Page 102 of What She Found in the Woods

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‘OK, then. Good luck.’ He shakes hands with Bo and me, and he waits for me to turn before saying, ‘Take care of that injured shoulder.’ Clever old buzzard.

‘I will,’ I tell him.

Before we leave, I send a text to Rob’s phone that says, Where are you????

With the last bar on my battery, I call my grandparents. I tell them a convoluted lie about having been out looking for Rob, who’s gone missing. When they pick us up, I introduce Bo as one of Rob’s childhood friends. They invite him over for dinner, and when that goes well (and how could it not after Bo admits he’s been accepted to seven colleges), they invite him to stay the night in the guest room.

My grandparents have always been good at getting back to normal.

19 AUGUST

This will be my last entry.

What’s left of the summer is a circus for this small town.

TV crews, true crime novelists, talk-show hosts, and religious leaders looking to recruit new followers descend on this pretty little pocket of the world, all of them wailing about the social issue closest to their hearts and looking for anyone to talk to them.

Despite the fact that I dated the son of a mass murderer, and work at the shelter that same mass murderer funded and used to cultivate his prey, no one has shown up on my doorstep yet, which isn’t surprising considering the mess the FBI is dealing with. They may come to ask me about Rob’s whereabouts eventually, but it’s likely they’ve already written me off. On his phone, which they have, it’s clear from our text messages that Rob was lying to me and I had no idea he and his father were killers.

I’m not worried. I was careful. It’s not like the police have my DNA or even my fingerprints on file. I’ve never been arrested and booked. If any physical evidence of me were left behind, it would be in the genetic soup of the pit. Good luck sorting that out. As long as I’m not placed on the scene, there is no way anyone will know. So far Mr Tanis has kept his word, and then some.

The local police force has been gutted.

The FBI is trying to close down the shelter, but a few of the kitchen workers (all clean and sober) are putting up a fight to keep the doors open for the women and small children who have no place else to go.

The TV came

ras have come in handy in that respect. Every day the kitchen circle stands outside in the parking lot holding hands in protest at closing down the shelter. Every evening after they go home, I go to the office, get the books straightened out, pay the electric and water bills, and call in stock orders for the upcoming weeks. That may sound overly optimistic, but I already know which way public opinion will swing this decision. I don’t want one of my walk-in refrigerators warming and wasting weeks’ worth of produce.

The fact that the shelter is the sole beneficiary of an offshore account controlled by a non-taxable, non-profit organization that has millions of dollars in its coffers means that it won’t have to close down for financial reasons in the foreseeable future, either. Dr Goodnight made quite a lot of money as a drug manufacturer, but it seems after what he gave to Rob to live comfortably or used to set up his own camp in the woods, he put the rest of that fortune into this account. And in that way, he left one tiny cove of purity in the catastrophic oil spill that was his existence. I’m not letting this shelter go under. If I do, I may as well have stayed in the pit.

I’m going to make something out of the rest of my life. I may never be able to atone for what I am or what I’ve done, but I’m going to try. There are piles of drug money stashed in that account – enough to open and run several shelters. This isn’t the only town where women are chewed up and spat out.

Amy will run things here when I’m gone. She’s surprisingly good at accounting, she’s reliable, and the kitchen likes her because she’s recently joined AA. She’ll keep the lights on when I’m not around.

I found a new doctor, and I’m on meds again, but gentler ones. We’re still working on getting my dosage right, but I’m feeling better every day. I am mentally ill, and I need help. I’ve accepted that. Medication is a part of my treatment, but it’s a delicate balance. I’m still discovering mine.

Bo and I have gone to visit a few colleges, but I already know where he wants to go. Berkeley has always held a fairy-tale fascination for him. And he already dresses like half the hippie love children that go there, so that works. I have no preference. I would live on Mars if Bo asked me too. I’m sure there are plenty of women in Berkeley who need a safe place to get clean and sober. I’ll start there.

I won’t keep a journal any more. I’ll write. I’ll write every day. But not in a journal. If I have something going on in my life that I need to figure out or express, I’ll talk to Bo.

I may never be a butterfly. But I’m finally free from the cocoon.


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