enna walked to the bathroom to splash cold water on her face, hoping it might settle her, bring her back to reality. Was the face staring back at her from the mirror, really hers?

Jenna was sitting in her bright yellow Volkswagen bug in front of her house stunned, unaware of having driven there. She’d obviously managed the ten-minute sojourn from the clinic on autopilot since the drive home was a complete blur.

The world was moving in slow motion, or at least hers was. Opening the car door it was as if she were observing her own body from a distance; getting out of the car, inserting the key into the lock before heading up the sidewalk to the front door. Dazed, her head filled with cotton wool, she leaned against the door allowing it to prop her up before finally opening it to walk inside.

Gently snapping the door shut behind her, she stood motionless while trying to decide what to do next. Finally heading to the kitchen, she made coffee still on autopilot. She sat on the stool nearest the coffee maker and waited. Everything felt surreal. Her mind hadn’t accepted what had happened what she’d witnessed.

She listened to the coffee perking, smelled its delicious aroma, stared uncomprehendingly around her at the kitchen Dr. Greg had helped her paint a few months previously. Of its own volition, her head dropped, her hands automatically cradling it on the counter as tears of rage began to fall. Slowly at first, just big fat drops of water that steadily grew into a steady stream. Her logical mind was kicking her, “What the hell, girl, you’ve witnessed death since forever, it’s part of the profession, part of the equation “from the day we’re born we begin to die, remember? You deal. You always have!”

Her emotional self responded no screamed back a response, “Not the death of a dear loving caring man, a man I’ve admired all my life, a man that showed an incredible depth of affection and compassion for both animals and people alike! I’ve never witnessed that kind of senseless horrific death!” Images of what she’d observed upon entering the clinic invaded her thoughts once again and she wondered if she’d ever close her eyes and not relive the horror of that moment.

Jenna walked to the bathroom to splash cold water on her face, hoping it might settle her, bring her back to reality. Was the face staring back at her from the mirror, really hers? Surely it was a mask, for these eyes were saucers of pain while hers always held a joyful spark. The skin reflected back was pale as milk while hers usually contained a healthy glow and an unfathomable sadness stretched across her features, impenetrable in its intensity.

Returning to the kitchen, she poured herself a cup of black coffee and mindlessly checked her watch. Forty-five minutes. It felt like a lifetime. The animals would be restless by now. She wasn’t sure whether Dr. Greg had fed or medicated them before..well before. Some were due hourly shots, then there was the evening feed and the stalls required cleaning. “Oh, God! Marty!” She had to get ahold of him so he didn’t find out via the grapevine the clinic was closed and more importantly about Dr. Greg’s untimely death.

Pulling her cell phone from her jacket pocket, she searched for his number and tapped it. Oddly he wasn’t answering. He was a creature of habit and he should have been sitting in Maggy’s restaurant enjoying brunch. You could set your clock by Marty and his daily schedule.

Quickly finishing her coffee, she hurried to the car and hustled to Maggy’s restaurant only to find Marty hadn’t shown up today. Odd indeed! she thought. Dr. Greg had taken her by Marty’s house to drop some dinner off one night so she decided to go check up on him in case he’d already heard via the grapevine and had headed home. She knew he’d take it hard since Dr. Greg had taken him on when no one else would owing to his unpredictable anger issues.

Jenna drove down a long narrow lane toward a quaint little house well cared for, painted an off-white with dark shutters and plenty of flowers and bushes. Marty’s car wasn’t there. She hustled to the front door about to knock when another car pulled in behind her.

Detective Manor popped out of his vehicle, a look of surprise upon his face. “Miss Montgomery?”

“Ah, hi.” She raised a hand in greeting, ” I just realized Marty probably hadn’t heard the news and I didn’t want him to find out…I thought it best if I tell him in person.”

“What are his responsibilities at the clinic?” Manor asked.

“He helps clean out the stalls and helps me prepare for the following day. He bathes and clips the animals who are heading into surgery. He isn’t scheduled to work until four.” She continued, “I was just by Maggy’s. He always eats brunch there, it a given, but he hasn’t shown up so I thought I’d best check and see if he was home.”

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