The Dearborns Aren’t Home
They came bearing flowers in their arms: hyacinth, lilies, hellebores, winter narcissus, bouquets of roses in varying hues, poinsettia plants with pink and green leaves. They came as families, they came singly, they came in pairs of twos and threes. They carried handmade cards with stick figure families drawn on them. They brought chain-link garlands made from strips of colored construction paper and decorated with prayers. May God watch over you and keep you. They carried candles, flashlights, and electric lanterns as a light against the night. They brought freshly baked cookies, cast-off children’s toys, photographs and imitation wedding cakes like the kind that Meg Dearborn used to make. They brought angels and sparkly stars taken from the tops of their Christmas trees. They carried their gifts through the blocks and streets to lay them down at the front door of the Dearborn’s house, the family of four found in their basement five days after Christmas, bound at their hands and feet and with their throats slashed.
Jessica King hadn’t thought to bring anything to lie down at the Dearborn’s door, not flowers or cards or candy. She carried her baby and herself and that was all that she could manage. The vigil was supposed to start at seven. It was a struggle just to get the baby strapped into the baby carrier by herself. Bryant didn’t get home from work until seven-thirty, sometimes eight, and Jessica always had a hard time getting the baby ready to go out by herself. The baby screamed and kicked her legs. The straps of the baby carrier kept slipping off Jessica’s shoulders as she tried to fit the baby into the pouch-like contraption. For a terrifying moment, Jessica thought she was going to drop the baby on its head. Ever since the baby was born, Jessica experienced waves of terror like this at least once a day. Every time she picked up the baby, she felt a strange sense of slipping, that the baby could fall at any moment, that she could drop her, that she could lose her, that she could hurt her somehow and it would all be her fault. By the time she was finished strapping the baby in, Jessica’s hands were shaking so badly she thought she might need to sit down.
But she needed to get up. She needed to pull on her gloves, to turn off the lights, to lock the front door, to walk the six blocks, maybe seven, to the Dearborn’s house for the vigil. She needed to be there, to stand at the scene of the crime, to look upon the house where it happened and have it look back at her.