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It was eleven twenty-five. Mia had just finished tying her copper hair into a neat bun with a piece of black ribbon.
That was the day of the execution and her conscience was hanging heavy, like it was being pulled down by the dead man’s soul. She couldn’t decide if it was ‘right’ that a man should die for a crime she know he couldn’t commit, knowing that if she told anyone, it would be her neck the noose was around. And as much as she liked him she wasn’t prepared to risk her own life for his.
Just before she left, she practiced her sad face in the mirror. He was her brother, she was supposed to look sad at his execution. Hallow tears rushed down her cheeks, leaving grey and purple streaks where her mascara had run, exposing the bruises on her normally porcelain skin.
Her mother never believed for a moment her son was killer, but she died before the trial even began. Rather conveniently for Mia, the last person she was known to have seen. Mia had to hurry now, if she didn’t get there fast she wouldn’t get a good view amongst the roaring mass of spectators.
12:31, this is minute Frank white breathed his last. The horror of it. He heard them cheer louder as the noose tightened, heard them cheering for his death. The death of an innocent man. By 12:33 the crowd had already began to disperse.
“Mrs Prince!” she turned back to the crowd, scanning it for the caller: Dale Stewart, “Slum-of-the-Earth” as her mother liked to call him.
“I’m not Mrs Price anymore.” A rehearsed tear rolled down Mia’s check as she spoke, causing a subtle grin to grow on one side of his mouth.
“Oh, I heard, sorry for your loss,” Mr Stewart said, even though really he wasn’t. “We need to talk…in private.”
“I think you’ll find we don’t.”
“Not for long, I’ve just got some questions, that’s all”
He was late, five minutes late, which was strange for him. Mia began to have a feeling that something had gone wrong. The kind that bothers and gnaws away at go from the inside out. She didn’t like the felling, it made her nervous. She stirred the cup of coffee she’d ordered, even though she had no intention to ever drink or pay for it. She just revolved that spoon around her cup, eagle eyes fixed on the Saloon’s twin doors.
Five minutes became seven, eight, twelve then, to Mia’s relief Dale Stewart waddled in, dragging a leather suit case behind him. He didn’t say hello to her, just plumped himself in the chair directly opposite her’s.
“You’re late, Dale?” she moaned, glazing into the churning liquid inside her cup.
Nothing from Dale
Mia stirred her tea again, making an awful clinching sound as her spoon hit the edges of the china cup, more of an attempt at easing her boredom than of breaking the silence.
He bought his briefcase up from under the table, resting it on his pot belly, tumbling with the lock. After several attempts, he shoved it on top of the soft-wood table, knocking over a salt shaker in the process.
“You know that’s bad luck right?” frustration building
Nothing from Dale, who finally managed to open the case.
“If you’re not going to talk to me then you should had stayed at home instead of wasting my - ”
“Now Mia, if I were you I’d listen very closely to what I’m about to say. I know that brother of yours didn’t kill Andrew Prince and I’m pretty sure your mama’s death weren’t no accident. And if you’re thinking about killing me to I’ve got another thing comin’ missy. If you touch a single hair on my head your story’s goin’ straight to the paper. And you’ll be goin’ the same way as your brother.” He shuts the case, leaves. The paper he left her the only evidence he was ever there.
She leaned back, warm air rushing through her lungs.
“Now, what shall we do with you?”