I have lost count of the days since the break-in. I have been travelling for most of them, constantly moving and constantly just a little behind the thief.
Think about how you would feel. You wake up and find the room where you sleep has been violated in the most crude of manners. Things you cared about have been brutalised, or are simply gone. How would you feel? I had thought I might feel shocked, or outraged. Instead I feel cold, and numb, and the terrible need to have back what has been taken.
It wasn’t hard to find him. It wasn’t hard to set off after him, to decide to catch him myself and make him give up the things he had taken. The difficult part was always the travelling.
I got close a couple of times. I was delayed in London after some locals misunderstood my purpose and attempted to defend the criminal. I remember being in Southampton, watching his ship leave port, waiting to be swept away with fury and instead feeling nothing but the chill of the wind across the dockside.
We crossed paths again in Los Angeles. He was having money troubles, unable to sell what he stole and unwilling to simply part with it. I came within minutes of getting my hands on him then. Mere minutes.
I’m closer now. Close enough to feel his presence. He knows I’m here because he’s been running. He hid. In a desert. Assuming that my lack of local knowledge might slow me down or somehow buy him time. I can hear his ragged, desperate breath now. I must be almost on top of him. He must be almost derranged with fear to have climbed to the edge of a cliff, he must know there’s no escape now. All I can think about is how much I want to express how much his actions hurt me.
I shove aside some foliage, and there he is. His clothing is tattered and battered. He looks like he has not slept in days, perhaps longer, and he’s clutching…can it be?
The shock of it makes me pause. I reach for him, imploring. He kicks out at my hand, shrieking and unhinged, flailing until one of his hands meets the empty space behind him.
“Take it, then, you monster!” he shouts, his voice high and tearing at the air. He throws his bundle, which I lunge to catch. And there is the fury, and the joy, and the awful sorrow flooding into me as I cradle the golden canopic jar which holds my heart.