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Without title - A Girl Number 9 ficlet

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They had been divorced for four years when IT happened. Matheson had spent years hunting this psychopathic murderer down, becoming more and more an obsession. Work had consumed everything. Holly had just celebrated her fourth birthday when they finally got hold of Boylan. Almost. Matheson got seriously injured and that was the moment she had lost it. Security – my arse! So much for ‘family’. He had put everything at risk, nothing more mattered to him than stopping the serial killer. This was when she left him.

As she held her daughter close, while listening to the report of what had happened (she took care of covering Holly’s ears to spare her more horror), that he had committed suicide in order to allegedly save the child’s life, she breaks down. What she had always dreaded had become reality. Boylan had managed to get someone of the family killed. On the one hand, she had been right about the bad feelings and the instinct to keep the family as far away from the investigations. On the other hand, she had been wrong - wrong about him. His daughter was more important to him than anything else.

She follows his trial. Apart from the day of her testimony, she sits in the audience, quiet as a mouse and unremarkable. Most people present, especially his colleagues, know they didn’t get along well. That a lot of blaming each other had been said. This is why they are at a loss how to deal with her presence. Only the bearded one offered her his condolences. She is sitting there again, on the penultimate day of his trial. She had smuggled her ex-husband’s firearm into the courtroom. Only getting the weapon had been a criminal act. It is the day the culprit testifies. The other murders are the body of this trial. The girls’. Not James’. Legally, this murder is understood as suicide. She feels the weapon’s weight. Her hand glides into the handbag.

But she changes her mind. She won’t shoot him. She thinks of her daughter – their daughter – and that she would be alone, otherwise. Still, she perceives another burning sensation inside apart from revenge. As she visits her husband’s grave for the first time, she recognizes it. She loves him. Her friends keep telling her it is not unusual. One remembers only the good things in the relationship and suppresses the rest. But Julia knows she always loved him. Pride and fighting had blinded them both. She would never be able to get back what she most longed for. Him.