Complicit by Nicci French

By Nicci French

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It’s the best idea so far. Water. A lake or a reservoir or a river. There’s a reservoir I’ve been to once; it’s quite near here. That might be the best place. There would definitely be no one around. ’ She walked over to the body and peered down at it almost dispassionately. ’ I’d seen him asleep and I’d seen him dead and I was trying not to think of the difference. ’ She seemed to decide something and walked out of the room. I heard cupboard doors opening and closing. When she came back in she was wearing pink washing-up gloves.

I stooped and picked it up, folded it in half and then half again, and pushed it with the toothbrush I was still holding into the pocket of my jeans. ’ I raised my glass of cold white wine and clinked it against theirs. ’ ‘Liza and I aren’t on holiday, remember,’ Danielle said. ’ ‘Only teachers deserve six whole weeks. ’ I took a sip and leaned back luxuriously. It was evening but the air was still soft and warm. I needed the summer – the late mornings, the hot, light-filled days, the time away from classes of teenagers making tentative scrapes and whistles on their violins and recorders, the staff room where we were no longer allowed to smoke but drank too many cups of coffee instead, the evenings marking homework and trying to sort out my life, paper by paper, bill by troubling bill.

We’re going to have to roll it over,’ said Sonia. ’ I will see his face, his beautiful face. Will his eyes be open, will they stare up at me? ‘Yes,’ I said. ’ There he was. His eyes were open and they looked up past me to the ceiling. I couldn’t help myself. I peeled off one glove and put out a hand to touch him for a last time, to close those unseeing eyes. ’ Sonia’s voice stopped me. ‘Don’t do it, Bonnie. He’s dead. It’s all over. Now it’s a corpse, and we’re getting rid of it. If you start letting yourself feel everything, we won’t be able to go through with this.

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