Jane appeared not to have noticed Elena’s outburst. She sat staring wide eyed at some point on the floor, lost in herself. The strong ones are not supposed to do this, Elena thought, shuffling her feet nervously. It leaves the rest of us without any bearing.
Elena knelt inches from the chair. She was afraid to touch her, afraid she might snap. “Jane?” she called, “Come back. Please, Jane.”
Jane started, as if coming awake, but her eyes didn’t move from the spot on the floor. When she spoke, her voice was deep and rough. “At first I thought she was being dramatic. You know how Natalie was. She always knew how to get attention. But there was something different in her voice that night. She sounded really, truly scared. I made her tell me where she was and to promise not to do anything until I could get there. I called the police, of course. I told her to lock the doors and windows and to not let anyone in. And to get something to use as a weapon if it came to that. But none of it mattered.” She blinked, eyes bright with unshed tears, and looked directly into Elena’s eyes. “Was there something else I could have done?”
Elena blinked, stunned. Maybe, her mind railed, maybe there was. Her hands fidgeted restlessly as her mind played through multiple possible outcomes. None of them could shake loose the ultimate outcome, or Jane’s question.