I went to the pharmacy to pick up Mama’s headache prescription. I wasn’t paying attention and banged into someone.
“Hey, watch where you’re going.”
“That’s all right,” the handsome young man said. He studied me. “You look sad. Seems like you could use a friend.”
“Guess so,” I agreed.
“How about going for coffee?”
“My mother would worry. She expects me home.”
He asked how old I was. I told him eighteen. He told me his name was Thomas Morgan and he was starting graduate school in the fall.
“Give me your phone number and I’ll call you.”
I knew Mama wouldn’t approve. “Give me yours instead.”
While Mama was busy in the garden a few days later, I phoned Thomas. Soon I began meeting him secretly. Things came to a head toward the end of the summer.
“I’m leaving soon for school, Linette. I’d like you to come with me.”
“I can’t leave Mama.”
“Invite me to your house. Your mother will like me.”
But Mother didn’t like him.
“Mrs. Furguson, I love your daughter and want to get engaged before I leave for school. We can marry over winter break.”
Mama looked as if she’d swallowed a wasp. “My daughter’s too young for marriage.”
“I promise to make her happy.”
After Thomas left, Mama burst into tears. “You can’t go with him.”
This was what I’d been dreading. “I’m old enough to get married.”
Dad put away money for me in my name before he left. I had a bank account. I planned to use it to help with living expenses. Thomas bought me a diamond ring before leaving for school.
One day when Mama went shopping, I raked leaves in the garden. After some exertion, I sat down on our wooden bench. The earth began to vibrate. A voice seemed to be coming from beneath the rose bushes.
“Linette, I know you’re here. Listen to me. She’s going to kill you just like she did me.”
I thought I must be imagining things, but the voice sounded like my father.
“Daddy, I…I can’t believe I’m hearing you. You went away. You left us.”
“No, your mother poisoned me, then buried me in her garden. She’ll do the same to you if you’re not careful. She comes and talks to me most days. That’s how I know. As long as she’s alive, she won’t let go of you. That’s why she home-schooled you and made certain you had no friends growing up. When I told her I was planning on leaving her and taking you with me, she went crazy. I waited for her to calm down. That was my mistake.”
I heard my mother’s voice calling from inside the house. I hurried inside, frightened and breathless.
“Look at you, honey, you’re all perspired. You worked too hard in the garden.”
The truth was I hadn’t been feeling well lately. My stomach was giving me problems. My heart skipped beats, often racing, and I had odd tingling in my fingers and toes.
When my mother called me for dinner, I was feeling weak and chilled. I ate some of the salmon and baked potato, took a few bites of spinach salad and then pushed my plate away. Mama produced a sundae from the freezer.
“Here, darling, just for you with love.”
I looked from her beaming, expectant face to the ice cream treat in front of me. I had a sudden terrible thought. Mama kept rat poison in the garage, a form of arsenic. She set out traps for the field mice that entered the garage. Had she been sprinkling it in my food? Was a dose of poison in my dessert? There was one way to find out.
“Mama, I want to share this with you.” I pushed the dessert toward her.
“No, sweetheart, this is just for you alone.”
With every bit of strength I could muster I pulled my mother to me and began forcing the ice cream down her throat before she could resist. She began to gag on it. She retched, and then I knew for certain. It was true. She was trying to kill me.
Before she could react, I took a sharp kitchen knife from the counter and stabbed her multiple times.
Mama is buried in the garden beside Papa. They will be together for eternity, just as she wanted. I closed the house and joined Thomas on campus knowing I am truly my mother’s daughter.
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