The autumn chill was still in the air when they all found out the truth, or at least part of it.
I was never truly at peace, nor did I lower my guard. All it would take was a slip of the tongue, an insinuation and I’d be in more trouble than I could ever imagine. It hadn’t always been that way. I wasn’t so cautious or suspicious of people. I didn’t have to think about the consequences of my actions, or words so much. All it took were two years for me to grow up, and I didn’t exactly have a choice in that.
Secrets will do that to a person, even more so when they’re found out. Have you ever found out your family secrets? Those whispers between women when they’re clearing out the thanksgiving dinner, that sly look passed between the men, if you’re careful enough, you can catch them at it. Every family has those rickety little skeletons in their closet. Some old, some freshly locked up, but skeletons all the same. What would you do, if you found out about the secrets and lies your parents tried so hard to keep from you were exposed?
They found out about the body a year later. There wasn’t even meant to be a body. My father went missing about 12 months ago, and nobody had even imagined, he’d turn up in our aunt’s backyard one day. Of course, he didn’t turn up, just his body. The decaying body, with my favorite green tie of his wasn’t my dad anymore, just a lump of muscles. The body hadn’t been released to us, before they brought my mother and me for questioning. This was it. Time was up for us all.
Due to his influential position in our community, we had to arrange a speedy funeral. The service was boring to me. All these people claiming to have known him, when really, the only person who had truly known him was I. Yes, I’d have to admit many of the tears were genuine, all those people my father had helped, and especially the charity cases did mourn in earnest for his untimely and unexpected death. There were two other people I kept a close watch on. My mother and aunt kept throwing glances in my direction from where I stood next to the closed casket, a hand on the polished woodwork. He may not have been an entirely good man, but he was the best father a girl could have. I’d have to make them pay. Besides the obvious, I had younger siblings to keep safe.
I’d already set the wheels in motion, and it was show time. The last one to throw dirt after they’d lowered his body in the grave; I went back to the house where we’d be receiving guests, and their pity food. That’s when the men in the uniforms showed up. They arrested them both, and it was all I could do to not smile at them. They’d never walk free again. Not with the kind of evidence the police had received from an anonymous source. Aunt Tilly should’ve thought twice before aiding mother in hiding the body.
A year ago, mom found out that Aunt Tilly was having an affair with daddy dearest, and that I wasn’t the only one. She’d accidentally killed him, after drugging his wine, and him seizing from an allergic reaction. Aunt Tilly had seen the whole thing. They had buried him in the part of the garden that was being built over.
When the police questioned me about it all, since Aunt Tilly had graciously told them about my being a witness, I was prepared.
I looked the part of the nervous, grief-stricken daughter, so I played it too.
The moment the detectives had entered the room, I broke out in sobs,
“I swear I had no idea what they were going to do,” I cried out, “I only saw them drag him away, and I didn’t know what they did to him afterwards. They threatened to hurt my brother and sisters if I went to the police or told anyone what I saw; I swear I didn’t mean to hurt anyone!”
Instead of questioning me any further, the officers spent a quarter of an hour trying to calm down the hysterical victim of a tragedy. They did ask me to repeat the events of that fateful day, which I could barely manage among hiccups, but they had what they needed. All, except for one tiny little detail.
My father wasn’t dead when they buried him.