There was Squiggly. Stuck on the edge of the window frame, where she'd been squashed when Partner closed the window the night before.
I immediately erupted into great, choking, gasping sobs. I ran out to Partner, tears streaming down my cheeks and wailed, "It's Squiggly!"
He asked what happened, but I couldn't say. I could only take him to the room and point at her while trying my hardest not to look. That split-second glimpse of her had been enough. I couldn't bear to look again. Partner kindly took the body away while I sat in the other room bawling. I cried non-stop for about four hours, and spent the rest of the day holding back tears.
Squiggly was the closest thing I had to a pet since I was a little girl. She may not have been soft and cuddly like a cat or a dog. But anyone who's had non-cuddly pets will know that they can be just as cute, just as full of character and personality. You can develop a relationship with any animal if you see it as a distinct being in it's own right.
And maybe it's because when I moved here, I had no one but Partner. Squiggly's constant presence was a comfort to me. She was like a friend who made no demands at a time when I had nothing to give. I grew attached to her. I cared for her. And Partner cared too. He shooed away the bigger geckos when they challenged her territory. He spotted her outside and let her back in. He even, in the past, ushered her away from the window when he was closing it so she wouldn't get squashed. Last night he noticed her missing and went around the room, checking behind furniture and curtains.
We don't know what happened. Maybe she was trying to get back in and misjudged the timing. Maybe she was too secure, knowing we wouldn't hurt her, and therefore didn't run when Partner came near like the other geckos would. Maybe she thought she was hidden and didn't realise the danger. Maybe, in her pin-prick brain, she thought nothing at all. Maybe she was already dead.
At any rate, she was quite flat, and her guts had kind of smeared out. That image, that first, terrible sight was etched on the back of my eyeballs and has been haunting me all day.
For exactly three months we have had this place. For three months I had a gecko friend. Now I just have lots of nameless geckos that wander around. But no Squiggly.
Here is the scene of the crime after the body was taken away. Note the small bloody smear...