Darling Daughters

Chapter Twenty-Seven

 

Summers absence over the two weeks had lead Elizabeth to be a hive of productivity. The house was clean, the laundry and ironing had been done. In Elizabeth’s opinion the house was perfection. Except for the mess and chaos that Summer brought with her. Elizabeth had gotten so used to hanging around with Summer it was like she had lost a sister, even if it was for two weeks, she felt lonelier now than she had in a long time.

Thankfully Summer was due back the next morning, something Elizabeth was now well prepared for. She was very well prepared at home, but at work she wasn’t prepared for what had happened over her lunch break. In her absence the bread dough ball had become a mountain and it was going to take a lot of work for her to tame. Elizabeth found herself cursing this particular recipe before setting to work.

Caroline had closed up while Elizabeth finished baking off the dough that had been put into the hot ovens. Caroline was elbow deep in the display stands when the door opened. The man she had heard rumours of, the rude one, always in the hoodie and grey slacks stood in the doorway. The one who had barged past so many people.  Caroline told the man they were closed, but he smiled calmly, “it’s ok, I’m just here to see Ellybeth.”

Caroline looked at him for a moment, no one ever called Elizabeth that. He put his rucksack down on the chair and made it clear he would wait. Caroline disappeared to the door way, still keeping an eye on the man. “Someone here to see you.” Caroline grimaced, Elizabeth walked towards her, “I’m not sure you want to see this one.” Elizabeth walked into the room buttoning up her cardigan. “I’ll check on the ovens honey, yell if you need me.”

Elizabeth nodded, not quite noticing Caroline’s tone. Her face went white as a sheet when she heard the man’s voice.

“No need to button up for me, I’ve seen it all before Ellybeth.” He smirked striding across the room, “you look surprised to see me, did you really think I wouldn’t come and find you honey, I’ve been keeping an eye on you.”

Elizabeth stepped back into a table. “Oh I wouldn’t back away like that if I were you, it could be” he paused turning his smirk into something more sinister, “dangerous.”

Elizabeth couldn’t move, it was like she had been pulled back in time, “you’re already in enough trouble as it is, I know what you did. Did you really hate me that much?”

Elizabeth tried to pull her body back towards the oven room where she had faintly heard Caroline’s footsteps retreat to a minute or two earlier. But she couldn’t find a way to get her mind and body to act as one as he continued.

“I didn’t think you had it in you,” he was closer now, his body casting a shadow over her. “You used to say you didn’t think you could do something like that, I remember how against abortion you used to be. Yet here you are, standing like nothing ever happened. Like we never happened. Like it never existed.” The venom in his voice was the same poison he had used before, Elizabeth remembered it.

His words, his tone, everything had gotten under her skin, her blood ran hot and she remembered everything he had made her afraid of. Suddenly all the rage and hatred she had for him was right under her skin instead of blood it was hot lava and it seeped from every pore.

“I didn’t have an abortion. I didn’t kill my baby. That was you. That night I ended up in hospital, again, after you lost control, again. I miscarried. It took losing my baby to make me see I had to leave. You are poison, I wish I had done it sooner.”

Elizabeth held her fists tight by her side, she had stopped cowering and stood straight.

He took Elizabeth’s words in, his face flushed, it wasn’t the shame that lingered it was anger. She was right. He refused to believe it still, “you’re a liar. You did it. It is your fault.”

“Steve, you and I both know it is your fault. You are pathetic. You kept using your girlfriend as a punching bag, even when you knew I was pregnant. Men like you, they aren’t men at all. You don’t deserve pity, or sympathy, or forgiveness. You deserve nothing, not from me, not from anyone.”

Steve snapped, he reached for the chair behind him and lifted it over his head to bring it down on Elizabeth. Elizabeth put her arm out to protect her, it took the force of the chair and there was a rather audible snap that turned her stomach. “Not the first time you’ve done that is it?”

He turned around and began throwing tables and chairs around. “It’s you, you do this to me. You turn me into this monster!”

Caroline came in through the doorway at the noise. Steve kept throwing things and this time he threw a napkin dispenser in Caroline’s direction. It hit her hard in the side of her head. She was still standing but her body swayed on the spot. Elizabeth moved towards her with her other arm to keep her standing upright.

***

Excited for their plans this evening Simon locked up the Diner to go to see Elizabeth. The sound of shouting and the smashing of glass caught his attention. A sudden burst of flames erupted in the bakery and a man, a rather familiar looking man ran from the building pushing past a group of teenagers that had tried to block his way. They couldn’t stop the man, he barged past like a bull.

Simon felt a swarm of panic in his throat. He yelled at the teenagers to call for help.

Somewhere behind the flames Simon saw a shadow in the smoke moving back. Taking a chance Simon ran inside trying to get past the flames that flung themselves at him and the fresh wave of air from the door. The heat hit him like a wall. He couldn’t get past.

Simon swore and ran around to the back exit. He heard the teenagers in the background calling him back, calling the emergency services. The commotion was attracting attention but Simon didn’t stop. He reached the back door to find Elizabeth struggling with Caroline trying to force her to stay awake, trying to force her to move.

Simon called out into the growing smoke, he heard Elizabeth shout back, she told him to take Caroline. He pulled Caroline, Elizabeth told him she was right behind him, she was choking on the smoke but she pushed herself. Simon left carrying Caroline. He put her on the grass and turned around looking for Elizabeth. She hadn’t come out.

He ran back into the building to find her. Something heavy had fallen and pinned her to the ground. Simon tried to pull it off her, it was hot. He pulled his sleeves over his hands to try again and shifted it enough that he could pull Elizabeth out, her scream pierced through his ears. He pulled her up by her arm which made her scream again, the arm she had used to block Steve’s chair. The smoke was growing even thicker.

He pulled her out of the building and onto the street, the smoke tumbled out behind them but the heat pursued them, stuck to their sweating skin.

The paramedics pulled them apart to assess them before the town saw them being taken in the ambulances as the fire crew arrived to tackle the inferno.

***

The police had gotten access to Simon first and began to ask him questions. His main concern however was Elizabeth, remembering how Caroline and Elizabeth had disappeared almost immediately as they arrived.

Simon kept asking for answers but no one could give him any. He tried to call Summer reaching voicemail he stuttered, he didn’t know what to say or how to put what had happened into words that made much sense, he kept telling her to come straight to the hospital.

They had bandaged Simon’s rather lucky minor burns and kept an eye on him for the smoke inhalation. But he was free to go. Instead he found out where they had taken Elizabeth.

He walked into the room, her body was limp in the bed, she had been knocked out with sedatives. The cast on her arm and leg looked so big and she looked so tiny to him. So fragile. He sat in the chair next to her bed and kept watch until he finally gave into the heavy feeling in his eyes and dozed off.

***

Summer switched her phone on as she got off the plane, in moments it was alive and buzzing with texts and voicemails. Summer left baggage having heard the messages she was panicking, struggling to wait for her case, desperate to leave. She found Cassandra waiting for her.

Thomas and Kingston had left voicemails filled with wild speculation. Simon had stuttered and rambled, he never rambled. Zach had texted her to say he would keep an eye on the house for her. No one told her what she wanted to know most, is Elizabeth ok?

Cassandra pulled Summer into the car with her suitcase and they drove straight to the hospital as Summer sat silent trying her best just to breathe.

 

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