“Where do you think they’re headed?” Emma asked, her voice a whisper as she turned behind her to glance at the fading ambulances.
Shannon looked in the rearview mirror and tried to stifle the foreboding feeling growing inside of him. That was exactly the question his mind was darkly filled with. Where exactly could they be going? It was so early….the state they had left Jared in.
“Shannon? Did you hear me?” Emma looked at him, her eyes nearly begging him to make a response to something she had said. It was cold between them, no longer lit with a shared horror. The thread that had once held them together was now ripping apart, they both could feel it.
“I heard you!” He snapped, his eyes dark as he turned to her. “I heard you.” He repeated more softly.
“Then where do you think they’re heading?” Emma questioned again, pushing her hair behind her ear. Was she really so good at pretending nothing at all had happened?
Shannon abruptly stepped on the brakes causing Emma to question him loudly. He ignored her and put the car in reverse, turning back towards the house they had just left.
“What are you doing?! We can’t go back!” Emma shouted, her hands wringing with heavy confusion.
Shannon didn’t reply, he just kept his eyes on the road and continued driving back to Jared’s house. He could darkness crawling up inside of him, a shadow passing over him that left no room for any kind of hope.
The house came into view after a long stretch of road as did a gray overhead cloud rising from where it was. The fear tightened inside of Shannon as he saw the ambulances, fire trucks, cop cars. They were all there, all ready to see whatever show Jared had put on.
Shannon tore open the door and hurried out. He was followed by Emma whose eyes were wide with worry for herself and for whatever had just happened. Shannon looked up at the charred house and tried to remember once what had already faded in his mind: the past.
Harshly he swallowed back his fear and walked towards one of the officers who was standing nearby. The officer looked at Shannon and immediately gave him his full attention.
“Where is he?” Shannon demanded an answer from just the fierceness in his eyes.
“Who are you, sir? Do you live here?” The officer asked, resting one of his hands on his hips.
“Where the hell is my brother?”
“Look, I just got here but let me get someone who might be able to tell you something.”
The officer walked away leaving Shannon stranded without a thing to do. Emma had reached him and they both just stood there, the ashes of the world they had once known blowing up in the cool breeze. Was this also their doing? Had this stemmed from what they had done?
A commotion at the front of the house took everyone’s attention and EMTs rushed to where it was. Shannon started to push his way through the crowd, his eyes burning from the after effects of the fire. Finally he made his way through, being held back by another officer. His eyes fell on Jared, he was near unconsciousness and yet his eyes were still opened. They found Shannon’s in the dark, their eyes met before Shannon had to blink away the stare.
“Let me go!” Shannon yelled, fighting against the officer until he broke through and was at Jared’s side. “Why, Jared?” He demanded, taking his face into his hands.
They were telling Shannon to let go, they needed to take him to the hospital right away. They managed to get Shannon away and they took Jared into the back of one of the ambulances. Shannon watched it drive away, the night capturing it and stealing Jared away from him all over again. He could feel his tears wrecking him inside, capturing the sanity he couldn’t hold onto. This was what he had earned, this was the life he had made himself live. He was going to wallow it, die away with it until his very last breath was breathed. He couldn’t hope, not even a prayer for some kind of change could be uttered from his lips. He wanted to get far away, he wanted to stay. He wanted Emma to leave and yet he needed someone who shared his guilt, his blame. He had to do as Jared told him, he had to see it for the rest of his life.
Jared’s eyes slid open and immediately his hand rose to his chest. The smoke still hadn’t entirely cleared from his lungs which made breathing difficult but other than that he was unharmed. He thought of calling the nurse but thought better of it deciding that he just wanted to be left alone. Later on they would all be surrounded his bed again just like the day before, recognizing him and wanting something from him, he wasn’t even sure yet. He was glad though that the press hadn’t been allowed to breach the hospitals walls, he wasn’t in any state to explain this to the public just yet. They could have their rumors for now, it wouldn’t hurt anybody.
He had been in this hospital for 8 days, from what he had counted and everyday started to feel longer than the first. He knew where he was heading after this stay, he knew what awaited him and somehow it felt almost comforting. He knew that was a crazy thought but he held to it just the same.The darkness still seeped beneath his skin, still stole every breath he managed to let out. He was numb, his soul was broken. He had no other way but to live in the shadows that had fallen over him. He knew it wasn't much of a life but his darkness, his tears, they were his, they belonged to him. It was the only thing that belonged to him in this pain.
The cops had been by here once, startled he would assume from his confession. So startled he was sure they wouldn’t come back for awhile, until he was out of here. He had told them more than just the arson confession. He had told them more than they had signed on for and when the evidence eventually turned up they had no choice but to believe him.
He told them about Hannah, how her body was charred to ashes in the attic, where he had started the fire. He told them who she had been to him, how he had started the fire to get away from her haunting memory. He told them he killed her. Of course they weren’t even sure if they should believe him but when he told them the same thing over and over again they had nothing else to go on. So they had left the hospital, heads hung low and disbelief in their eyes. Apparently to them a celebrity didn’t do those kinds of things. He knew that someday they would probably sell their story, talk about the crazed man who had once been Jared Leto and his dark actions.
He told them he had killed her during the Summer, that she had confessed to him of having an affair and he had been unable to deal with it. He told them he had kept her in the attic so she would always be near to him. But when the thought and memory became too overwhelming he set the world they had shared together aflame. They had asked about Shannon and Emma. He said they weren’t even there when it had happened because surely if they had been it would never have happened. Shannon and Emma had been working on something over at Emma’s place. They asked about Audrey –who had been passed out on the driveway when the police had arrived- she was a simple fling, one who didn’t fit into this mess. Jared had heard that with his seal of approval Audrey had recorded her own record. Apparently she remembered nothing at all about what had happened.
He was grateful the DVD had burned in the fire, that everything that would go against his story had been destroyed. He wondered if anyone would ever come upon the truth, if one day either Emma or Shannon would step forward and admit to it.
He had burned that house in order to escape the nightmares and memories that refused to let him go. He had burned it all in an attempt to set himself free. He had heard screams as the flames began to lick away the foundation of the house. And yet even afterwards he had heard her, seen Hannah’s face in every person he saw. So now he hoped that being so far away from where she had ever been would help. He hoped that being in that prison she would finally let him go. He needed to be free of his own darkness and if a few iron bars were what could give him that he was willing to take them. He didn’t want to go crazy with her memory, he wanted to release himself of the past. Maybe one day he would be let out of there. Maybe one day Shannon or Emma would find that they did love him, cared about him and would confess to the truth. But damn that would be hard to do because he gave them one hell of an alibi.