Chapter no 66

The Teacher


IT’S another pair of Eve’s pumps. Right in the middle of our kitchen.

These shoes are a brilliant blue color. I recognize them as one of her favorite pairs. And the soles are caked with dirt.

I feel utterly nauseated. What are Eve’s shoes doing in the middle of the kitchen? The pumps in the shower were odd, but my wife does odd things all the time. But this is different. I was in the kitchen earlier, cooking a continental breakfast. If these shoes had been there, I surely would have seen them.

Wouldn’t I?

“These your wife’s shoes?” Sprague asks me. “Yes,” I manage.

She crouches down beside the shoes while I try to temper my panic. “These are expensive shoes,” she says. “I’m surprised she would take them out and get them so dirty.”

“I… I don’t know what to say.”

I hold my breath, waiting for another question I can’t answer, but thankfully, the detective seems to lose interest in the shoes. I take her around the rest of the house, but I can’t stop thinking about those shoes in the kitchen. I can barely focus on what’s going on in front of me, and every time the detective asks me a question, I’m sure I seem flustered and terribly guilty.

But I can’t help it. What the hell are those shoes doing in my kitchen?

When I finally get the detective out the door, I lock it behind her and nearly trip over myself in my haste to get back to the kitchen. When I get there, I realize that the back door has been left slightly ajar, and a bird has flown in through the opening. The bird—small with black and white feathers—is now pecking furiously at the heels of Eve’s shoes.

I stare at the scene before me in astonishment. I’ve left the back door open in the past, and a wayward bird has never before managed to find its way into our kitchen. I fetch a broom from the closet, and I swat at the bird until it obliges and flies out the back door.

Now that the bird is gone, I crouch down beside the shoes, trying to sort out why a bird would have any interest in a pair of suede pumps. After all, birds aren’t interested in dirt. They want food.

And that’s when I see it:

A piece of smashed pumpkin on the heel of the shoe.

My legs give way under me, my tailbone landing hard on the kitchen floor. My head is spinning, and my vision has tunneled. I could have tried to convince myself that the shoes have been lying here all along and I simply never noticed them. And the detective made a point—Eve was meticulous about keeping her pumps in perfect condition, and she would never, ever let them get muddy this way. But perhaps she got stuck in the rain and it simply couldn’t be helped. I could have tried to convince myself of all that.

But the pumpkin. How did a piece of smashed pumpkin get on the bottom of my wife’s shoe?

Even if Eve had been wearing shoes when we buried her, which she wasn’t, it’s very clear she didn’t rise from her grave and walk back home with a piece of pumpkin wedged on her heel. That means that somebody else placed the shoes in the middle of my kitchen, so that I would see them and panic.

And it would have to be someone who knows what we did last night.

Could Addie have done this? It seems unlikely she would be capable of such a thing, and yet I did abandon her in the middle of nowhere last night. Perhaps this is her childish retribution. Although it doesn’t seem like her style. Addie is an impulsive teenager, and the idea that she would sneak into my house and plant a pair of Eve’s shoes on my kitchen floor seems preposterous to me.

There’s another possibility.

I am painfully aware that in the last few years, I have not been able to fulfill my wife’s sexual appetites. And of course, the thought occurred to me that she had taken a lover to fill in the gap. The old Eve—the one I fell in love with—would never contemplate such a thing, but I believe the woman I was married to would be capable of it.

So if she was having an affair with another man, is it possible she could have confided in him? And he somehow discovered what we did to her and now hopes to seek vigilante revenge?

Any of these possibilities leaves me incredibly uneasy.

I pick the pumps off the floor and wash the heels under the steaming hot water from the sink. One thing is clear: whoever left these shoes in my kitchen hopes to frighten me, and yet they are reluctant to involve the police. If somebody had incriminating information about me, that detective would have snapped a pair of cuffs on my wrists before the lies left my lips.

No, I am certain I have the upper hand. As long as I am careful, nobody will find out what I have done.

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