Arthur couldn’t take his eyes off Beatrice. He knew they had not been kind, but this was beyond anything he imagined. Her nightgown clung to her body, and lines of her bones jutted through it; her hair was stringy and matted, but what startled Arthur the most was the pure fury and hatred her eyes flung at him.
Surprisingly, it reminded him of their first official meeting. He had been watching her diligently for weeks and had learned the depth of her routine, which she broke for nothing. His job was to make himself a part of it. He started by casually passing her in the dairy aisle, where he would grab milk and cream cheese, and she would pass on the left to get plain yogurt. Then, he began to go to the movies every Saturday, but to the showing after Beatrice’s so they crossed paths. It was at the cinema, he made his move on Beatrice. As he entered, Beatrice exited focused on her quiet, isolation. She made it almost too easy for Arthur to trip into her, popcorn flying above them and coke splattering her face and blouse. Looked up and actually saw Arthur for the first time, Arthur thought she would kill him then and there. Her fury took several weeks to dissipate, lessening each week as they attended the same film, Arthur prepared with a small popcorn and drink, which he handed her, following her into the theatre,and sitting a few seats away. Eventually, they would sit together.
Arthur’s memory rapidly shut as Janelle’s snickering returned his thoughts to the present. Janelle. Janelle, Gerald Jr. and Gerald Sr. Why hadn’t Arthur been able to see it before? They could simply not let a member of their family escape. Beatrice had to be one of them and by making her hate him, they just might be able to not only have her with them, but also be a willing participant of their destructive path.
Beatrice glared at him, then back to Janelle. She didn’t know who she wanted to scream at first, or what she needed to ask them. Ultimately, she decided to ignore Arthur; he didn’t even deserve her hate. To her, he would no longer exist.
“Janelle,” Beatrice said anger seeping through every utterance, “Why do I blip? WHY can’t I remember? WHY can’t I hear or see or even think about certain things?”
Janelle began, “Birdie, there are reasons, but I have never been told why, or even how. All I know” she shrugged, “is that he knows.” Casually gesturing to Arthur, Janelle’s grin flickered between amusement and anger.
“As I said, we used these blips to our benefit, but unfortunately, we are not totally immune. Arthur, has been most uncooperative and only agreed to disclose the information upon seeing you.”
“Those weren’t the only terms,” he quietly interjected; turning to Beatrice with an unfamiliar look in his eyes, “You get to know, too.