Family Reunions Are Murder

By Liberty Speidel

Spending time with my family was such fun. It only remained to decide whom I would kill.

I had a choice, you know. It just wasn't possible to kill all my relatives who deserved it.

Uncle Pete stood at the picnic table, talking to Cousin Maureen. He spotted me as I carried my trademark potato salad to the food table. "Here to poison us again, Caroline?" he asked. "Why do you even bother trying?"

"I didn't poison you, and you know it," I said, trying to step past my caustic uncle. "You were too drunk."

He sneered. "I know exactly what happened. You've been trying to get at me for years."

I rolled my eyes. "If you'll excuse me, Uncle Pete, I need to get this salad in the shade." I clenched my teeth, thinking of other insults over the years.

Uncle Pete wasn't the only one on my short list. My sister swam in the lake with her husband — who used to be my husband. I'd never forget the day I came home early from work, only to find my husband Alan in bed...with Susanna.

Yeah, Alan and Susanna would be just as acceptable dead as Uncle Pete. But, which of them? And what of their two-year-old daughter? While I might hate them, Isabella didn't deserve to lose her parents at such a young age.

For some reason, my mother-in-law had decided to make an appearance. "Oh, Caroline, what did you do to your hair?" She came quickly to me. "It looks like a bird took to making its home there."

"Never a kind word, Veronica." I retorted, looking for an escape route as I dug into my pocket to ensure the vial of cyanide remained there. It wouldn't do any good for the powder to come out in my pocket.

My husband, Mike, climbed the hill to where I stood. "Mother, this is for Caroline's family."

"You know I can't turn down a party," Veronica said. "Where are you guys hiding the brew?"

"Mom," He took her by the elbow and guided her towards her car. "You know they're strict Baptist..."

Well, one less potential victim.

That was until Uncle Frank moved toward Mike and Veronica. "Mike, I don't believe I've had the pleasure of meeting your mother."

I shuddered. Visions of wedding bells — and me trying to explain how I was doubly related to my husband — had me covering my eyes in dismay.

My mother put her hand on my shoulder. "Caroline, dear, are you okay?"

"Just a headache, Mom."

"Come get something to drink. That'll help." She turned to see Uncle Frank make Veronica blush. "Ah, I see."

I smiled. Good ol' Mom. About the only sane one in my family. "I think a drink sounds good."

Gramma manned the punchbowl. She'd been the most observant in my family until her glaucoma had become severe in the last year or so. "Susanna, is that you, dearie?"

"No, Gramma, it's Caroline."

Her face crinkled in a smile. "Oh, I'm sorry. Are you having a good time?"

Only the time I spend planning to kill someone. "Yes. Just thirsty."

"You came to the right spot." Carefully, as befit her near-blind status, she poured a cup of raspberry lemonade — a tradition at these monstrosities. I'd have given anything for a pint of vodka to spike it with — at least it would become entertaining. Too late for that.

I sat by myself and watched my relatives cook, play, eat, and talk. I allowed myself to space off, deciding who should die as I sat in the sun, the wind blowing at my back.

When I came to, I spotted Isabella playing near Gramma. My niece picked up a small white object from the ground. As kids are wont to do, she put it her mouth.

Instinctively, I felt for the vial. It wasn't there.

"Isabella, no!" I leapt to my feet and sprinted towards my little niece. Even if she was Alan and Susanna's spawn, she was a sweet little girl. She didn't deserve death.

People were in my way. Hot dogs and lemonade flew as I barreled through them to get to Isabella.

She tried to bite through the vial as one would a Twizzler. "Aunt Car-line!"

"No, no, no, Sweetie." I pulled the vial out of her grasp as I made sure none of the powder had poured into her mouth.

She started crying. I held her close and pocketed the vial.

There would be no death today.

Susanna and Alan rushed to where I still cradled their screaming daughter.

"What happened?" Alan shot me an accusatory glance.

"She...she put something in her mouth. A stick, I think."

Susanna laughed. "Kids put things in their mouths all the time, Caroline. It doesn't hurt them."

"You can never be too careful." It was better they didn't know exactly what happened. "The littlest things can kill you."

LIBERTY SPEIDEL was forced to read a Nancy Drew book at the age of 10...and never looked back. Since that time, she's had a fondness for reading, and now writing. She is a regular contributor to Christian Children's Book Review (, and has previously served as the program coordinator for her local Sisters in Crime chapter. A lifelong Kansas resident, Mrs. Speidel lives with her husband, their two adorable children, and a Labrador Retriever named Tucker, all of whom reluctantly accept her affection for books and writing. For more information on Liberty, please see her website at:

Copyright 2012 Liberty Speidel. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!

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