There were two of them. She was washing the dishes when they came. She couldn’t see them. The strangers were two shadows with the sun behind their backs. One of them said, ‘Open up, ma’am. Police.’ She glanced at the clock and sighed. They were not her husband.
She left the security door locked. She said, ‘What can I do for you?’ ‘Do you mind if we come in? It’s about your husband. We need to speak to you about your husband.’ ‘It’s a scorcher out here,’ the other one said. He pushed his badge against the metal mesh of the door. With his other hand he wiped his forehead. ‘We won’t be long.’
She opened the door. How right he is, she thought. It is very hot. She looked up at the cloudless sky. She thought, It should have rained today. They said there would be showers, the draught would be over, the farmers would be happy, now, it might never rain again. She told them to come in.
They introduced themselves. She offered them a seat and they sat on the large sofa below the window that overlooked the garden. ‘You must be tired. Would you like some lemonade, or a beer?’ She studied their faces. The one on the left was young, handsome, could have just graduated. He said, ‘I could go for a beer.’ The other one said, ‘Glass of water would be just fine, thanks. He’ll have the water too.’ He was older, late thirties. A senior sergeant, she remembered. She went to the kitchen and poured it from the tap. The glasses were hot against her hands. When she walked back she felt the young one’s eyes on her breasts. She smiled.
The men gulped their water, the sergeant began to talk, he talked slowly and surely, the young one didn’t say anything but observed. She thought, He’s writing little notes in his mind, they will do this again and again and maybe one day he will be the one doing the talking. The sergeant put the glass down onto the table. He asked her if she understood. She nodded. She’d been nodding for a while and her head had become heavy. She looked out the window, behind the strangers, where bees flew from the flowers to their hive, the cicadas chirped, and there were more butterflies than she could remember. Now that everything went quiet, nothing would ever be the same again.
‘I’ll get us coffee,’ she said. She got some biscuits out from the pantry. The men ate and drank and she ate and drank with them. They spoke about their jobs. The young one said he was new to the force and had just got married. She congratulated him. The sergeant said, ‘He’s gotta be more careful now,’ he turned to his partner and laughed. ‘Haven’t you? No more running around pretending to be a superman. You’ve got a family to take care of.’ They laughed. The young man looked at the woman. His eyes were playful as he stared at her. ‘Marriage is a sacred, bitter thing,’ she said.
She got them some more coffee. They got up just before six. The young man reached in to hug her but she moved back and the men left. She listened to their car as it moved off the driveway. She thought she could hear them laughing. She ate the remaining biscuits and waited for her husband to come home.
Benjamin Imamovic was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. When he was three his family escaped the Balkan war and he lived in Moscow for seven years before moving to Perth, Western Australia. He is currently studying Professional Writing at Curtin University.To get in touch, visit his Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=534573024.
2 thoughts on “The Strangers by Benjamin Imamovic”
I like that you leave it to the reader to figure out what was being said. The world you’ve created here is heavy and bleak.
Beautifully written, Benjamin.
Thanks Jodi, really appreciate your comments.