‘How many have we done? I’m going to get coffees – take a break.’ Bryan pushed his chair back and the vibration on the tiled floor grated inside Keely’s ears.
‘Ugh!’ she placed the heels of her hands into her eye sockets and rubbed hard. She groaned with appreciation and finally leant back in her chair and stared at her partner of two years, allowing her focus to return. ‘Yup, ok. Mine’s a double shot this time.’
‘Ok, don’t start back without me.’ Bryan pulled the door closed and it clicked behind him.
‘You wish’ she mumbled to herself and turned once more to the pages of herbs. They were at G in the alphabet and nothing so far in Ava’s diagrams had looked similar to the pattern on the wall in the garage.
Earlier she’d found herself missing Rob and fighting an inner urge to text him. Reminding herself that his ex wife was probably snuggled against his thighs on one the sofa was all it took to brush the notion aside. She spent the next ten minutes checking and re-checking methodically through the diagrams.
‘What the fuck? I told you to take a break!’
‘I will. Now.’ Keely reached for the ribbed cup, warm to the touch but protective from the heat of the coffee within. Flicking the lid into the bin and blowing lightly across the surface, she indicated to Bryan to take over.
‘J already? What are you … some sort of workaholic with a death wish?’ Bryan stared at the next page, ‘hell yeah – juniper berries, now you’re talking!’ Bryan grinned at her but quickly returned to the pattern comparison with that of the circles on the garage wall.
‘I wonder if he’s thrown her out yet.’ Keely idly dipped her finger into the froth on the top of her double shot cappuccino and licked it.
Bryan briefly met her eyes but said nothing.
‘I mean, he hated her. Told me he’d known it had been over for months. Why would he take her back? I seriously give up with men.’
‘Nah you don’t. We’re not all bad y’know.’ Bryan’s voice was quiet, and she liked his assurance.
‘Maybe I mean I give up on relationships; all this having to work at crap after the honeymoon stage is over.’ The final dregs slid down and she checked the clock on the wall, red digital numbers blinking.
‘Right, my turn …. L … why did she only create two for each letter do you think?’ dragging the book across the desk, Bryan turned the screen towards her and clicked his knuckles.
‘Well thank God she did. Can’t believe I let you rope me into this. It’s like join the dots but without numbers or an idea of where to start.’
The smell of peeled sweet banana, a little past its best, surrounded them after Bryan found one in his top drawer.
‘Want a bite?’
Keely chose to respond with a silence and he squashed the flesh between his teeth and tongue and ate the whole thing while he shuffled papers on his own desk.
‘Shit!’ Keely sat more upright and pointed at the screen methodically. ‘Look!’
He threw the skin into the bin and moved in closer to see the page.
‘Oxalis Corniculata … a yellow weed?’
‘Yeah but look at Ava’s diagram. It’s the same! The two up high, these three not quite in line down the centre, one low here and this cluster on the left. It’s an exact match!’
Read part 1 here!
Read part 7 here!