A MOTHER’S LEGACY
By Patricia Della Valle
“You know, Marcia, dear, I think it’s time to tell you.”
“Tell me what?”
Mother and I were driving in her new luxury Mercedes. I was at the wheel. I was going home from her house in Boca Raton, Florida, to my home in New York. We were on way to the airport after a week of shopping, eating at the best restaurants, and seeing local shows. We didn’t do this very often. Mother and I were not that close, but it was an enjoyable few days. Now, I was listening to what she wanted to tell me.
“I killed your father.” From the corner of my eye I could see she was applying another layer of Passionate Pink lipstick, her favorite.
“What did you say?” I wasn’t sure I heard her.
“I said it was time I told you. I killed your father.”
My hands lost control of the wheel and we ended up on the side of the road, where I heavily braked and stopped the car in a flurry of dirt. I undid my seatbelt so I could look her straight in the eyes. Her flawless face showed no emotion. My body was trembling and my heart was beating so hard I could barely speak.
“What are you talking about, Mother?” Was she demented and I hadn’t recognized it? “Daddy had a terrible accident. Don’t you remember? You were on vacation. You were hiking on a trail in the Ozarks. Daddy was taking pictures of you. At the end of the trail, there was a deep drop overlooking a beautiful running river. You said he had stepped back to get a better picture of you. He tripped on a rock and fell over.”
She put down her lipstick. “No, dear. He didn’t fall over. I pushed him. I pretended I was coming towards him to kiss him and I shoved him over the edge. You were only eight years old. I couldn’t tell you. I certainly didn’t want anyone else to know.”
“Why, Mother? Why did you do that? I loved Daddy. I thought you did, too.”
“I did love him, but I wanted more out of life than he could give me – and you.
“Do you remember the little house we lived in? With the job Daddy had, we would never have better. The only thing he had of value was his life insurance policy for three hundred thousand dollars. I wanted the money. It was enough to give us a fresh start.”
“Why did you tell me this today?”
She put down her lipstick.
“Well, dear. You were telling me about Jack, how he always belittles you. He doesn’t like the way you cook. He doesn’t like anything you buy. You said he doesn’t like the way you dress. I had a feeling you were unhappy. I was letting you know you can change things.”
“Mother, I love Jack and he loves me. These are just normal things that happen in a marriage.”
“Sweetheart, I loved Papa Louis when I married him. Even though he was much older than I was, we had fun together. You’re not having any fun. Louis and I played tennis together, went swimming in our beautiful pool, and then we danced all night. We travelled Europe, went on cruises, and had a glorious time. And don’t forget, you went to the best schools. But, of course, Louis started aging and slowing down. “
“Mother, I’m getting nervous about what you’re about to tell me.”
“That’s silly, dear. It reached a point where he was happy watching television every night. I was still young. I wanted to go out at night. I wanted to dance. I still wanted to travel. I did the only practical thing. I put a little something in his coffee and he went to sleep – forever.”
“Mother, you make it sound so simple, but it’s still murder. You killed two kind, decent men.”
“Marcia. Louis was in his eighties. He would have died soon on his own. I just hurried him along. You know, dear, your mother is still good looking. No problem meeting men. Too bad you take after your father, but you’ve done a lot with what you have and I must say, you are attractive.”
“What are you getting at, Mother?”
“I’m just saying you’re young and pretty, and you don’t have to put up with the things you don’t like.”
I started driving. I couldn’t wait to get rid of her. This woman, whom I loved and looked up to my whole life, was a serial killer.
Our relationship changed. We still called each other, but not as often. Of course, I still loved her.
I made the best of living with Jack, but things did not get better. In fact they got worse.
I hadn’t heard from mother in a couple of months. Then one day she called on my cell phone.
“Marcia?” she asked. She sounded worried. “Is everything all right? I’ve been calling your house phone for days and there’s no answer.”“Mother, there was no answer because we’re not home. Jack and I are on our first vacation. In fact, we’re up on the trail you and daddy went on many years ago where you had such a good time. I think we’re in the same spot. Jack is standing on a grassy little mound of earth overlooking that beautiful ravine you spoke of. I have to hang up now. He wants to take some pictures of me, but I think he has to back up a bit.”
Patricia Della Valle is a senior with a love of mysteries. She is enrolled at Nova South Southeastern University in creative writing classes and recently self-published a series featuring Peter Abbott, P.I. – detective stories with humor. Patricia has written short mysteries for which she won several awards. This is the first time she is being published.
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