“I like hats.” That’s what Donald said the day before he killed Sally. He didn’t say it to her, just to me. She was watching him put the hat on, turning it this way and that, pulling the brim low on his forehead and posturing for her, throwing a coquettish glance over his shoulder at me. She was still unhappy, I could tell. He couldn’t, and he went on fidgeting with the stupid hat until she stood and left.
I watched him pause, his eyes following her as she shut the door behind her and kept on walking. She was never very loud about being upset. I imagine that she died that way too, barely a whisper of a scream when she felt his fingers on her neck.
There was a long moment when Donald’s fingers fluttered and twitched on the felt of the brim, and then he tossed the hat off. He was always very loud about being upset. He was probably shouting, cursing, crying as Sally heaved and scraped for breath. He went out the store after her, letting the door bounce shut after him. I watched them fighting on the sidewalk, his finger pointing, as the fedora lay abandoned at my feet.
On the following Friday, we packed our bags and planned our escape. I put the fedora into my suitcase first. When the clothes and shoes piled in on top I’m sure it was crumpled into the corner, where it was safe. I would unfold it and press out the creases when we were somewhere new. I didn’t look at Donald at all as I packed. I put his jeans and t-shirts in his suitcase and asked him which shoes he wanted without turning. He didn’t move from the chair. His fingers tapped on the arm and his feet shook and jittered, but I didn’t look. I watched my own hands move instead, the clothes that hid the hat and were soon nearly overflowing. I didn’t have much luggage. I never really planned to leave.
We ate dinner hurriedly that night. We were leaving when it got dark, so we left the pots dirty in the sink. The half-eaten food was still clumped on the plates and we sneaked out without putting away the lemon sherbet that melted all over the counter. We weren’t going to have to wipe it up anyway. When the door closed behind us, shutting my apartment away in the past, it made a slow soft thump. We walked down the hallway together listening to the small sound of our footsteps and our ragged breath.