Kit was in a panic. It was all unravelling. The threads of her identity spooled in a pile before her. Kit peeled away to reveal sad, lonely Sal.
She stared at her phone. Shit. What could she do? Seamus was coming round, Seamus who she had dumped two weeks ago, Seamus who was Kit’s boyfriend and who would surely, as soon as he arrived, see through her – see her for who she really was. Which was Sal. Sad, lonely Sal.
She could make an excuse, tell him not to come, say she was out, but she felt unable to pick up the phone and type a reply. She was empty of answers. She was tired. Part of her felt defeated; the other part defiant.
Panic threatened to overtake her so she closed down her computer and dismantled her home studio. She folded the clothes that were strewn on the floor and made the bed. Whenever chaos threatened her mind, she created order around herself. It was something she had learned from her self-help book: you can do anything if you make your bed. She made and remade her bed five times.
As she tidied and cleaned a feeling of lightness came over. Giddiness. She laughed to herself and hopped around, doing ad hoc Jumpstyle dance moves as she flung pillows back on the sofa and brushed nail clippings under the bed. She wasn’t sad, lonely Sal, she was a Jumpstyle star with over 250k followers. People didn’t just look to her for dance moves anymore, they looked to her for a way of life. She was an idol. But Seamus threatened everything. What if he exposed her for fake or worse, lame?
With searing clarity it came to her: what she needed to do. She owed it to her fans; she owed it to herself. It was about more than money, more than moves, than Gabba remixes, than one person: it was about a complex network of support and spiritual guidance. And then she was calm: allowing the sense of terrible inevitability to drag her forward. She sat in the middle of her now sparkling bedroom, the scent of bleach and floor cleaner filling her nostrils, and waited.
In her mind she replayed all of the Poirot episodes she had ever watched: Murder on the Nile, The Yellow Iris, Tragedy at Marsden Manor, Wasp’s Nest, How Does Your Garden Grow?, The Plymouth Express, Double Sin, The Cornish Mystery, The Lost Mine, and, her all-time favourite, Four and Twenty Blackbirds.
What was so brilliant about the stories was the way Poirot pieced together the clues of each murder, building a picture that was otherwise invisible to a viewer. The biggest clue of all – of course – was always the body. Hence the problem of The Body in the Library: disguising the cadaver as another woman threw Poirot off the scent. Change the body, or remove it altogether, and the clues are gone. Remove it altogether.
The scent of cleaning products was making her feel a bit woozy and really, she wanted to lie down, but she got up and retrieved a plastic tarpaulin from under the bed, laying it on the ground. She checked her phone. He should be here. She made everything was in place and looked at herself in the mirror. Her reflection stared back, wide-eyed and high-cheekboned. Was that her? She ran a hand over her bald head. Something niggled at the back of her mind – was that her?
The doorbell rang. She put on a hoodie and buzzed him up.
When she opened the door, a waft of something sweet hit her, like toffee, cutting through the sterile smell of the room.
‘Wow, this is certainly clean,’ Seamus’s voice was soft and low. He spoke slowly, ‘even for you.’
He hadn’t yet looked at her properly but stood in the middle of the room, observing his surroundings. Then he turned to face her and she flinched with the sudden movement.
‘Are you OK Kit? What’s going on,’ the softness of his voice seeped under her skin, ‘you seem a little, you don’t seem like yourself. Come here.’
Despite herself she found him leading her toward the sofa. His grip was firm.
‘Let me look at you,’ he pushed her hood down and she flinched again, ‘something’s different.’
His hands cupped her face. She wanted to pull away and pull closer at the same time. His touch was gentle at first but came stronger – his hands moved downwards, were they? Was he? They were around her throat.
‘Kit–’ he said and as he brought his face toward hers she reached upward and slit his windpipe.
Remove the body and remove the clue. But she had forgotten about the blood. There was a lot of it – far more than she expected. Hard to believe a body could hold so much blood. Seamus hadn’t screamed. Just made a kind of gurgling noise and slumped forward, ruining her clothes and sofa with all his blood. She heaved him onto the floor and wrapped him in the tarpaulin. She had ordered Sulphuric Acid on Amazon Prime earlier; she wished it would hurry up.
Something niggled at her again. In the back of her mind. The way Seamus had looked at her – as if he knew her. As if she was, in fact, Kit. She looked in the mirror again, unblinking, unrecognising. Who was it who stared back? Kit or Sal? What was the difference?
The light outside turned dull and grey. It began to rain, casting her face in a bluish hue. She could feel the heat from the body on the floor emanating upwards.
She remained standing for a long time, staring at herself in the mirror, as the sky turned dark and she waited for her Amazon delivery.
You Can Be Whoever You Want To Be