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Women Who Stay, 15

The Command

By Suze KayPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 3 min read

Chapter 1 ... Chapter 14


"I can see you're reconsidering our friendship," she said with another sad smile.

"No, not at all." I wasn't lying. The truth was I'd never considered her a friend at all, despite what I said in the park. She was an unpleasant woman with an unlovable code of ethics. She was a bigot. She was a subject. "I'm trying to think over what you've told me before, about whether you knew anything or not. Because it sounds to me like you did know, if that's what you did with the skull."

"I believe I told you I knew nothing before we signed our contracts. But, well, can you blame me? You hadn't signed the nondisclosure agreement yet."

"Yes, but in the park last week, you intimated you hadn't --"

"You made assumptions. I've warned you about that before." She stretched her neck, back and forth. "And even now, I'll say with objective verity: I didn't know."

"Janie, you held a skull in your hands. You disposed of it for him. Why would you do it if you didn't know?"

She looked shifty but answered with confidence. "The distance between suspicion and knowledge is vast. It takes a burden of proof to shift the scales."

"What would it have taken, then? To know?" She said nothing. "Would you have had to see him kill a man in front of you?"

"It wouldn't have come to that," she snapped. "The skull could have come from anywhere. For all we know, it could very well have been from an anatomical model. God knows we had at least one kicking around that house. It could have been left by someone else. A previous owner. It could have been fake."

"It wasn't, though."

"This, I think, is one of the big differences between you and me," she said, raising her hand in a scribble through the air to request our check from Sheila. "You make leaps. You hear a few things, connect a few dots, and then make it your gospel. Perhaps that quality is what makes your articles exceptional -- I think you, as a person, have to believe what you're writing to make it good. I noticed that when you didn't believe some of the women from your series, you wrote with less charm."

I began spluttering an embarrassed defense when she cut me off. "No, don't try. What is it you told me last week? Oh, yes. 'I'm not here to make you feel better.'"

Sheila dropped the check. Once she was a safe distance away, and my mind had settled, I said, "Please don't walk off in a huff. I don't want to erase the progress we've made. Together."

She patted my hand. "No, dear. But only if you do the same. I'm actually glad we're having this chat. It was overdue. When you listen back to this conversation, you'll hear it wasn't me who got emotional today, but you. Please do try and control yourself better." She pulled on her coat and stood to leave. "Oh, and I meant what I said about you writing poorly when you're in doubt. Don't you dare do that with my story. You give it the commitment it deserves, and the words it deserves, too. If you don't believe something I say, then I command you to clarify it with me."

"And what if I still don't believe you?"

"Then write that," she said, and waved to Sheila on her way out.

I paid the check. I took the train back home to my apartment, wondering the whole way why I felt like crying.


Read on to Chapter 16

True CrimeFictionCliffhanger

About the Creator

Suze Kay

Pastry chef by day, insomniac writer by night.

Find here: stories that creep up on you, poems to stumble over, and the weird words I hold them in.

Or, let me catch you at

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Comments (4)

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  • Belle11 days ago

    The way Janie has control over the entire situation, and now even over the main character's emotions... a manipulative woman, is she more complicit than we know? Onwards!

  • John Cox24 days ago

    Janie has the upper hand. But it's hard to see how it could be otherwise given she has the story to tell, not the other way round.

  • Rachel Deemingabout a month ago

    So Janie's got under her skin. You know, it can't be a nice situation to be in, regardless of your ambition, to interview someone who can view the murders of others so dispassionately.

  • Kenny Pennabout a month ago

    “The distance between suspicion and knowledge is vast”. This is such a true statement for anyone who has ever loved someone. That line really hit home for me

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