“I swear, I didn’t do it!” There were tears in Ian’s eyes as he stared at the detective on the other side of the interview room.
“So it’s just coincidence that Miss Cole’s blood was on your clothes?” The detective didn’t raise her voice. She just sat there in her suit, hands folded neatly over her phone and the folder sitting underneath it. She looked at Ian like she’d wiped him off her shoe.
Next to her, a light blinked on the machine recording their conversation.
“I love her!” Ian said. “I would never kill her.”
“Most murderers know their victims,” the detective said. “Most murdered women are killed by male partners. How often do you think I’ve heard that line?”
“I swear,” Ian said. “I would never…”
“Alright,” the detective said. “Assuming, just for a minute, that you believe what you’re saying. There’s another problem.”
“Problem?” Ian whispered. His mouth was dry, his body exhausted by grief and tension.
“Your mental health,” the detective said, tapping the folder. “According to friends, you’ve been forgetful lately. Appointments missed, commitments overlooked, conversations forgotten.”
“You think I killed her and forgot?” Ian asked, incredulous.
“Your colleagues mentioned fits of rage.”
“I’ve been ill, not a psychopath!”
The detective slid her chair back and her hand went to something on her belt. Ian realised that he was on his feet, gripping the table edge so tight that his knuckles were white and cold as snow.
Forcing himself to take slow, steady breaths, he lowered himself into his seat.
“Sorry,” he said, staring down at the table. The phone there was telling him it was almost midnight. Could it really be that late? Surely they’d only pulled him from bed a few hours ago. “I just…”
He didn’t like to think, even for a second, about the possibility that he could have done this. But the only way to escape that thought was to make sure.
“How would I know?” he asked. “If I’d had amnesia. If I’d… If I’d done this and forgotten.”
“Have you experienced periods of confusion?” the detective asked, her hands slowly coming back to the table.
“Emotional outbursts or stress?”
He nodded again, his stomach knotting in dread.
“You think you remember something, but others remember it differently.”
“Doesn’t that happen to everyone?”
“It’s about patterns and frequency. You don’t have to have a cold to get a temperature or a runny nose or clogged sinuses, but put it all together and-”
“OK, I get it.” Ian forced himself to release the edge of the table again. Tears ran freely down his cheeks. “It’s possible… Maybe I’ve forgotten things.”
“Have you changed your medication recently?” the detective asked. Her voice became softer, her expression more sympathetic.
Ian nodded. “To try to stop…” He waved a hand as if snatching at the fog clouding his mind. “All of this.”
“Even good medicine can be destabilizing in the short term,” the detective said. “If you were already suffering with anger and memory problems, it could have become worse.”
Ian wavered, then shook his head.
“No,” he said, leaning back. “No. I’ve never lost a chunk of time. I just get muddled.”
“OK then,” the detective said. She drummed her fingers against the folder. “We can talk about who might have framed you. Hypothetically.”
She rubbed her eyes, then pressed a button on the side of her phone. The display lit up, showing the time again.
“I’ll get us both coffee,” she said, standing up.
Ian looked down at the phone. The display read “11:47, Mon, 30 January.”
He felt like a vice was squeezing his chest.
“I thought it was Saturday,” he murmured, staring at the phone.
So it was true. He really had lost his memories. Lost his mind. Lost two whole days when he was meant to see Dee and she wound up dead. And then her blood had been found on his clothes and…
He let out a long, gurgling sob.
“Ian?” the detective asked.
“I did it,” Ian said, feeling as though his heart had torn open. “I don’t remember doing it, but I must have. I was… Oh God, I killed her.”
“Pausing interview,” the detective said, then pressed a button on the recorder. “You clearly need some time. I’ll be back with coffee and then we can talk.”
As she opened the door, Ian didn’t even notice the sunlight illuminating the corridor or the TV perched in a corner, where a group of detectives were watching the Saturday afternoon game.