14 - Revelation

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Nat didn't want to read more, but she found herself clicking through links with an almost obsessive need for understanding, a kind of sick fascination that drove her forward even as her stomach twisted with unease. Her tea, over-brewed and forgotten, grew cold as she continued to click through the stories.

There was pitifully little information — just the same facts, restated, regurgitated, worked over by news outlets. Carbon copies of stories that left so many gaps in the narrative. But slowly, story by story, Nat could begin to piece together a full story. 

Anthony Rivera had been, by all accounts, a stand-up guy, well-liked by his neighbors and coworkers. He had a job in network security and had been married to his high school sweetheart for 15 years. His LinkedIn profile showed the job history of a man with quiet ambition, slowly working his way up in rank and pay through a series of jobs in his field, moving occasionally from one company to another but rarely venturing too far from his habits. 

His wife, Suzanne, had a smaller online footprint. She did not seem to work, or if she did, she did not make much fuss about it. But she was active on social media, with accounts in all the usual places, and she seemed happy by all outward appearances. 

And then, one day, Anthony Rivera came home from work and shot his wife and daughter with a 12-gauge shotgun before turning the weapon on himself. 

The news stories did not say much more than this. Nat was left with only her imagination to fill in the grisly details, and it did so, over and over, coming up with more and more scenarios.

One question answered: Why they had not been paying their storage unit rent.

But many others left unanswered: Why had they kept those items in storage int he first place? Why had this crime been committed? Had Suzanne known? Had she been planning to leave him? Were the items in storage a precursor to divorce? Or had it blindsided her completely? Had there ever been a motive at all? Or was it some random act of violence without explanation or understanding? 

Nat imagined them, the happy family, preparing for a move — a fresh beginning, maybe, a new opportunity — boxing their belongings. And then, just before dinner time, all hope and life snuffed out like a candle.  

She imagined the suddenness, the abrupt horror. The news stories did not say, but maybe Suzanne had been making dinner at the time; perhaps she had turned around for a kiss and been met instead with the muzzle of a shotgun in her face, allowing just a fleeting moment for the surprise and horror to register in her eyes before he pulled the trigger. 

Or maybe he had come home late that day. Maybe Suzanne had been sitting up for hours, fearing the worst -- some affair, or some awful accident -- without knowing what the worst would really be. Maybe she had stood up in a darkened living room when she heard the door open, had run to him in relief only to feel an awful sear of pain as a gunshot rang out through the house. 

Or, Nat thought, perhaps Suzanne had been asleep. Maybe Anthony had crept silently into their bedroom and held a pillow over his wife's face, pressing the barrel of the shotgun against it. Maybe he had extinguished his wife in a flurry of feathers, a pillow blown apart and swiftly turning crimson, before heading down the hall to do the same to their daughter. 

Shuddering with a sudden chill, she shut the laptop and pulled her now-cold mug of tea toward her, hugging it to her chest. 

She did not want to read more, did not want to know more about this family and their terrible end. But, at the same time, something unfurled in her chest; some intense need to know the rest of the details, to fill in the gaps. She felt that, until she knew exactly what had happened, she would not be able to stop obsessing over it. 

She pulled the laptop close again and opened it with sick fascination. 

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