He severed the common carotid artery in your neck. It could be considered random, unlucky, that’s how hard it is to kill someone in this way. The carotid artery has two branches, one for each side of your body. These little freeways are barely 6 millimeters in diameter as they traffic oxygenated blood to the brain. The carotid pulse is amongst the strongest; because of the size of the artery and the significance of the blood flow, it can often be felt when there is no other sign of life under the skin. The common carotid artery, it’s called. Once severed you bleed out within minutes. Turns out the difference between life and death measures barely 6 millimeters. It was like a punch to the neck, that’s how a witness described it. But he came down with a blade instead of his fist and you were dead within three minutes.
I want to know the facts. I will come to crave the facts. I will talk with police officers and detectives, with lawyers and doctors to understand how someone can die in this way. Some will humour me, others will provide me with detailed notes on the complexities of the human body, and still others will say Anna, are you sure you want to know? And the answer is, yes – I have to. Nothing in my life is real anymore, nothing contains a truth I can hold on to, an unequivocal on which to tether myself. If I don’t find some way of holding on, of grounding myself I will sink under, I will let everything grow over me and I will disappear from this world we created together.
I have two children to consider, my Ollie who stares at me with the most heartbreaking expectation, the silent imploring that I’m going to tell him it was all a mistake. That they got the wrong guy, that his dad will be home tonight, this night, before we have to sleep-walk through yet another day. And the baby in my belly, this tiny force grasping at life and reminding me to chew at food I cannot taste, to get up and keep moving every day, to orient toward a future moment, when life feels like nothing more than a protracted, endless now.
So I will learn about your death, Ben, I will learn the facts and the science and the statistics on death by stabbing, and why. I will know everything about the murder investigation, about Adam Price and this young woman whose face is all over the news. The pretty ballerina you gave your life for. I will know her, and I will know what happened to us.
I will wrap my arms around your mother and let her cry into my shoulder so that she cannot see how hard I am biting down on my own sorrow. I will sleep next to Ollie every night, keeping the bathroom light on and his favourite pillow between us, and he can think I don’t know how he cries himself to sleep. I will be the one they can ask, when they’re ready. What happened? I will have all the answers waiting.
I have to know what happened to us, Ben.
Eidyia’s note: All of my characters in body, remember are constantly asking questions, constantly seeking out the truth after living certain lies for years. There is a moment, later, where Anna is told that survivors always imagine the worst, that there are darker places in our minds than we could ever have imagined. I am beginning to see that this story is about moving from that dark place. Truth and light and all that – if you can take a deep enough breath and turn toward it.