“What do you mean I’m not on the list?”
“Ma'am I don’t know how else to say this. You aren’t on the list of approved visitors. If you aren’t on the list you aren’t coming in”
The guards eyes were hard and cruel, satisfaction seemed to flash across them. He was enjoying this.
Grace turned away, unable to bear it anymore. She fled from the prison and out into the sun. Only then did she let the tears fall.
The trilling of the alarm pierced through the dream, pulling Grace out of the past and into the cold light of the morning. She reached across the empty space next to her, slamming her hand down and silencing the alarm. Grace drew her hand back, pausing to rest her palm on the cool sheets. Not for the first time, she found herself longing for Spencer to be there but knew she needed to be satisfied with having him out of prison and back at home. Maybe the rest would come in time.
Maybe she should start getting up early again and go running. When Spencer was in prison she had run farther and farther each day until her lungs burnt and she couldn’t feel her legs.
After a cold shower Grace busied herself making breakfast, ready for when Isaac came crashing downstairs. Grace kissed the top of his head, ruffling his hair when he protested. Spencer still hadn’t materialised so she headed to the study-come-spare room. The sofa bed was unmade, instead Spencer was hunched over at the desk, eyes shut but a frown on his face.
Grace laid a hand as gently as she could on his shoulder, reeling back when he jerked awake violently.
“Hey it’s alright” she whispered “You’re safe”
Spencer looked at her ruefully, dragging his fingers through his hair and shaking his head to repell the sleepiness.
“What’s the time?” he mumbled.
“Just gone seven” said Grace. She kept her voice soft and low as if he was a frightened animal and she was trying to keep him from bolting. “Breakfast is ready and there’s a fresh pot of coffee”
For a moment she considered reaching out. They never broke eye contact, each feeling the magnetic pull of the other’s gaze. Like the day they both met.
Grace didn’t move, it wouldn’t have been fair on Spencer. Instead she just smiled.
“It will get cold”
“I’ll be down in a sec,” said Spencer “I promise”
Grace gave a small nod before leaving Spencer alone. He watched her go with a dull ache in his chest. It was as if he was…mourning something and that only made him feel worse.
You can only mourn what is never coming back.
Downstairs he found Isaac finishing up breakfast under Grace’s watchful gaze.
“Morning kiddo” Spencer said. He sat down next to him and Grace handed him a plate of french toast and fruit.
“Morning” the little boy chirped “Are you driving me to school today?”
“Spencer has to work liefling” said Grace. Her tone was a mixture of apologetic and warning.
“But he used to” Isaac grumbled. Spencer surpressed a wince. During his six weeks mandatory leave he had taken Isaac to school before going to the shooting range and he had picked him afterwards. Between picking him up and Grace getting out of work they had gone to the park or the library. Spencer had also taken to teaching Isaac chess and helping him with his homework.
It was the only part of the day when he had felt normal and he missed that after he was reinstated.
“Hey you know what?” asked Spencer. Issac looked up at him glumly “When I’m teaching I can take you in for a whole month straight if you like? And pick you up too if your mom doesn’t mind”
“That sounds lovely doesn’t it?” Grace prompted.
“Yeah it does” said Isaac. Even if Spencer hadn’t been a profiler he would have seen through the boy’s lie. Issac slid off the chair and headed up to finish getting ready for school. Grace and Spencer looked after him, too afraid to look at each other.
Each day was another mile. Through the rain and the biting cold Grace kept running and running. her protested but she kept going. The blood pounding in her brain drowned out the thoughts of Spencer in prison, Spencer hurt, Spencer dead.
It drowned out the guards telling her she couldn’t see him.
It drowned out the platitudes offered by his team.
It drowned out the promises they made that they were going to clear his name.
It drowned out Isaac’s tearful questions, his cries for Spencer to come home.
It drowned out Diana’s screams.
Suddenly her legs went out from underneath her and Grace was sent crashing into the mud. The rain soaked through her clothes and the cold numbed the pain somewhat but there was still a fire under her skin.
Shouts from other runners on the trail sounded distant, as did the strangers who made their way to see if she was okay. Grace did respond, all she could do was sob into the dirt, bury her face in it and block out the world.
It was Grace who broke the silence.
“He’s strong. He’ll adjust”
“I know but he shouldn’t have to” said Spencer “Breakfast was delicious, thank you”
He had hardly eaten any but Grace cleared up the plates without a word.
After a quick shower he was ready to go, pausing at the door to shout a goodbye to Isaac, wishing him a good day at school. Grace hovered at the door, a ritual silently established since the day he had moved in. They both stood with the weight of the world between them.
“Stay safe” Grace whispered.
“I will” promised Spencer.
They stood in silence for a second as they both thought about the kiss that never came.