He flicked through radio channels to find something that matched his mood, some of the channels had adverts on, and the rest just had cheery top 40 music. He hit the off button with annoyance. As his mind wandered back to thoughts of love, he remembered why he had turned it on in the first place. In silence, memories came flooding back. Even after moving away, and starting his life again. The echoes of his past followed, the smell of burning rubble, the sound of her parents crying but mostly the silence that had engulfed his life after the rest of the world had moved on. His mind always wandered back to the same question, why had he let her walk out that door?
As he pulled the car to a stop, his phone began to ring. He shuffled his bag open and searched for the ringing mobile.
"Hasham." He listened to the caller, glad to be filling the silence after the long drive. "I've just arrived, I'll sign in and head out to meet the group." He said his goodbyes, grabbed his bags and headed to the hotel's entrance.
After meeting the group, and being briefed on the case's development he headed back to the hotel. He tried to think about the case, it was much more intense than anything he did at Mt Thomas. They'd decided to start afresh in the morning, since many had made the journey from Melbourne to Adelaide and had just arrived.
As he entered his room, he opened the hotel minifridge and grabbed a beer. The high prices were worth the cool relief it would provide. He opened his bag on the bed, and sorted through the junk to find his laptop, and work clothes. He placed the laptop on the desk, and started to hang his clothes up. As he unrolled his shirt, he pulled the photo frame from within and placed it on the bedside. A heavy silver frame, with two photos, the only two women he has ever loved. He ran his fingers down the cold frame and his mind wandered back to those questions once again.
He stood up, he pulled the seat out at the desk and sat down. He opened the laptop, and started trying to connect the internet. After several attempts he finally had his emails downloaded, he scanned through the work emails, as well as junk that had filtered through to his inbox. He spotted an email which made his heart race, one from Beverly Parrish. Whenever he saw her last name, it took his heart a few seconds to realise it wasn't her. He took in comfort Bev, she had such strength. Though she was still mourning her daughter, she made the effort to reach out to him. He knew it must upset her to have him as a constant reminder of Jo, so he was grateful for the comfort their correspondence provided him.
He settled in to read the email, she enquired about his work, asking how it was going. She asked if he had managed to find many photos of Jo, of when she was in Mt. Thomas. He stopped reading, he felt bad that he hadn't sent them to her. He had made copies of photos he'd found, he'd found some from Tom's wedding, Jo's birthday, their engagement, he'd found some of her laughing, of her cuddled up and posing with Susie, some of her pouting at the camera. He hadn't sent them because he felt sending them to Bev would be like letting go of another piece of Jo.
He closed the laptop and sat down on his bed, sometimes when he closed his eyes, he saw Jo's face the last time he'd seen her. She was visibly upset, he could tell she'd be crying on and off all day. He could never let go of the fact that she didn't know how much he loved her when she died. He would never stop denying his love for Maggie, but he had let himself be swept away with the memory of Maggie and lost the woman who was alive and loving him. He let her walk out the door, and now she was dead and she died not knowing how much he loved her. He ran his hands over his head, and stood up suddenly. He needed to get out of his hotel room, away from the memories and out of his head for a while.
He headed down the stairs to the hotel's lobby, he decided to wander the Adelaide streets. He looked around the city and started towards the main road. He walked through the busy mall, it was late night shopping. The mall was crowded with teenagers just finished with school for the week, they were loud and obnoxious but allowed him the escape from his mind. He wandered for hours, rather than shopping he watched the people around him. It was no where as busy as Melbourne, almost quiet in comparison but the atmosphere was interesting to watch. He watched the children play on the golden statues of pigs, and the buskers who bordered on tone deaf gain a large audience.
It was his third trip up the mall when someone caught his eye, he quickly spun his around around to see the person again. He wasn't sure who he had recognised he just knew he had seen someone he knew. He scanned the people moving around him but didn't see anyone he knew. He shook his head slightly and turned around to continue walking. He walked into an arcade, and looked for something to eat.
As he sat down, his mobile phone rang. "Hasham."
"PJ!" a familar voice exclaimed through the phone. "Please tell me you're Melbourne and not off galavanting again."
PJ smiled as he recognised the voice, it'd be a while since he had heard from him. "Benny boy. It's so great to hear from you."
"Same here PJ, now seriously tell me you're in Melbourne at the same time I am."
"Actually, I'm in Adelaide...You're in Melbourne? Why?"
"Bit of a get away from the job and the kids. I can't believe you're not here mate, I was planning to catch up with you."
The conversation continued for some time, until PJ had finished his meal. He promised Ben they would catch up as soon as he returned to Melbourne, said his goodbyes and hung up the phone.
He finished his drink and stood up from the table and headed back to the now quieter mall. The teenagers had gone home now as it was getting late, now families and older women were left wandering the mall.
He watched a young family in front of him, a pretty young lady with two small children in a pram, her partner walking along side of her with his arm around her. He watched the way the lady smiled at her partner. PJ smiled at them, they offered some type of relief, though he wasn't sure to what.
As he watched them, someone bumped into him gently. He looked at them to offer an apology, he only caught a quick glance of her face. He suddenly realised it was the same person who had caught his eye earlier. His breath was suddenly caught up in his throat. His chest was tight and couldn't muster the words to apologise for bumping into her. She had begun to pass him, he turned around to face the direction she was walking. He quickly closed his eyes to picture her face again, without thinking he starting following her.
"Jo," PJ said quietly calling out to the lady. He thought about the face he'd seen, and the way she walked, "Jo." He said it more loudly this time. He followed after her, waiting for her to turn around to the sound of her name. His breath had returned to him by this time, he could feel his heart beating. His hands were sweaty, and shaking slightly.
He noticed she had long blonde hair, rather than brown hair. He was walking close behind her now, he noticed she was pushing a pram, he slowed down realising she wasn't reacting to him.
'PJ stopped walking, but the girl continued, getting further and further away. He stood there for what felt for hours. He could feel people brushing past him, some would apologise, others just continued past him without looking back.