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Hide-and-seek in the Blue House

It was nice morning and the Sun was shining at its best. I dragged the green bathrobe around my bed warm body, shaped a bun out of my hair and made my way in kitchen to brood some coffee for my foggy thinking. The day has no beginning without the morning coffee I always knew.

After putting the kettle on the stove I allowed myself the luxury of enjoying the serene sea view from my window. It had a nice frame made of willows that shook their branches right outside my white window. They had lost most of their leafs, but that didn’t seem to bother me at that point- it was still beautiful.

I heard the water boiling, so I stretched my hand out to get the coffee can from the white shelf. I could feel how life force started coming back in me after few zips of that drink of ecstasy and as usually that also brought an appetite for a bit more solid food, so I pushed the pan on the stove and opened the cupboard under it, took some bread from there without looking and traveled over the floor to also gather some tomatoes and cucumbers. I loved bread with cucumbers, especially when I had made the bread myself yesterday.

I had already finished the breakfast and was about to put the bread back in the cupboard when I suddenly heard an alarming snuggling voice from the same place. I waited for a second to think through all the options of things and animals I might come across when opening the doors, but decided there was no point of pushing it more in the future, opened the doors in one quick move and… screamed as lowed and hard as my lungs allowed.

There was Mathew, his fierce curls shining in all autumn colours, blinking his two huge green eyes.

„Hush! Close that mouth of yours already!” he hissed and dragged the doors closed again.

I fell on the stool next to the table, stunned by that remarkable site. I sat there till I smelled something burning and rushed to save the pan from the stove. I emptied it on the yellow plate.

„Wait!” it suddenly came to me – what on earth was an almost thirty year old man doing in my tiny kitchen case? I pulled the doors open once more.

„Mathew! What are you doing here?” I tried to sound angry when kneeling in front of him.

„Shut up! Girls at your age should already know how to keep quiet!” he growled and tried to close the doors, but I didn’t let him.

„If you don’t come up with a bloody good excuse for being here right now, I swear…” I shouted halfheartedly, but still angry to find him there.

“I’m hiding! Doesn’t it look that way?” he bristled at me and pinced my leg so hard I had to pull it away and the doors fell shut.

I rose without word, smoothing the skin that got hurt. I didn’t bother playing on with the doors, but asked loud so he could hear me through the doors as well. “And why are you hiding in there?”

“Mh?” He couldn’t make out my question well through the white oak, so I repeated it and added on soft voice: “Chastity threw you out or what?”

“Mh? What? No, nothing like that! We’re playing hide-and-seek!” he protested.

I was already shaping my lips to acknowledge him and say “Aaa!” and sincerely laugh, but shut a moment later, appalled by the answer. “Come again?”

“I’m playing hide-and-seek. ”

I thought long and hard about what to answer or ask, because his words gave me shivers. I pulled the doors open one last time and asked as loudly as I could to maintain the angry sound: “And that is why you are hiding here, in my house, in my kitchen case?”

“Well… daaah!”

“Lord, help me…” I sighed and squat down. “Please be so kind and explain me now, from the beginning, why would an almost seven feet tall man try to jam in in my only three feet tall cupboard?” I consciously left out the age as after today I wasn’t sure myself if a man in his late twenties is adult enough to understand the contradiction he created.

“Because we are playing hide-and-seek!” he repeated, hurt now like a little child who’s world view you are not even trying to accept.

“You already told me that, yes.”

“So?”

“But why in my kitchen case?”

“Because the rules say so!”

I knew we didn’t get far with such pace. “Oh, the rules say so?”

“Yes…” he drawled, not liking what my voice sounded like.

I on the other hand did like how it sound and after stretching myself I announced with fat voice: “If only rules say so, then get out of my closet, now!”

“WHAT? You can’t do that! NO, NO and one more simple no!” he jammed in the walls of the cupboard even more than I thought possible – there was no way to get him out there now.

“Why?” I demanded.

“‘Cause if Bertram gets my shiny ass before lunch, he’ll smack me with the knout!”
The situation just got my flavor all over it. I cocked my ears and took a seat on the stool.

“I’m listening!”

” You do know the basics of the game, don’t you? You seek yourself a good hiding place and sit there till time set in the beginning.” He sounded too excited for my pleasure.

I had to scratch the back of my head, where the scalp starts – did I speak with a grown-up or a child? “Or else the it will knout you?”

“Exactly!”

“Okay.. And you are in my closet, because…?”

“Because today we’re hiding in your house!” he sounded as innocent as a kitten.

My heart skipped few beats – all of them? In my house? “And you’re doing it, because…?”

“Not following.”

“Why are you doing it in my house?”

“‘Cause the cast set on your house?”

“Cast?” I must of looked very discouraging, because he held back for a second to rethink his next answer.

“Well, so we wouldn’t have to die in boredom, we cast loges, in which house we hide and then we… hide! And then comes meany Berty and smacks anyone he can lay his hands on, with the knout!”

It was freaky to see how his eyes started glowing when he spoke about it. Not to add up with his little play I made myself as indifferent as I could manage and asked slowly: “Am I only one, who doesn’t know about your hide-and-seek?”

“Nope!”

“Really?” I could smack myself for the joy I felt – for once I wasn’t the only fool, who wasn’t oblivion about what went around. “Who else don’t know?”

“Addam.” The answer was so brief I thought I heard it wrong.

“Addam?” After curtain happenings I thought Addam knew everything that went on on the island. Thank God I hadn’t put money on it.

“He did come up with the idea,” he explained, “but he doesn’t know we still play it.” He shrugged.

“I’m not sure I understand you…”

“Well, he offered –that’s three years now? – on one very stormy night that we could play hide-and-seek and so we did. And he said, that to make it more interesting, we could do it in different houses and then we did and then Bertram posted that he will not hide in anywhere or anything and then Addam made this knout out of the handkerchief and said that he can be the Knout and that he can smack anyone he can find, but he does it always with such power and it’s painful and so…” he stopped his recall for a moment like he’d heard something, but as nothing followed, he continued: “Addam doesn’t know we still play it when we get bored.”

“How’s that?” I pushed another piece of bread in my mouth – the hunger won over the exciting story.

“We leave his house out from the casting.”

“How lovely!” I announced ironically and closed the doors for him. I took the palte from the table and took it to the sink, where I washed it and was about to dry my hands, when I heard him again snuggling in better position. “How long will you stay there?” I asked.

“Till midday?”

I looked at the clock, it was only minutes after nine.

Then suddenly we heard yelling from the stairs and footsteps as a pack of elephants had found the way in – I had to jump after my lovely yellow vase with dandelions to keep it from shaking.

“Don’t even think about it!” that voice definitely belonged to Bertram. “We are on an island if you haven’t forgotten!! I will get you eventually!”

I suited myself better against the cupboard, showed the hands crossed over my chest and waited him to get to me with his knout.

I didn’t have to wait long, after a minute or so the kitchen door flew open and panting Bertram, in his wonderful new green suit with red flowers stitched on, landed in. It took me one look in his blood thirsty eyes to pull away from his way and jerked downwards the kitchen case.

“Ahaa!” he yelled like a pirate and hit the knout in motion. “Come out, ya punk! Come to daddy!”

The doors of the cupboard opened fast and Mathew, faster then wind, stumbled out, around my table and tried to run away, screaming, begging for mercy, but was rewarded with a smack on his ass.

“Hey, that hurt!” Mathew protested, but was running the next moment for his life.

“Come to daddy and get your candy!” Bertram didn’t give in and I stretched out to catch my white lamp that seemed to be in danger of being knouted off the sealing, but the moment Mathew went, the knout found peace on Bertram’s hands too.

Before going he turned to me and, after a quick look around, smiled openly. He grabbed for my hand, bowed slightly and kissed it.

“Thank you!” and he was gone.

I waited till the sounds disappeared in distance and made my way up the stairs to change my clothing.

“Shoot! What if Mathew wasn’t the last one?” Just in case I made sure to look in the wardrobe too. And bathroom. And all other places that could or could not fit a man in them. To think – all this punch, in my house!

 

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I’ll make some tea

Exercise on beginnings.

 

The weather was so damp of heat it filled my lungs with water. I could feel it bubbling in my lungs and it made me cough.

Typical of me – to catch a cough at midsummer. Maddy looked at me with concerne, but I explained I swallowed a fly. They didn’t have to know the cough hadn’t left me since I had pneumonia in February. It always brings up the ugly topic of returning to doctors, who think it’s psychological rather than physical.

I kept reading my book, knowingly flipping the pages. Perhaps too often, but my mood was ruined. The crickets kept singing and the wheezing sensation in my lungs grew. I knew I had to go inside as soon as possible or I’ll be coughing the whole upcoming week.

“I’ll make some tea,” I searched for an excuse, “you want one?”

“Darling, it’s 37 degrees out here! Who would want hot tea?”

I was already up from my bolstered pillows, eager to leave.

“I would,” I said, “just felt like having one. Black, with lemon.” I sensed cough come up, but forced it down. “And a tint of sugar while I’m at it.”

She laughed like the wind we were missing so much, soft and clear. “In that case, darling, make me a cup, too.”

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Phobia

We all have something in our past we are reluctant of coming public. I wish it was something embarrassing that I could simply get embarrassed with and get it over with. Unfortunately, I liked being special and being the only possible child for another very special person, I just loathed publicity.

“I thought you told them you’re searching your father?” Mykola innocence didn’t save him this time.

Saul-Erik asked something.  He was loosing his patience, asking this what felt like sixth time, but I wasn’t paying him much attention. I was busy beheading Mykola with my eyes.

Drops were forming over my hair, I could feel my hair greasing up. Or was it sweat? My throat was dry and my muscles suddenly ached from all the running yesterday.

Suddenly I felt Saul’s fingers close around my elbow and it was jerked from under me, forcing me to look at him.

“You are Huntsman’s daughter?”

I still didn’t see his eyes, only the gritting teeth and tense jaw muscles.

Oh great, I was near finding my beloved daddy and now this!

“Are you Huntsman’ daughter?”

He shook me violently, pressing me off my chair and forcing to look up. I didn’t like what I saw – his entire face had turned into grimace and for the first time in my entire life I actually felt the threat, the need to get away and hide as if being caught up by a grisly bear.

“Don’t you dear faint on me!” his yelling brushed over my hair and I felt the heat from his slap mix with pain. “Answer me!”

“Yes! I am Huntsman’s daughter!” I screamed, pulling myself away from his arm, but it didn’t happen. He was out of this world and everything I had imagined him do, this was worse. I never imagined him hit me. Get angry, turn away, but no hitting.

Suddenly he let me go and I fell away from his reach. I immediately thrust myself further away and hit against the wall. This wasn’t far enough, but it was furthest from anybody else in the living room.

His slap worked its way to my brain and the light throbbing from the red mark changed into headache. I wanted to cry.

This was why I didn’t want to tell them before I could reach my goal. Before I could finish the terror my father brought and make them understand I wasn’t the same. I am not my father, I don’t kill for pleasure!

I had to get Mykola away from here. If he says I have already taken a life, they would never believe I was different.

With that I gasped and I wanted to beg. In my entire life I had never had to beg, but tonight I was willing to do it, beg for Saul’s forgiveness and make them see that I wasn’t same with my father!

But if I even made a sound, he would have simply tossed me out on the street and I knew it. It didn’t matter right now that I had helped Rasmus or Malek or Harry. They were sitting there behind their round table and gagged by Mykola just as much as Saul was.

It was better to leave myself, I decided and dragged myself up from the corner, eyeing my chance as Saul had left in the bedroom.

I froze on the second step, Mykola standing on my way.

“That’s what happens if you hold back information, darling!” he whispered and grinned.

“Like you were much better!”

I only felt the wind as Saul pushed himself between us and pressed me back to the corner. “You knew and said nothing to me! That is hardly honesty!”

“Saul –“ I started, but he responded without looking at me.

“Get out. I will have no-one related with that monster in my house!”

“Yes sir.”

I didn’t even know why I had said it, but I used the moment and ran back to my house, out of their way and hid myself under my own rusty bed. I should have run further, but I reacted by hiding myself under my bed like I did whenever they showed my father on TV. Back then I waited friends to call and mock me for it, realizing I was his daughter. Tonight I was hiding for my life and that only because I was his daughter.

Six hours later I didn’t hear anything from their house anymore, but I didn’t come out either. The floor was cold and the wall molted, reeking of wetted wallpaper and old newspapers that I saw under it.

Suddenly I heard footsteps on the stairs. They were heavy, wearing big boots and I knew it was Rasmus, because no one else had such boots around here. The kind that clings every time the chains brush against the buckles.

I pressed myself further away. I knew I should have pulled the blanket lower to hide myself better from being seen from the door, but it was too late. He had already reached the door and the door handle creaked.

The door opened and he looked in.

“Evelyn?”

I held my breath. My shoulder was in the light and I instinctively pulled it in the shadow.

He was about to close the door, when he probably heard my movement, because he reached his head out one more time and eyed lower.

He held his breath for a moment and I knew he had seen me, but instead of coming straight after me, he simply sighed and closed the door and left.

I panicked. I wanted to leave, but I could still hear him on the stairs, so instead I crawled up against the most darkest place  I could manage and I begged God to forgive me the killing in Sandlewoods, for trusting Mykola and for any misleading action I had ever taken, as long as he would keep me from their revenge. Moment later I cursed him for letting me be born, because this faith, I assumed, had to be punishment for doing something very bad in my youth. Or my mom doing something wrong, but there was only one thing my daddy was and that was our punishment.

I saw daylight sneaking in from the curtains. No one came, but I was sure they were just outside, waiting me to walk to them, spreading this news to everybody. My dad had killed nine of them – there couldn’t be a family out there, who wasn’t related to them one way or the other.

They could just torch the house? I was allergic to the mold, I was reminded by it when the tears mixed with the dust and it burned my cheeks, but why bother with cream if all they had to do is fire my house up?

I hit my fist against the wooden base, then again and again.

Right then I heard the door open again and it was enough to make my heart jump. I pushed myself back against the molted wall and held my breath.

I didn’t know the man, who entered, but he didn’t seem angry. Instead he seemed relaxed, looking around, getting acquainted with my papers on the nightstand.

Something cluck in his jacket pocket. He sat down on the bed and I heard it come out of his pocket right before he put it on the floor and tossed it to me.

“Here,” the low voice said, “Saul said he’s sorry.”

I looked at the bottle that had hit my elbow.

It was the one unmarked blue plastic water bottles Saul used to carry with him. The one that no one else was allowed to touch. The ones that had painkillers added to the water

He waited and I waited. I still didn’t say a word, didn’t even breath properly.

After ten minutes he had enough and he rose. “Anyway, Saul wants to see you when you get over this childish hiding game. Bye!”

“Childish?!?”

I was out from under the bed and up before I understood he tricked me.

“See? That wasn’t that hard now, was it? Oooh!”

What ooh, I frowned.

“Perhaps shower first, then Saul.” He suggested chuckling and nodded towards the bed. “Unfortunately you need to climb after the bottle yourself,” he looked at me again, “but you already know the way I guess?”

He burst laughing and went, leaving me standing there like fish – gutted, molded and dehydrated.

But while I was there, contemplating my own death, I realized that it wasn’t gonna be that easy with my neighbors. Especially if Saul had the mentality to first cure his victims and then torture them again.

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Browning, not Browner!

I was eight, when my father walked out on us. I can only remember the shape of his face and unshaved beard that touched my face when he kissed me in the middle of the night. Mom can’t remember even that. He never said good bye to her.

My friends know it and they pitied me. Their parents wanted them to be considerate, so they never asked, why my father wasn’t around, but I knew from their dirt grey eyes that they knew. That was the life in our town – no one was left untouched by the ratchets of gossip, even children, who got all they needed to know from their parents. But I was lucky and pretty, made friends easily and they stayed, because we had big TV and free cable television.

On that fateful September night we had just branched out in our fully lit living room and dug out our study books, when Maybre turned the TV on. She searched through the channel with her usual rushed movements until she stopped on the news.

I never watched the news. They were horrible mix of death and despair and as I child I only wanted happy memories. It wasn’t because I was touched by the horror, but I simply chose not to take part of it. I had my broken heart. I didn’t need to add to the burden that would rip the wound farther.

She turned the volume on and one by one we all looked at the TV.

“I can’t believe someone could do that to a woman!” Hallee whispered from the sofa.

The news anchor was describing a murderer, who used needle work on the victim. I wasn’t listening her, but I remember seeing the bright image in my head of a lady sitting on a chair, head sagged on the back. Her legs were tied together and pulled together like piece of meat ready to be pushed into the oven.

I shrugged the image off.

“How many victims does he already have?” Maybre asked no one particularly, but she did look straight at me.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged, “I haven’t watched this.”

“You should!”

I was speechless. Why?

“Until they get that bastard you and us – we’re all in danger!”

“Don’t be silly, May! The killings take place in Tolsveren!”

“This one didn’t!”

We weren’t convinced. She did like drama and add to her truths. Hallee rolled her bright smart eyes and turned back to her homework as did I.

Maybre looked so distraught I couldn’t help but ask: “Then where, May?”

“In Montfort!”

“That’s still far enough,” responded Hallee and we left her sulking, delving in our books.

“Just imagine he could be someone from our city!”

“May! Montfort is hundreds of miles away!”

“Still, imagine if he was my father or your father or…” She pointed to Hallee and then turned her finger at me, frozen on spot. “Or your father!”

I probably grew gray hair right there. They did look dull after that fall.

It was outrageous, but all I could do at that point was to stare at her. I couldn’t even manage a smile.

“Uu!” she wheeled suddenly and shook herself so hard all her brown hair flew around, reminding me of jelly fish in deep-sea. “I wouldn’t wanna know you then!”

My heart sank. “What?”

“You don’t know who your father is – you might be daughter of that serial killer!”

Hallee shouted her name, deafening me for a moment.

“Oh come on, Hal! The murders started after her father left and she did receive a birthday card from Tolsveren only weeks before the first victim was found!”

“I should be afraid how much you know about that killer!” Hallee murmured, amazed by her facts.

When on Earth did she already connect me with that monster?

“They did say that he loves to use hunting rifle!”

“And this relates with me, how?”

“Because your daddy was in Hunters Society with my dad and he told me he took it with him!”

“And you can give the mold num…” Hallee mused.

“Probably semiautomatic Browner!”

“I’ll be damned…” I started, but Hallee burst laughing.

“It’s Browning!” she corrected Maybre

“What?”

“Browner does not exist, darling!”

“Yes it does!”

“In your dreams! Your dad may be master hunter, but he is obviously lousy on gun models!”

“HE IS NOT!”

With this they continued on different route and I was forgotten with my probable ancestry. But I sat on, frozen on my chair and staring at the screen behind Maybre. The newswoman had already moved on to some petty political argument, but I couldn’t get May’s logic out of my head. As long fetched as it sounded – what if she was right?

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Write minute a day

13.11

 First fell a mushroom, then a cup. Moment later we heard a bang and all the silver and chandeliers rattled.

“Oh!” my grandmother cheerfully set down her plate with cake. “That’s my neighbor! He weights a ton! I think he’s had a heart attack – how lovely! Perhaps I can have the flat?”

14.11

 The UFO puffed and huffed, covered everything in coal dust before landing six feet away behind our dear dead-and-still-a-Mayor’s mausoleum. It should have exploded, now that would be a drama!

I stared after that smoking monstrosity and split my lips into thin line.

We didn’t like changes around here – I didn’t like changes! We even had only one Mayor and he was kept a mayor after his death, because no one could imagine going through that much of a mess in that short of time!

How dared those… those… whoever they were! How dared they come and destroy our perfectly preserved routine!

Others began gathering around. Yes, this was a drama, but imagine us having children – now THAT’s a drama! First you grew bigger for nine months and there was just no time to getting used to it and by the time you accepted so many changes, you got a screaming bundle of six feet that just wouldn’t stop making a mess! And that if you only had ONE kid! Imagine you got two! Then you’d have twelve feet tossing around – if they’d move any faster it would create a halo around your head!

Oh, this was indeed not a good sign!

22.11

 Martin scratched his hairline. He had just pulled his deep fridge open and was now staring at his electronic car keys frozen in a plastic box with plenty of water.

“What is my car keys doing in the fridge?” He frowned.

He remember the party had lasted till early hours and most of them were out by five, but he didn’t remember anyone doing this.

His flat mate was however remembered perfectly well and while crunching in his roast, mumbled: “You said – this’ gonna really confuse me tomorrow.” He swallowed the dry bread and took a sip of coffee. “Apparently drunk you plays pranks on hangover you.”

Martin winched, but took out his block of solid ice.

“Next time, tell my drunk me that such pranks cost too much.” After giving it some thought he tossed the brick back in the fridge.

“What happened?”

“You started keeping count of only every even numbered drink you had.” He finished his bread. “Oh, which reminds me – someone switched your cash for Monopoly money after midnight so you couldn’t get any more drinks at the bar.”

“How kind of them.”

“Don’t worry! If it was Cindy, she’ll at least give it back. If it was Mary you’ll never see it again.”

24.11

 James Madrid Francisco III was up late in the night in the dormitory in his private high school, when he noticed something odd, when returning from the wash room around midnight. It was twinkle of light, but so odd and wrongly placed, that he felt the need to go and check it over.

He didn’t bother dressing up and only pulled his rain coat over his blue striped pajamas and hid his feet in pair of shoes before sneaking out of the house and heading straight to the old chapel in the middle of the massive green lawn, the pride of the entire school.

There was someone there, lurking around and if there was anything he tolerated less, was some peasant growling in at the late hours to paint some graffiti over their property. And it was his property.

He was not prepared to find instead a young lady, dressed in jeans and light jacket, holding high dusty candleholder and sticking her nose close to one of the old murals decorating the chapel. She had climbed higher to get a closer look.

“I hope you don’t fall, milady?”

That was enough to cause her lose her footing, but she gained it fast, only loosing her candles.

“You startled me!”

“What are you looking for? Here, at such ghastly hour?”

“A painting, nothing more. This particular one here – see? It’s from sixteenth century, yet I know one with the same lady in another chapel that’s century older!”

Her enthusiasm was remarkable. So were the bright white hair that rolled around her neck, when she spoke and so unladylike tossed her hands around. She wasn’t local, definitely not from his class and what more – she wasn’t here to paint some graffiti.

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Capturing body language

“The noise of the plain was unbearable when it turned its nose towards Washington. Mathew had never liked flying and today was no exception. He usually crunched somewhere in front seats and prayed his way through it. But he still hated the sound, that painstakingly shallow hauling that raked havoc in his head, pulling extra lines in his already frowning forehead.

Today it was worse, he had landed too close to the engines and it made his fingers clung in fists. The heavy vibration only added to the agony, when it run through the seats and through his fist, turning his skin into unpleasant wobbly waves. He pulled his hands away, sickened by the feeling and pushed them under his arms, fixing them so they couldn’t perform this repelling dance anymore.

He immediately looked up, searching if anyone had noticed his unpleasant reaction; no one hadn’t even raised their heads.

Except one bored young lady, who was staring right at him. He frowned in resentment, but she simply turned her eyes away and yawned. Just as fast his eyebrows fell, they shoot back up.

Her fingers began drumming on the plastic table and her eyes kept looking around in haze. Suddenly they stopped. Her fingers crawled forward and quietly, but defiantly dig into the front seat.

An older man, startled by the sudden finger in his seat, pushed up and searched the sudden motion from the behind, before frowning harsh – receiving only innocent smile and questioning eyes – turned back.

Moment later the finger landed back in the foam and disappeared almost completely in it. Then it froze together with the rest of the lady and waited what the front seat man would do. Nothing followed, so her face lightened up. He swore he saw little red horns grow through her blond locks. She sure grew tiny tip of tongue from the corner of her lips and constantly checking the old man, she sweetened her lips and dug deeper with the one finger.

After about ten minutes of digging, she thrust her other finger in it and searched around under the fabric, frowning on her own. She then pulled the fingers out and revealed small capsule between her green nails. It wasn’t big, only an inch long.

She looked puzzled, too surprised to be the one, who put it in there.
“Open it!” he shouted in his head. “Show what’s inside!” His hands fell and he dig fingers in his knees to stop himself from marching over. But he wanted to go over and see the thing between her fingers. His heart started pounding and he grabbed his chest, trying to ease it.

She did open it at last. It made barely audible popping sound and revealed an SD card in it.

She stared at it for a moment before shooting her eyes up and taking quick look around. Her eyes stopped in his. He felt hot and thought he lost all the color from his face, when she suddenly broke off the eye contact, jumped up from her seat and came right over.

“Do you have a laptop, sir?”
He stared at her with wide eyes and before his brain managed to form proper, thought through response, he heard his lips mumble: “No, but  I have a camera – SD will fit right in it.”

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