Melody nodded in the direction of Gordon's concealed body, both hands cupped into an artificial surgical mask of sorts.
"Friend of yours?"
I winced at the question and nodded timidly, hopeful that she wouldn't detect any of my guilt in my demeanor. She watched me for a moment then turned suddenly, quietly retching into her cupped hands. She shuddered and looked back at me apologetically.
"I'm really sorry. I don't think I'll ever get used to that smell."
Her eyes dropped again to the pile of clothes; her brow creased into a pained expression, equally surprising and perplexing in its sincerity.
"Sorry for your loss."
A rather cliché statement, yes, but confoundingly heartfelt. Who was this seemingly sympathetic, unassuming figure standing before me? Is this not the same woman who pulled the trigger on Eduardo? Is that not the same pistol whose contents burst forth and pierced through the tight, pinkish coils housed in Eduardo's unsuspecting think-tank? Is this not the same woman who murdered, plundered, then fled, ostensibly remorseless and unhesitating?
"Just a sec."
She withdrew her makeshift mask and swung the bag from her shoulder, grunting as it slumped to the floor with a notable thud. She pulled her shirt up over her nose and knelt beside the bag, but paused almost immediately; her eyes narrowed as she pointed across the room.
"That your cat?"
I winced a second time and offered another timid nod in response. I was becoming acutely aware of the crippling limitations I had with communication. Though, these limitations also proved quite convenient for Melody's rather uncomfortable questions.
"Mm, I see."
She unzipped the bag and slid her arm inside; a cacophonous symphony emanated from within as her inquiring hand rolled around in its entrails. Her eyebrows twitched ('ah-ha!') and she extracted a metallic container, which she then set beside the bag. She plunged her arm inside again and pulled out an actual surgical mask (interestingly enough), which she gracefully snapped around her head. Exhaling a sigh of relief, she looked up at me, her eyes bright and cheerful.
"There. Much better."
She adjusted the collar of her shirt and pulled her hair into a ponytail.
"Got a bowl or something by chance?"
The opportunity had finally presented itself, so I finally exercised the second of my two available options for communication, shaking my head horizontally this time. Innovative.
"Figured. Okay, uh, hang on."
She plucked an empty can from the bag and set it on the floor next to the bag as well. I wondered if it had originally belonged to Eduardo.
"Here," she said as she unscrewed the cap, "this is for your little furry friend over there. Looks thirsty." She tipped the container and filled the once empty can with water, then stood up and extended the can in my direction. I nodded vigorously, infinitely grateful and beholden to her selfless gesture. I carried the can to Shilah and carefully set it beside her. She rose shakily to her feet and rattled a creaky meow as thanks.
I looked back at Melody and attempted to twist my face into something resembling an expression of gratefulness, but I was confident I failed at this attempt. She watched from the kitchen, both hands resting on her hips. Her eyes seemed to wander toward the coffee table beside us, narrowing once again.
"Hey, does that laptop still work?"