By Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
Distant rumbling… rain beating against the ivy-covered side of the building… chasing away the last vestiges of the dream… the woman opened her eyes to another wet, grey morning. The ancient radiator had gone off during the night, and she could see her breath in the stillness of the dawn-lit room.
The woman sat up in the over-sized queen bed that threatened to burst the walls of Christina’s tiny on-campus apartment, and looked over at the un-curtained window. A steady flow of raindrops slid down the glass, obscuring the view of the building opposite, even though a scant two meters was all that separated the two structures. She thought to herself…they should call Portland the “City of Rain”, not the “City of Roses”.
Anne looked down at the girl lying next to her… long, flowing black hair… alabaster skin. A little smile played across her lips as the memory of last night’s love-making replayed in her mind… a bit carnal for “love-making”, don’t you think? She wouldn’t have minded a “reprise”, but… well, that isn’t going to happen now, is it? Anne thought, glancing at the turquoise chronograph on her wrist. She folded back the covers and climbed out of bed.
The woman walked over and stood at the window, looking out at the rain setting the mood for the day. Unbidden, the words from an old Eurythmics song came… Here comes the rain again, raining in my head like a tragedy, tearing me apart like a new emotion… Anne shook her head and spoke, her voice barely a whisper… “I’m doing this for us… everything…it is for us…”
Shivering from the cold, her naked body covered with goose bumps, Anne gathered up her clothes and headed for the bathroom. She gave the cast-iron radiator a good whack with her boots, and listened with satisfaction as something came alive inside it… the sound of steam hissing in the pipes… bringing a promise of warmth.
Turning the water as hot as she could stand, Anne lathered her petite body, the strawberry-scented body wash cleansing last night’s sins from her flesh… well, some of them, anyway. She briefly reflected that it was probably going to take a bit more than a bottle of VS Secret Garden body wash to expiate all of her sins. But then… that is what therapists and priests are for, isn’t it?
The woman toweled off and dressed, then walked back out to the living room/kitchen/ bedroom of the student apartment, which was now markedly warmer than before. Anne sat down on the edge of the bed, glanced briefly over at Christina, and then turned her attention to herself, holding up the small makeup mirror… light powder foundation… a little eyeliner… touch of mascara… “Fuck-me” red lip gloss… “perfect!”
She put her make up away and stood, looking down at Christina. A small frown flitted across Anne’s face. Leaning over the bed, she unknotted the rose twill Hermes scarf and slid the twisted silk free of the dead woman’s neck. A ring of bruising stood out, in sharp contrast to the pale flesh. Anne bent down and whispered… “You won’t be needing this anymore, will you dear?” … then lightly kissed the now cold flesh, leaving a smear of red on Christina’s cheek.
The woman stood and tucked the scarf in her purse, then picked up her one-time lover’s cell phone from the bedside table and dialed 911. Affecting an English accent… “Yes, please send the police… 1785 SW 12th, # 7… yes, the student apartments. There’s been a murder.” Not hanging up, she dropped the phone into Christina’s lifeless hand.
Closing the apartment door behind her, Anne quickly made her way down the stairs, making as little noise as possible on the carpeted treads. As soon as she was out on the sidewalk, she peeled off the white silk gloves that had adorned her hands since leaving her own apartment the previous evening. The heavy rain, as well as obscuring visibility, necessitated the long raincoat and umbrella, providing Anne a cloak of anonymity.
Stopping at Starbuck’s for her customary Americano and lemon-poppy seed scone, Anne went over the previous day’s psych notes before class. Since her primary school days, high grades had always been a priority for her, and Anne was especially determined to make a good showing in Professor Aubert’s class.
With the rain showing no sign of abating any time soon, Anne unfurled her umbrella again and hurried across the Park Blocks to Cramer Hall, stepping around several puddles on the way. Dr. Aubert’s Advanced Applied Organizational Psychology course was a popular class, and Anne always arrived early, so she would have a center-front row seat.
Sophie Aubert had come to Portland State University from L’Institut de Psychologie at the Universite Paris Descartes. She was a very personable young woman with classic French beauty and a sharp mind. To say that Anne had a “crush” on le professeur, was putting it mildly… Anne was hopelessly and madly in love with her college psychology professor. Unfortunately, it seemed that where les affaires du coeur were concerned, Dr. Aubert’s was already taken. However, as the professor was fond of saying… “la seule constante dans la vie est le changement.”
Professor Aubert entered the classroom as Anne was arranging her notes. “Bonjour, Anne… you are in early this morning.” “Bonjour, Sophie… I mean…Good Morning, Professor.” The professor smiled, setting her briefcase down, and then… she frowned… reaching for the rose-colored scarf lying folded on the desk blotter. She started to speak… just then, her cell phone rang.
“Allo! Yes, this is Dr. Aubert… the police? I do not understand…” Anne watched the color drain from Professor Aubert’s face as she listened to the voice on the other end of the line. A tiny smile crossed Anne’s features as she wondered how long she should allow Sophie to grieve her loss, before making her move. Barely moving her lips…
“I’ve done this for us… everything…it is for us…”