Authors Note: Hello everyone and welcome back to another short story! It’s been a while. This is the first story I’ve written in about 4 months so I feel a bit rusty, but I do hope you enjoy it regardless.
I love my mother. I know she’s gone, but she isn’t. She’s standing over me as the detectives ask me questions. She’s placing her hand on my shoulder as I shudder with every accusation they make. My mother is dead, but she’s the only one who know’s the truth. She knows I didn’t kill her. Damn the evidence against me and damn this place. I love my mother, but she’s just standing there watching them accuse me of murder.
“Mr Michaels, could you explain again what happened in your own words?” The detectives voice is smooth and level, her eyes never leave mine until I break the connection and look to my mother for guidance. She simply shrugs her shoulders and motions for me to answer. I feel the detectives glance at eachother and a moment later their accusing eyes are back on me. I can’t tear my eyes from my mother. She should be the one answering these questions. I didn’t kill her and she knows it.
“I came home from work at around 7pm, I checked my watch as I pulled up outside my mothers house, I always visit every single Wednesday evening…” I trail off as the sound of my mother wimpering distracts me. She never cries.
“Don’t cry, you’re still here in a way so don’t worry, maybe we can do something to keep you with me forever” I find myself saying, momentarily forgetting where I am.
“Who are you talking to?” The pointy man asks, eyes squinting towards the corner my mother is standing in. He stands up without averting his firey gaze. Mother’s green eyes swell with hope. I know what she’s thinking. What she’s hoping. But the hope disintegrates as the detective, Duggan I think his name is, swings around towards me.
“Who are you talking to Jamie? Why do you keep looking into that corner?” He points with his nicotine stained stubs, the smell of tobacco makes me feel sick as I realise he doesn’t see her. Why can nobody see her?
“I erm, I’m just in shock. I can’t believe she’s dead” I manage to reply. My heart swells as though it were about to burst. That is until I feel her behind me again, wiping her tears and giving me strength. Detective Jones leaves her chair, nods to her colleague and within seconds, mother and I are alone.
“Listen to me right now Jamie. They’re going out there to talk about your mental state. If you keep talking to me they’re gonna think you’re crazy, lock you up and throw away the key. You need to tell them what happpened” panic tinges her words and worry seeps from her… Well from her spirit. Her body must be in a morgue somewhere by now.
“I don’t know what happened, I just know I didn’t fucking kill you!” The words rush out like missiles, bright and loud. She rolls her eyes the way she always does when she’s disappointed in me, but I ignore her. I know I didn’t kill her, I just don’t know how to prove it.
“Mother, why can’t you tell me what happened? If we both know I didn’t do it, why can’t you just tell me what to say?” I soften my voice and offer my best pleading expression, but her eyes remain still like a stagnant yellow pond.
“Because, you know! Just because you don’t remember doesn’t mean you never will. I’ll help you get there but I can’t take you. You just need to…” She’s cut off by the sound of the detectives returning. Duggan doesn’t meet my eyes but Jones does. I sense something resembling pity as she pulls out a cold metal chair. The clanking pierces my brain. Duggan notices and responds to my discomfort by grabbing his own chair and dragging it slowly towards me. He doesn’t avoid the table legs as he etches closer to my side and makes a point of slamming the chair down on my right, as if the sound would somehow crack me. I wish it did. I want to remember. I want to go home.
“Now, Mr Michaels. Can you tell me, in your own words, why we found your fingerprints on the gun used to kill Dr.Michaels, your mum?” He says trying very hard to mask the stupid smurk on his wrinkly old face. He’s got the most punchable face I’ve ever come across. If only I could.
“I don’t know. All I remember is walking into my mothers house and then blank until I sat down here and you told me she’s dead.”
“You see son, that doesn’t help us. Not even a little bit. In fact, it doesn’t help you either now does it? I mean, you’re a junkie criminal who has a history of violent crime. Your mother was a very successful doctor. Did you run out of the cash she gave ya? Did you blow it all up the wall and into your veins? Did she refuse to fund your filthy habit? Is that why you shot her?”
“I didn’t kill her” I protest while looking at the track marks on my arm. Yes, I have a disease. Yes, I’ve stolen from shops to feed the sickness inside of me and yes, I have lashed out in the past. But I’m not a murderer.
“I’m not a murderer. You’ve seen it for yourself, the people I hurt in the past were men. I’ve never even harmed a single hair on a womans head let alone shoot the only family I have left in the world!”
“Right” Duggan says as he gets to his feet and drags the chair painfully back to it’s original position.
“Right let me get this straight. Your fingerprints are found on the murder weapon. You were at the scene of the crime when authorities arrive, you have no explanation to offer us at all. You expect us to believe you ain’t involved? ”
I don’t know what to say. He’s a complete dick but he’s right. What if I did it and blocked it out? Why are my fingerprints on the gun?
“WHY are my fingerprints on the gun?” I turn to mother, red anguish rages within as she looks at me cooly.
“Think. Try to remember” Is all she says. Always so fucking cryptic my old mum. Always trying to teach me something. Even beyond the bloody grave she can’t be straight with me. Even when the evidence suggests I did kill her. Even when I could be looking at life behind bars. Hot tears sting the sores on my face and for a moment, I’m standing in my mothers hallway. I’m walking towards the living room and the atmosphere damn near chokes me as I make my way through the elaborate timber archway my dad built all those years ago. I squeeze my eyes tighter as the image begins to fade.
“Jamie, what do you see?” She says. Not mother, Jones. Maybe she understands me.
“I walked into her house. I walked down the hallway and through the archway and then… I just don’t remember. Why don’t I remember?”
“Sometimes, when the mind has experienced something traumatic, it tries to protect us by blocking out the memories. If we can’t remember we can’t feel pain. You need to feel the pain. Embrace the feelings and you might remember. Latch onto the last thing you remember” Jones says, in an almost angelic voice. She reminds me of the way my grandmother would comfort me when I cried. Mother would just stand with her nose turned up, as if my crying was a slight on her. My pain couldn’t be my own, I had to hide it away. Even from myself.
“You can do it. Listen to her Jamie” mother chimes in. This time, I don’t look to her. This time I look within.
“I get out of the car. I lock it I think. Wait, I unlock the front door and remember I didn’t lock the car. It’s an old one you have to lock with the key so I leave the front door open and lock it”
“How long did that take you?” Jones prompts.
“About 30 seconds”
“Now what happened?”
“I walk inside, close the door behind me and start to walk towards the front room. I pass the kitchen and go through the archway and then… I can’t…”
“You’re doing fine Jamie. Think about what you could smell. Did you smell anything?” Duggan snorts beside her as he clunks his massive feet on the table. I ignore him.
“Actually, I don’t smell anything, but that’s not right. Mother usually makes us dinner for around 7.30 for our visits. But I didn’t smell a thing” I say, thrilled to have made some progress.
“Can you hear anything?”
“Erm…” I think back and imagine a mini me inside my brain trying to wade through the neverending fog. He’s trying to find what I’m looking for. Maybe together we can find it.
“I can hear, crying” I open my eyes to check it isn’t actually my mother crying behind me. She isn’t, instead she glows with expectancy and apprehension.
“Mother was crying. Not loudly but enough for me to hear it from quite a few feet away. I was trying to get clean and at first I thought she had found out about the relapse I had the week before. I didn’t visit her, but I used her credit card to book myself into a rehab centre for the week. She said if I ever needed it I could use it”
“That’s brilliant Jamie. What else?”
“Yeah, you got any more lies you wanna tell? We have the evidence to charge you. I’m only humouring young Jones here. We know you did it so do us all a favour and write it down so we can all go home. Well, Jones and me can” Duggan says with a spiteful laugh that makes his blackened lungs gasp for air. Fat old bastard.
“Carry on please.”
“Ok, ok” I close my eyes, breathe in the scent of vanilla candles and focus on the cries coming from my mother “I stood at the door, it was slightly ajar and didn’t want mother to know I heard her crying. She hates that.”
“Hated” mother corrects me.
“Hated” I repeat. Something about hearing her say that, brings me closer to my memories and the fog lifts slightly. Through it, I see the gun. It’s pointing at me.
“Why was the gun pointed at me?” Mother bends to her knees and I hear them crack, almost as if she was still alive. As if she still had a body.
“Keep going Jamie” she says as she resumes circling the tiny metal room.
“I remember going in there and seeing her holidng the gun. I don’t know where she even got it from. But then she see’s me and points it at me, I don’t know why she would… She looked like, well she didn’t look like her. It was like something else took over…”
“Oh here we go. Dr. Michaels had no diagnosed mental health conditions, no criminal record not even so much as a blemish in her entire life. Do you expect us to believe she was manic? That she tried to kill you? You must be joking!” Duggans voice booms and richochets off the walls. Instinct tells me to slap him one but I’m distracted by the sound of my mother hitting the floor.
“Mother, mother what is it? You can’t leave again you can’t!”
“C’mon, look at him. He’s either high or a complete nutcase” I hear him say but I don’t care. Blood is seeping from her face. The bullet went through her cheek and she’s bleeding out. She’s leaving me again! Her blood stains my white hoodie red and I hold her dying body in my arms for the second time. She’s trying to speak but the blood spills from her mouth. Like it did before. I’m wailing again and feel myself ask the same question I did before: why?
“Why? Why did you do this? Why do you want to leave me?”
She says nothing and within seconds, she’s gone. I can no longer see her. I can’t feel her.
“She left me” I hear myself saying “I tried to stop her, I tried!” Jones gets down on the floor beside me, places a gentle hand on mine but says nothing.
“I didn’t pull the trigger but I might as well have. I pushed her too far and now she’s gone! She’s gone and it’s my fault, she’s gone because she hated living life. She’s gone because I ruined her life.”
By Jenny Lee-Kearns