The medical examiner that met her at the entrance to the autopsy suites reminded her so much of her grandfather that she almost started crying. He very gently offered her the option of viewing the bodies from behind a window but, as she discussed with the therapist, she explained that she needed to see the physical bodies themselves. She thanked him for looking out for her and he gave her a faint smile before wheeling her into one of the suites.
“Would you like me to stay?” he asked, locking the brakes of her wheelchair.
Sam shook her head; this was something she needed to do herself without having an audience. She needed to experience her feelings alone, without any words or comforting gestures from anyone else. He simply nodded at her response and left a walker near her so she would be able to get around out of the wheelchair.
After taking several large breaths, rising gingerly from her seat and acquainting herself with the walker, she moved over to where Sarah’s body lay; she realized that she wasn’t quite ready to see Ryan’s body yet. Thankfully, the older gentleman had already pulled the sheets away from their faces so she could see them clearly. She was quite sure she would never have had enough courage to pull away the cold, white cloth from their faces, not knowing what she would find underneath.
Sarah’s face looked nothing as it had when Sam saw her last; the evil, menacing grin was gone and the anger that had emanated from her eyes was replaced with closed lids, making it look as though she was sleeping peacefully. Memories of all the times she shared with her “best” friend came flooding through and Sam wept quietly.
The slideshow in her mind played scenes from the decade of time she had spent with Sarah and her sister. There was the day she moved in with them and the friends, trying to hang some fabric on the wall, collapsed on each other when Sam’s sofa bottom finally caved in. Then, there was the time when she had tried to teach Sarah to swim in the ocean; her friend had gripped her so tightly, they both almost drowned when they started laughing. Or the time when Sarah, her sister and Sam danced in the rain at night in the middle of Faneuil Hall after their bar crawl was interrupting by a freak storm. Hundreds of moments swam through her mind and she couldn’t help but smile until she came to the end of her picture show.
The final memory that played was by far the hardest one to swallow. Sam remembered clearly the day that Ryan showed up at the sisters’ apartment with the two officers to collect her. As they were dragging her out, she had turned to Sarah, reaching her arms out as tears rolled down her face. Her friend was crying and trying to push past one of the men to get her. Realizing she couldn’t fight someone stronger than her, she blew Sam a kiss and turned away. At the time, Sam thought it was because she couldn’t bear seeing her friend hurt; in reality, Sarah was probably upset because Ryan wasn’t there to get her, not the thought that she may never see Sam again.
The pain of knowing her friend had betrayed her from the beginning made Sam cry even harder. It was like someone was tearing her heart into pieces. In her mind, friends and family were always supposed to support one another and be that rock in the storm that could be unfailing relied on. Sam had no family left before she met Sarah; she needed someone to make her feel that she wasn’t hanging there out on a limb by herself. Sarah was supposed to be that person for her.
The tears streamed down her face and she looked around the room to find a box of tissues. Instead, her gaze fell on Ryan’s face and she wiped the tears from her eyes with the back of her hand. Using the walker, she slowly made her way over to where her husband’s body lay there, as cold as the table beneath him. As it had turned out, his heart and soul were beyond freezing.
The fear that Sam had felt from early in their marriage until a few days came rushing back and it almost caused her to stumble. Not knowing if it was against policy, and not really caring, Sam reached out her hand and put it in front of Ryan’s nose and mouth; she couldn’t feel any air coming out. Even then, there was an irrational part of her that thought Ryan would wake up the minute she turned her back.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, all of the anger that had been building in her over the last few months was stronger than that irrational part and rage starting building in her stomach. She hated the man that lay before her on that table; he was the reason why her life had been turned upside down and was the cause of all of her torture and abuse. For the first time in her life, she was glad that another person was dead and she hoped that he had suffered in the end.
Before making her way back to the chair, she leaned down to Ryan’s ear and spoke quietly and clearly, as though he could hear her.
“You lose you bastard. I hope you go straight to hell.”
Without any hesitation, she made her way to the wheelchair and sat down, pulling the release for her breaks. Some of the relief she had been searching for rained down and she felt like she could truly breathe for the first time in a long time.