Status: Complete.

Letters of the Loneliest


The sun is positioned high in the sky when Lily wakes. Its bright rays blare straight into her window, causing her to pull the covers over her head. She groans, eyes still feeling gritty despite the full twelve hours of sleep she'd gotten. It would take her a month to catch up on all of her restless sleep.

Knowing she still has an incredible amount of work to do, she drags herself from her toasty cocoon. As she stumbles through the tiny apartment, eyes bleary, she's thankful for the weekend off. At least she can work from home in her pajamas.

Lily spreads everything she has over her coffee table, journal in the center. She still feels uneasy, the last entry not helping any.

She props her chin on her hands, staring. The television in her bedroom provides a slight murmur of background noise. She catches bits and pieces of the story. Something about an influx of homeless veterans.

"What are you trying to tell me?" she asks, tapping her top lip, brow furrowed.

She sits another thirty minutes, never coming any closer to figuring it out. Finally, she shoves her furniture back and changes clothes. Maybe a little dancing will get her blood flowing and heighten her awareness.

She's read over the information so many times that it's imprinted in her brain. It flows carelessly as her body weaves words.

Something is linking the entries. The writers have something in common, besides the obvious depressing train of thought. The only upbeat piece was written by the murderer. How ironic, not to mention creepy as hell.

Lily doesn't stop until her lungs are near exploding and her heart threatens to escape her chest cavity. She collapses in a heap on the floor, drenched with sweat. Her muscles scream, but she smiles, loving the limits she's able to push.

The program has changed when she walks through the bedroom to her closet sized bathroom. Under the hot spray, her mind races. The practice has definitely helped.

Her brain jumps between the journal and the earlier show. The one about the veterans. Her heart feels heavy at the thought of so many brave men and women getting less than honorable treatment.

By the time she's out of the shower and dried off, Lily feels even more confused. She had hoped to feel refreshed and ready to get back at her work, but it feels the opposite. She feels draggy and overwhelmed, head beginning to pound.

After popping the top on a cold beer, she relaxes into the couch, lazily flipping through the notebook. Her eyes skim the words, looking for anything that could tie the pieces together. She hasn't completely dismissed the idea that one person could be responsible for the whole thing.

It's on her last flip through, that something stands out. She shoves her can onto the coffee table, rounding herself over the journal. The dates! The dates are always the same, different month, but always the same day. It isn't much, but it's one thing that is similar. Maybe something new to focus on.

How had she missed it before? What's the significance of it? It has to mean something. What are the odds that everyone would write on the exact same day?

On a whim, she decides to look into the dates. She doesn't expect to find much, but anything is more than she has right now. It's like a needle in a haystack without even an inkling of what she's trying to find.

Dozens of results pop up, containing the date she had typed. Most were articles about various topics, some news reports on catastrophes around the world. Nothing immediately jumps out at her.

She continues searching and digging, hopeful that something will finally come up. Then, something does. On the third page, she gets a hit. It's an article about a wealthy young man that passed on the date of the serial killer's entry.

Her eyes read over the article. It's an ordinary piece, briefly stating his life and death. Her hope deflates until she gets towards the end. She jerks in shock, flailing arm sending her warmed beer flying. She doesn't notice.

She races to her bedroom, shoving the sheets and pillows around, trying to locate her phone. After finally finding it stuffed in a pillow case, she digs through her purse where she eventually finds what she's looking for. Her fingers tremble as she punches in the numbers.

After being sent to voicemail, she tries the main number. A woman's voice answers, and Lily can practically hear her chomping her gun. She grits her teeth, knowing now isn't the time to worry about it. She's informed he's not in the office today.

Cursing, she thrusts a hand through her hair. She taps the card on the table, trying to think of her next move. Her movements stop as she notices the dark writing on the reverse side of the card. A cell number!

As soon as he answers, she wastes no time in explaining what she's found. She rattles off her address and hangs up only after he agrees to come within the hour.

Twenty minutes later, there's a knock on the door. She quickly lets him in, bypassing pleasantries, and urging him to the couch. Once sitting, she shows him the piece, pointing out the names of two previous girlfriends, who also happen to have been victims of the serial killer.

"He's dead now! The killer is dead!" she exclaims, repeatedly tapping the detective's arm in excitement.

"I admit, it seems coincidental, but there's no way to officially link him."

Lily's jaw drops. "Are you serious? This guy has to be him!"

"Another thing, three of the victims were killed after his death. There's no way it's possible."

"Maybe they were just found afterwards."

"Let me see that notebook again."

"Here, the names are right he-"

"I'm interested in looking at something else."

Lily watches, struggling to stay quiet as Barry peruses the book. The silence fills her ears, making her antsy. She shifts from side to side, crossing and uncrossing her legs half a dozen times.

His deep baritone is so loud that she jumps when he speaks again. "Lily?"

"Hm?" she asks, leaning closer to see the notebook better.

"Did you know you have a giant puddle of beer over there?" Her eyes follow where his slim finger points.

"Shit, I forgot!"

Jumping up, she scurries into the kitchen, finding no clean rags. She has no better luck in the bathroom. The pile of laundry hiding in the corner behind her bathroom door confirms why.

Back in the kitchen, she sniffs a couple rags left behind the faucet. Choosing the one of lesser stink, she soaks it and returns back to the living room. There's a towel over the spot, already sponging it up.

Barry shrugs when she looks his way. "I found it behind the pillow."

Lily drops to her knees, taking longer than necessary to scrub up the spot. Her curtain of dark hair hides the blossoming flush on her cheeks. She can't remember the last time someone came to her apartment, especially a man.

She takes both dirty articles to the growing mountain of clothes, vowing to spend the next day cleaning up.

"Sorry, I really don't spend a lot of time here. Between work and dancing..." she trails off, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.

Barry's warm eyes watch her, but he says nothing. She crosses her arms, a tad uncomfortable under his scrutiny. The quiet goes on forever, echoing through her home.

"You dance?"

She's momentarily caught off guard. "Um, yea, yea, since I was little." He stares, expression unreadable. "I actually just got a part on Broadway."

"Congratulations," he tells her, smiling softly.

Another silence follows. Lily finds herself unable to look away. There's something familiar about him, something that she's only just now noticed.

"I need to run out to my car real quick," he announces suddenly, popping to his feet. "I'll be right back."


The sun begins sinking and Barry is still there. He has made the coffee table into a makeshift desk. His work computer is set up, a pad of paper lying next to it. He taps a pen on it, rubbing his chin while staring at the screen.

She sits at the small, high top kitchen table, her work spread out before her. In the past few hours, she's found herself spending more and more time watching the quiet man before her.

He's long since shed his suit jacket and polished shoes. His sleeves are rolled to his elbows, showing off dark, muscular forearms. He looks bigger than in life in her teeny place, but he appears to belong.

The scene is comfortable, easy, as if this is the way they unwind every evening. She bites her lip, forcing herself to look back down at her work.

March 17, 2015

People look down on me, never knowing the sacrifices I've made. The things I've done. The things I've seen. They see me on the street and ignore me, or pity me, or sneer. They think I'm an addict, an alcoholic, a gambler. They blame me for my own downfall.

Maybe in a way it's true. I made the choices that have brought me here. I joined the military many, many years ago. I chose to become a doctor, because I didn't much like guns or the thought of killing someone. I wanted to save people.

For a poor, small town boy like myself, it was the only option. My parents were farmers, worked from dawn til dusk, but barely made ends meet. They could never afford to send me to school, nevermind for how long I'd need to go.

My father was wounded in a war, honorably discharged, extremely decorated. The first time I ever saw him cry was when I was sworn in. He said he'd never been prouder.

I wonder sometimes, what he'd say now?

See, even though I never stepped foot on the front line, I still saw things. I still done things. Things no one should have to.

When I left, I assumed the worst part would be behind me. I got to move on with my life and forget these terrible things. But that wasn't the case. I was different. I saw things different.

I got tired of watching my family tiptoe around me, waiting for me to explode. So I left home. Heard about a position at a veteran's hospital in a big city. Routine things, like high blood pressure and such. Slow paced and nothing too strenuous.

Then the flashbacks began. It started out as nightmares. Things that would make me sit up at night in a cold sweat. They escalated, until I had trouble deciphering fact from fiction. I grew suspicious of those around me. Every little noise had me ducking.

The money was easy to walk away from. The nice house, the car. Those were things I didn't have growing up, so leaving them behind proved simple enough. I left my job and let everything go.

Drugs and alcohol didn't consume me. My own brain consumed itself. People take a look at me and assume I'm on something, but there's nothing more harmful to someone than oneself.

"Why don't I take you out," Barry's voice breaks through, bringing me back to reality, "for dinner?"

"Oh, um, that's okay. You really don't have to."

"I want to."

Lily bites her lip, meeting his gaze head on. He really is attractive. She can imagine the sinewy muscle under his dark flesh.

"Why don't I order something and we stay in?" It's a bold question and she wonders if he catches the underlying meaning.

An instantaneous smile breaks out on his face, confirming that he does. Her cheeks heat up, but she returns the smile.

"That sounds great."

"Okay, great," she repeats back.

They linger, caught up in a smoldering conversation using only their eyes. Lily can read the attraction that lays beneath. She knows where the night is going and she's surprised by how nonchalant she feels about it.

"I've been wondering something." He raises his brows, signaling for her to continue. "Do you always lounge in a suit and tie?"

He looks down, laughing as he smooths out his tie. "Only when I'm invited over by pretty ladies."

"How often does that happen?"

"This is the first time," he responds with a shrug. "How am I doing?"

"I'll let you know tomorrow."