What we saw at night, p.21
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       What We Saw at Night, p.21

           Jacquelyn Mitchard
 
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  Dead for weeks, Juliet left me five pleading, chilling phone messages.

  After I cried and screamed in Rob’s arms until I was too limp to do anything but stand in the shower and fall asleep, I made copies of those calls. I copied the files onto my computer, and then onto a CD. I gave Rob the CD and he burned several copies, locking one in his fireproof ceiling safe. Maybe he was only humoring me because he knew I had Xeroderma Pigmentosum, or XP, the deadly “allergy” to sunlight. And while I never accept pity, I accepted that he was willing to accept my version. He simply said that he had a great deal of experience with things that could not have actually happened but had.

  Dr. Yashida sent a courier for the copy I made for him. An FBI analysis compared the voice on the phone calls with the audio of old videos Juliet and I made, of us skiing, or dancing, or modeling the clothes we’d bought. At least three were a near-perfect match for her voice. Of the last messages, less than two seconds long, when she was screaming for her mother, the analysts couldn’t be sure.

  They did believe those were also real.

  While I was certain, utterly certain, that those calls had been recorded long ago, they did the job they were meant to do on my head. They were a heartless ruse from a soulless creature to convince me that there was the slimmest chance that Juliet was still alive and needed me. The subtext was clear.

  If I told anyone the truth, the unthinkable would happen. If Juliet were somehow alive, then she would die, and her death would be on me.

  This is a work of fiction. As such, any and all errors of fact are the author’s alone. I wish to thank my friend and fellow author Dr. Gay Walker for her help in understanding the hope of gene therapy for families afflicted with real diseases such as Xeroderma Pigmentosum, and my son Dan for dabbling in Parkour and not letting me know about it. Always, but especially through some harrowing recent times, I owe a great debt to my extraordinary friends, to my even more extraordinary children, and to my beloved agent and longtime friend, Jane Gelfman. A salute to Soho designer Janine Agro, and cover designer Michael Fusco for making this all look so grand, and my editor Daniel Ehrenhaft, for making it sound even better than it looks.

 


 

  Jacquelyn Mitchard, What We Saw at Night

 


 

 
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