Thursday Thriller – Basil and Garlic

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Read pt. 1 Pink Dress

Read pt. 2 Stranger

Read pt. 3 Two Little Girls

I’m hiding in the dark.  A tiny shed in the backyard.  Behind the lawnmower and neatly stacked bags of fertilizer.  I’m kicking myself.  Why didn’t I just run to the road?  Flag down a car?  Bang on a neighbor’s door and beg to be let in?  Now I’m trapped.  All that’s left to do is wait.

The door creaks open.  She still smells of basil and garlic.

“It didn’t have to be this way, darling.  I’ve grown so fond of you over the years.”  She steps closer and closer to me.  “But I’m fonder of my freedom.”  The bags that conceal me are knocked over with ease, and she standing over me, pointing a gun.  “You always hid in here when you were a little girl.  Sad, but I think you inherited your mother’s brain.”

She points the gun at my chest with cold precision.  I realize that this is probably the last sight my mother had before she died.   For some reason, that thought comforts me.  I’m not afraid.  The last sound I hear is an explosion.  Then no pain, just darkness.

*

June 23, 2000

Well, this won’t do.  Lauren, of course, had gone national.  America was in love with her.  Wept with her.  She and her crocodile tears were the lead story on every news program in the  country.  Everyone’s heart broke for the little girl in the pink dress and the mother who blamed herself.  Cora couldn’t escape her.  It made her blood boil.

She looked at the baby girl in the playpen, happily gnawing on a wooden block, and smiled.  She’d grown fond of the little girl over the past few days.  She hadn’t cried for her mother once, so that was a point in her favor, and she seemed to adore Cora.  Her eyes lit up and she reached for her whenever she entered the room.

She could do this.  She could be a mother.  They were settling into their new life – new names, new town, new backstories.  Coming to a huge bustling city had been the right choice.  No one had given her or the baby a second look.  She dressed her in dark clothes, sports-themed gear.  People assumed she was a boy.  A few had even remarked how cute her son was.  She only smiled and nodded.  They could get lost here.

She drove through the night, arriving outside Lauren’s palatial McMansion at dawn. Tacky. She parked down the street and watched.  Her husband left an hour or so later wearing a dark suit and a grave expression.  Already back at work.

She crept around back and let herself in through a sliding glass door left unlocked.  Lauren was sitting at the breakfast table, sobbing, a cooling cup of coffee in front of her untouched.

“You…” was the only word she said before she crumpled to the floor, a hole in her chest.

Cora returned to the car, unseen, and slowly drove away.  She stole a look at the baby in the back seat and blew her a kiss.  “Now, darling, I really am your mother.”  The baby cooed back.

Read pt. 4 The Star

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