarette, crushing it under his shoe. He stared at the small gray house across the street. With a heavy sigh, he walked to the door and knocked.
Mariella’s caretaker was watching for him, as usual. The door swung open and Angela stood in the doorway, smelling of strong perfume and smoke. “It’s been awhile, Dan. Do you have time for a cup of coffee and a smoke before you go up?”
The urge for another cigarette washed over him, but as he looked at Angela’s filmy blouse, bright red lipstick and seductive smile, he knew she was a complication he didn’t need.
Instead, he shook his head. “No, I want to get this over with.” Even he heard the weariness in his voice.
He felt tired and achy; probably coming down with the flu, but he couldn’t miss the anniversary.
Disappointed, Angela shrugged. “It’s your choice. You know the way.”
He climbed the old staircase. He knew every rip in the tattered plaid runner and every creak of the steps.
The bedroom door was open. Mariella was in a railed hospital bed, propped up by pillows and focused on the drawing pad in her lap; her pencil moving quickly over the paper drawing the place where she was attacked.
Dan knew the place very well. He’d seen her running there many times. But more importantly, he was the one who saved her that day.
He was already giving her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation when a nearby forest ranger rushed up the hill, after hearing Mariella’s screams for help.
Severely beaten in the head, she wasn’t expected to live, but did. She was partially paralyzed, blind and speech impaired. Dan visited her often. He was the one who realized she wanted to draw and gave her a pad and pencil.
Everyone was shocked when she drew the mountain path where she almost died with amazing accuracy. She captured the gray gravel path, the tall leafless trees and even the foggy autumn chill.
After that day, she kept drawing. Dan was sure she’d draw her attacker, but she never did. She drew the same picture of the path. It was the only thing she seemed to remember about the attack.
In the beginning, the police studied the drawings hoping for a clue, but eventually gave up. Dan didn’t forget. He visited every anniversary of the attack, wondering if she would remember this time.
Today, as he listened to her pencil scratching the paper, he was unable to resist. He stepped closer to the bed and peeked at her drawing.
Much later, a sobbing Angela told police she’d heard Mariella crying and rushed upstairs. She said she found Dan dead on the floor by the bed. It looked like a heart attack.
The drawing lay face-up near his body. She said she looked at it in disbelief. It wasn’t the same drawing as usual. This time, Mariella had drawn Dan standing at the curve of the gravel path, holding a bloody hammer.
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This story is for a Write on Edge Writing Prompt: Week Four. I used the picture for my prompt.