Are you in some sort of trouble, Émilie? Would you tell me if you were? Something seems to have scared your girl. We’ve had an incident and it seems to have set Jo rather on edge. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that it’s almost like something’s followed her here. But you would have told me if that was the case, wouldn’t you? Course you fucking would. And I don’t know any better, do I?
Can’t be more specific than “something” at the moment, I’m afraid. Just, you should know that there’s been an incident. And while I’m fairly confident that I can take on anything, as I’m sure you are too, there’s something about the way it put the wind up Jo that’s put the wind up me as well.
Things had been fairly quiet. It had taken a few days for Jo to come out of her sulk after that comment I made about her killing her parents not being particularly special. When I got up the next morning she was already dressed and making coffee. She turned to look at me, glorious hung-over mess that I was, and said: “I killed my parents when they said they were divorcing. I didn’t want them to split up.”
“And they didn’t have to, thanks to you,” I said and made a bee-line for the coffee.
I could hear her making a little repulsed noise behind me. They’re great, those noises, I don’t know if she would have dared to make them in your presence, Madame Étienne. They’re sort of halfway between a cluck and a cough, there’s something going on with the tongue. Brilliant. Anyway, given that she didn’t have a full-fledged tantrum at my quip I guessed that she’d heard it before.
I knew that she was definitely waiting for me to show her something. Some aspect of witchcraft that she hadn’t seen before. After I spent the morning reading my book I got up to take a piss and saw her watching me leave the room. I swept my dressing gown around me ceremoniously and asked her what she’d learned.
“I’m learning that you don’t do anything,” she replied.
I was disappointed. She was still far too diplomatic. I wanted her to lose her temper, call me a fat layabout, swear or something. But no. I made the curtains open with a twitch of my finger just to spite her. She gave me a tiny little sneer that disappeared before I could point it out.
I tell you this because I’m trying to paint a picture of the sort of domestic situation that we’ve been sharing. This one example is typical of the things that have happened over the past few days. I’ve seen her writing things in what looks like a diary so I know she’s taking something down. Maybe it’s just a list of the things I’ve done to upset her. Or maybe it’s something to send to you. Is she in contact with you as well? I’ll ask her. I wonder if she’d tell me.
Anyway, the incident. So last night I woke up at about three in the morning. I heard a rattle, the noise that I’ve come to know as coming from a lock being convinced to open. As I’m sure you’re aware, I’m very familiar with people trying to break into my house to prove that they’re not scared of witches, and then having to kill them horribly to teach the neighbourhood a lesson. Naturally, I assumed that tonight was no different, and got up with the intention of removing the skeleton of whomever the intruder through their mouth piece by piece.
But as I left my room and made my way downstairs it became clear that nobody was there. I couldn’t hear the terrified whispers of young people going outside their comfort zone, nor could I smell that unmistakable scent of young fear. Whoever had broken into my house had made their way back out again. They had also left the back door open. I tried hard to get a read on whoever it was but there was nobody in the vicinity. Whoever it was hadn’t just left, they’d left quickly. Quicker than a gang of children could have.
A gasp from the kitchen doorway alerted me to the fact that Jo was in the room with me. While her reaction time might have been slower than mine, I was quite impressed that she’d manage to hear the sound of somebody breaking in from the attic. That hearing might come in handy at some point. She was standing in her fluffy blue dressing gown and bare feet, staring open-mouthed at the open door. I could see that she was pretty shaken up so I decided to do the decent thing and not make her more scared.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “It’s just kids. I always tell people I’m a witch when I first move in and someone always has to prove that they’re not scared of me. It normally means that I have a mess to clear up. But whoever it has run off. So don’t worry about it.”
But she didn’t look at all comforted. She barely looked as though she’d heard me at all. She walked over to me and pointed to the kitchen counter. I turned to where she was looking and saw…
And this is the bit that spooked me a little bit, Émilie. I’ve seen a lot. But there’s nothing that really prepares you for the sight of a teenaged boy’s face on a side-plate on your kitchen counter at 3am. There was no blood. Just a neatly peeled face sitting there on the plate. The boy was clearly in his teens from the acne and the attempt at a goatee. It was all very cleanly done; the cuts around the eyes and hairline were exceptional. I picked it up, wrapped it in a dirty tea towel and threw it into the living room fireplace. It didn’t take long to burn up. Jo watched me do this without saying a word. When it was gone she went back upstairs. Her light didn’t go off all night.
I’ve had a bit of a think and I realised that there was something strange about this, you know, beyond the face. Jo didn’t say anything. She didn’t say “What the fuck is that?” She didn’t say “Why is there a boy’s face in our kitchen?” She just pointed it out to me. So I think she knows something about this. When she comes out of her room we’re going to have a good little talk about it but for now I just wanted to let you know.
So if you do decide that there’s something I need to know, I’d be grateful if you could tell me exactly what. Before whatever it is decides to bring us any more pubescent body parts.
I hope that you enjoyed this, and are enjoying this series so far. Please let me know what you think and keep your eyes open for part four!