|The Celestial Realm|
Now that her secret was out, Barbara would have to go back to that horrendous place and dig it out. She yearned to forgive and she tried, she really tried to go beyond everything that had happened. However, things didn’t work out that way.
The mid-afternoon sun was still invitingly warm. She looked at her watch and decided to drop by her mother’s house.
The first thing she heard was “Why are you wearing boots? Take them off; they are filthy. Where have you been? Burying bodies in the forest?” Her mother snickered.
Typical… Obediently, Barbara took her boots off and placed them carefully outside by a flower pot. “The white roses are coming along nicely.”
Her mother replied something from the kitchen. Not important, she thought. Her mother always rambled about insignificant aspects of her daily routine while she was preparing something to eat.
Barbara grabbed the remote and pressed the buttons in a hurry, jumping from one channel to the next.
“What do you mean nothing,” asked her mother, walking in the living-room holding a tray filled with a cacophony of cookie dishes and tea paraphernalia.
“Nothing interesting on TV…”
“They’ve been on and on about that body. The lake water made a lot of damage to it. Perhaps we have a serial killer in the neighborhood!” Her mother seemed quite happy with that possibility.
“Doesn’t it bother you at all that you might be killed in your sleep by a complete stranger?”
Her mother snickered. “Of course not!”
And that was it on the serial killer topic. They drank tea and had cookies. As a matter of fact, Barbara had tea and cookies. Her mother had tea and a touch of whiskey, as usual. She drank throughout the whole day and excused herself by saying it was just a touch and not a full bottle.
They talked about the garden at the back of the house, overlooking the lake, and the flowers and the grass, which wouldn’t grow properly. It’d grow in patches, while other parts stayed empty.
“Have you tried to scatter fertilizer on the empty areas?” Barbara pointed through the window.
Her mother shook her head.
“And why not?”
“It’s not worth it. Nothing will grow there. I’m sure of that.” Her mother unceremoniously pushed her aside and closed the curtain. “Forget about it.”
Her mother always knew best and that infuriated Barbara. “Well, I must go. I still have a few errands to run before going home.”
As she walked to the front door, her mother followed her and leaned against the wall, arms crossed, watching. “Be careful out there. You know that the world is not what it seems,” she said, after a few minutes.
“What do you mean?”
“Just be careful.”
He mother always enjoyed those mysteriously threatening warnings to make her feel insecure.
Barbara would be careful, no doubt. She had to go back to the woods to dig up the damn thing. It was getting late and she didn’t want to get stuck, alone in the darkness of that damp, cold place.
The ground was easy to dig into. It should be an in-and-out operation. That was good.
The black plastic bag she had wrapped around it was still intact. No one had touched it, not even wild animals. She grabbed it and cleaned some of the dirt off of it.
Then, she filled up the hole carefully, tapped the shovel on it and covered it with a few branches. It looked as if no one had ever been there.
She thought of dressing up in one of those nifty white overalls the police people wore with little white sock-type thingies and a hood over her head, but she gave up on the idea pretty quickly. Having to find one, probably stealing it, would be too much of a hassle.
Suddenly, her cell rang. “Mother. Yes, yes. Not yet. Yes. No, I’m going home now. I had to drop by the… ahm… the… supermarket to pick up some stuff. Milk… I didn’t have milk. Oh, mother. Stop. I like milk now. Yes. Ok. Yes…” And Barbara hung up the phone.
Now she was certain of what she’d do to the damn head.
She drove all the way back to her mother’s neighborhood and parked a block away. She walked up to the house and dropped it by the mailbox, semi-hidden by the flower pot, the one with the white roses.
The ever so curious neighborhood paperboy would snoop around first thing in the morning and find it. By 10am, she’d receive a phone call from the police telling her that her mother was downtown, arrested for suspicion of murder. At 11am, she’d call her cousin Paula, who was a lawyer. By midday, she’d be at the precinct. By 1pm, she’d…
Oh, who cares, thought Barbara. Let her mother deal with it by herself.
Take your boots off. Where have you been? Burying bodies in the forest? Soon, it wouldn’t be so funny anymore, mother dear.
It hadn’t been the lifelong sarcasm or the constant nagging that made her make this decision. The humiliation was far less relevant and hurting than the betrayal.
A secret is a secret and when one vows to keep a secret, as her mother did, one is bound to keep it no matter what. Trust is the most fragile of things and it was gone.
The carefully laid-out cover-up story of her going abroad to do volunteer work for 5 years crumbled down to pieces when her mother, at a recent family reunion, had too much to drink and told everyone what Barbara’s trip was really about.
The family was shocked. The diligently quiet, studious little girl had turned into a junkie drug dealer.
She hated her mother for that. For the first time in her life, she knew she’d wait for the right opportunity to teach her mother a lesson.
Barbara just had to use the head she had tripped on a few days earlier while going for a walk by the lake. The smell was foul and she never did see the body, covered by the water, no doubt. For some reason, she just grabbed the head and decided to bury it. She didn’t think too long about it; she just did it.
The decision was slightly out of the ordinary, to say the least. However, one clear thought crossed her mind. It might come in handy one day. And it did.
Thinking back, it hadn’t been that difficult to add her mother’s hair to the head. The body was severely damaged. It was impossible to get fingerprints, but the dental records would be as clear as… water. And that fresh little detail of the hair made her mother look even guiltier. She would be portrayed not only as a killer, but as a sick, twisted mind that went back to her victim’s head to relive the moment.
When asked why she hadn’t hidden the head, her mother couldn’t answer. Why was that, thought Barbara, because you had your touch of whiskey, right?
Barbara now had the house all to herself. She got rid of her mother’s old and stuffy furniture and painted the walls in bright colors. She nurtured the garden and saw it bloom happily over the next few months, even the grass.
When told about it, her mother wouldn’t believe her, of course. She would complain about Barbara’s boots being dirty and about her hair being in disarray instead, seemingly oblivious to the fact that she would spend the rest of her life in jail.
Coming to think of it, the fact that her mother hadn’t kept Barbara’s secret became the best thing that ever happened. Barbara was finally free.
500 Word Snatch Writing Challenge (written and revised over several daily sessions)
Prompt: "Now that her secret was out, she'd have to..."