Jeremy invited Sarah into his apartment and closed the door behind her. He tried his best to study her and guess what could possibly have her so upset, while he walked her over to sit on the couch. He flicked a light switch and the room flashed with the warm yellow glow of the lamps on either side of the couch.
The light was brighter than he expected and it caused him to squint while his eyes adjusted. Outside, the rain continued to pour and he realized that Sarah was not just crying – she was soaked. She had just been outside, Jeremy noted, though he still hadn’t figured out why. Realizing he had left the piece of paper that was about to become his suicide note still on the coffee table, he quickly grabbed the paper and crumpled it up before throwing it at a file box next to the coffee table. The piece of paper missed and rolled toward the kitchen. He ignored it for the time being.
Jeremy sat down next to Sarah as she sobbed uncontrollably. She still hadn’t said a word since coming inside. It seemed almost as if everything was happening in slow motion for a few moments as he felt the scotch catching up to him, blurring everything. It was moments like this where he regretted drinking. He felt powerless to do anything at first, but pulled her close to him and wrapped his arms around her. She buried herself in his arms as her small frame shook.
“Sarah, it’s going to be okay,” he said. He couldn’t tell if he was slurring his words, but with her sobs he doubted it would be noticed. Her clothing was damp and cold from being out in the rain, but Jeremy continued to hug her and hold her as her weeping began to slowly subside. He held her close and rubbed her back gently in an attempt to comfort her. It was almost a sobering moment, where he could see himself in a mirror leaning against the wall by the front door. Minutes ago, he had been ready to end it all and here was someone else literally crying for help.
“Jeremy,” Sarah bawled as she tried to stifle the stream of tears. Her body shuddered in his arms and it seemed like she was starting to get herself under control. No other words came immediately.
“Come here. I’ll make us some coffee and get you some tissues,” Jeremy said as he stood up, half-lifting her with him. He’d never seen her like this and didn’t know how to react. He hoped coffee would at least counter the scotch working its way through his bloodstream, though he knew it wouldn’t.
Sarah nodded, her long blonde hair was a wet and matted mess. She swept damp strands of her hair away from her face as Jeremy guided her to a counter chair at the bar facing the kitchen. Jeremy disappeared around the corner and when he came back, he had a handful of tissues that he offered to her. She thanked him as she began to wipe her eyes. She watched as Jeremy walked around the edge of the bar counter into the kitchen and shoved aside a box so that he could get to an open one. From inside, he pulled out a coffee maker, coffee, and filter and set the items on the counter.
“Okay,” Jeremy said to himself in a low voice. “Coffee cups,” he mumbled as his eyes glanced around and his hand pointed at all the boxes on the floor of the kitchen. He tore the top open of the first box he moved and pulled two blue coffee mugs out.
Sarah glanced around as she wiped at her face. “Are… are you moving?” she asked as she looked at all of the packed boxes around the kitchen and living room.
“Uh,” he hesitated as he tried to think of a response. “No, not exactly,” was all he could manage. He fumbled for a few seconds to get the coffee maker plugged in and brewing and then turned back to her. He didn’t want to have to explain that he had packed his entire house to make it easier on the people who would have to come process his body and the scene when he killed himself and his stuff had to be cleared out. He cleared his throat and just looked at Sarah in silence.
A few minutes later, the sharp scent of coffee permeated the open spaces of the apartment. Jeremy poured a cup for Sarah and then carefully poured as much as he could into his own cup without causing it to spill. Jeremy slid the cup to Sarah and she wrapped her hands loosely around the cup but didn’t lift it. She seemed content to just have the heat of it near her.
“So…” Jeremy began in an attempt to break the silence. He took a long sip of the coffee and instantly regretted not waiting for it to cool. He made a clicking sound as he put the mug back down. Give it a few minutes, he thought to himself.
The woman in front of him stared down at the coffee mug for a long while and took a long breath before she spoke. “Andrea is missing,” she said. She continued to wipe away tears and move her long blonde hair from her face, revealing her soft features and pale blue eyes.
“Andrea? Your roommate, Andrea?” Jeremy asked in a need to clarify, his brow furrowed with concern. It was not an intelligent question and he already knew the answer. Sarah’s roommate was the only Andrea they both knew.
Jeremy thought back to the first time he met Andrea. She was singing and dancing in the laundry room with headphones on for almost a minute before she turned to realize anyone else was in the laundry room with her. She had been shaking her butt and bumping it against the edge of a washing machine as she sang off-key and folded her clean laundry. The two shared a brief fit of laughter after she turned to see Jeremy watching with a confused look on his face. Andrea passed by and stopped to introduce herself. She was an attractive and bubbly college girl who could’ve been Sarah’s sister they looked so alike. It wasn’t until several weeks after meeting both of them that Jeremy realized they weren’t actually sisters.
“Yeah,” Sarah said as she wiped tears from around her eyes with a tissue. “She’s been missing for a week now and the police won’t do anything.”
“Did she say anything to you about leaving or going anywhere? Did you file a missing person’s report?” Jeremy’s mind instantly began running scenarios, albeit slowed down by the effects of the alcohol. He knew the statistics, though, and missing persons typically showed up within the first couple of days or things got complicated.
“I’ve done all that,” Sarah said. “They say they’re looking into it but they haven’t found anything suspicious. They tried to say she may just be staying with someone else, but her phone goes right to voicemail and she would’ve told me something. Anything.”
“Okay. You know I’m not a cop anymore, right?” Jeremy said to her. It wasn’t really a question. He wanted her to know there might not be much he could do, but he didn’t want to say it aloud. He reached down and picked up the coffee mug and took a sip, testing the temperature. It was the perfect temperature now, but it tasted too bitter. He forced himself to take a long drink of the coffee, hoping it only tasted horrible because he was halfway to drunk.
“I know,” Sarah replied. “I already spoke to them and filed a report. I made a statement and someone came by our place – then, nothing. I have to go down to the police department just to talk to someone about it. I’ve been there three times now and gotten nothing.” Her hands trembled in frustration and she finally took a sip of the coffee. The face she made told Jeremy the coffee was awful.
“Yeah. Sorry, I don’t have any creamer or sugar,” he said in reaction to her expression. Jeremy was unable to think of anything else he might be able to do to help Sarah or her missing roommate beyond what the police would have already done. He knew it also depended on the person who took the report and that the odds were they half-assed it due to a heavy caseload. He wanted to help, he just had to sober up and figure out how he was going to.
“Look, I know we don’t know each other that well,” Sarah began. “Andrea isn’t close to her family and her boyfriend broke up with her two months ago. She was lonely and looking for someone. Anything you can do will be more than what the cops are doing right now.”
He nodded silently and then finished off the mug of coffee. “I can come over and look around, but I doubt they missed anything.” He went back to the coffee pot and poured himself another nearly full cup, knowing it was a mistake.
“Let’s go,” Sarah said. She put her coffee mug back on the counter and pulled Jeremy’s slowly out of his hand, also resting it on the counter. “I can change into something dry and also show you what good coffee tastes like.”
“What? Now?” Jeremy asked half-expecting, half-hoping she would leave and give him time to get his head cleared.
“Yeah, why not? You have anything else to be doing this late?” she asked sarcastically.
Jeremy snuck a look down at the crumpled piece of paper on the floor. He turned his gaze back to Sarah, who was already headed for the door. It seemed like fate had something different in store for him.
Photo by madeleine ragsdale on Unsplash