Violet screamed at the same time that Jay reached her and saw what she was looking at. He wrapped his arms around her from behind and dragged her away in search of help.
HELP ARRIVED FIRST IN THE FORM OF THE Bonney Lake Police Department and East Pierce Fire and Rescue, the first responders in this part of the lake.
Violet was wrapped in itchy wool blankets and perched in the back of the big red ambulance with an emesis basin hovering on the tops of her knees. She had puked twice since Jay had dragged her away from the watery grave she’d discovered. She’d never been bothered this way by any of the animals she found, but somehow the image of the dead girl, lying lifelessly beneath the water’s surface, made her feel sick. It wasn’t until the immediate shock had worn off that her stomach finally settled down. The bowl she now held was just a precaution.
Besides, there were other distractions to take her mind off her weak stomach.
Being in the presence of so many men—and women—who carried guns for a living was a little disturbing for Violet. Not because she was afraid of them, but because in general, those who carried weapons had a higher probability of using them. And those who used them had a greater potential for bearing the imprints of death on them.
Innocent people carried imprints too.
Hunters, occasionally. War veterans, possibly. Police officers, certainly…maybe not all, but definitely some.
The ones she could sense at the moment, aside from the obvious echo from the girl in the water, were faded and bland, but in general, this was the kind of scene Violet would avoid whenever possible.
Unless, like now, she was the one who had discovered the body.
Her uncle Stephen had been called, at Jay’s request, and even though his jurisdiction was almost a half hour away, he’d arrived in less than fifteen minutes. Violet wondered how many stoplights he’d blown through, with his sirens blaring, to get to her so fast.
She didn’t ask, because she didn’t care. She was just so grateful that he was there. She had felt immediately better when she saw him rushing toward her, and she’d let him wrap her in a bear hug like when she was a child. Having him there made her feel safe.
When he finally released her so she could breathe again, he slipped an arm loosely, but protectively, around her shoulders. “Geez, Vi, sucks to be you sometimes, doesn’t it?” He squeezed her once again, quickly, and then added more seriously, “I’m really sorry you had to see that.”
Her uncle seemed to understand that she didn’t want to talk about it. “I think they’re almost finished taking Jay’s statement. I’ll stay with you while they talk to you, okay? I promise I won’t leave you alone.”
Her parents arrived separately since her dad had come straight from work. They were both stressed and worried, and they too buried her in embraces, and whispered gentle reassurances, as she endured recounting the events several times to several different people from several different agencies.
She and Jay had each given the details that led up to, and included, finding a corpse floating in the shallow waters of the lake, cradled in the willowy grasses. Although in Jay’s recounting there were no lies to tell, no stories to fabricate. Violet wished that her account could have been so simple.
But it wasn’t.
Coincidence. Chance. These were the words she counted on to create a veil of deceit, to keep her “gift” a secret.
She must have been convincing enough, though, because she could see the sympathy in the eyes of everyone who heard her story. Sincere looks that conveyed compassion directed at the poor girl who had stumbled upon such a horrific scene.
Her uncle Stephen’s presence was reassuring to her on many levels, and eventually, maybe sooner than was usual, she was released to her family. He also took responsibility for getting Jay home, since Jay’s mother, the only woman in the known universe who didn’t own a cell phone, couldn’t be reached.
Violet rode with her dad, but Stephen insisted on taking Jay with him. Jay didn’t complain as he climbed into the front of the police cruiser, asking if he could turn on the siren.
He was like an eager five-year-old. It was kind of childish. But also really adorable.
Violet was glad for the relative calm that riding with her dad afforded her. He was a still sort of man, and sometimes just being within arm’s reach of him could soothe her most frayed nerves. Besides, unlike her mom, who was a little New Agey and was always encouraging Violet to “share” her feelings, her dad wouldn’t press her for information before she was ready. He would wait her out, listening silently when she did decide the time was right.
Violet leaned her head back and tried to absorb some of her father’s tranquillity.
After a time, though, she couldn’t not speak. “There was a light,” she explained. Her voice sounded strange, as if it were echoing up from a long, vacant tunnel. She cleared her throat and tried again. “I saw a rainbow of lights coming up from below the water.”
He knew, of course. Not about the light, but that she had in some way been called by the girl’s lifeless body.
Her dad was quiet in his usual way. He was serious, stable, solid. As always, he was Violet’s rock.
“I didn’t say anything about it to Jay. I just followed it, so I could get a better look. Jay didn’t even realize what I was looking for until it was too late.” She kept her eyes closed as the car drifted over the familiar highway toward home.
Her dad reached over and squeezed her knee. That was all it took.