Granny dropped dead in our kitchen when I was thirteen and Mother buried her in the back garden. In the sunny spot where they both liked to sit, Mother always with her back firmly turned to the dank corner where nothing ever grew. The house was sold a few years later as Mother said we needed to downsize. Soon after, the new owners were digging in a new vegetable bed and unearthed Granny’s remains. Mother was arrested for murder.
Now I could have told the truth about Granny’s death. She had a heart attack brought on by her love of all things dairy. Wouldn’t listen when I said it was bad for her. Believed skinny meant healthy. But her insides were all clogged up with cow fat. She keeled over one night during supper. Mother said we couldn’t afford a funeral with how much it cost to keep me, so she dug the hole and tipped Granny in it like she was a sack of sprouting potatoes.
But I kept all that to myself.
For as long as I could remember, I’d been counting down the days until I could get away from Mother and by the time she went to trial, I was on the cusp of official adulthood. I knew if she went to prison, I’d be freed.
So, I said that one morning Mother told me Granny had died in the night and the undertaker had been and taken her away. Mother deemed me too young for the funeral, so I stayed home by myself when she went out in her best black dress. She returned many hours later, dishevelled with an aroma of red wine enshrouding her, clutching a blue painted tin that had a gold elephant stencilled on it. Granny was in there. The tin lived in Mother’s bedroom, where I wasn’t allowed to go, and I was told never to touch it.
I could feel the waves of empathy flowing across the courtroom from the judge, the jury, the spectators. They all wanted to make things better for me. Venomous darts shot from my mother’s eyes. But I deflected them with my downcast gaze, and soft little bites of my bottom lip. I was a victim too.
The trial ended the day after my eighteenth birthday. Mother was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life. As the guards took her down her eyes were locked on mine.
I mouthed, ‘For Daddy.’
For a moment she had no idea what I meant. Then realisation dawned on her stony face.
You see, my mother had a penchant for burying the people I loved in the garden.
She’d done it to Daddy when I was very small. I saw her from my bedroom window. When I got up the next morning, she said he’d left us for his fancy woman and we were never to mention him again.
I’ve been waiting ever since to let her know what I know.
Amanda Saint is the author of two novels, As If I Were A River (2016) and Remember Tomorrow (2019). Her short fiction collection, Flashes Of Colour, is coming in 2020. Amanda founded and runs Retreat West, providing writing competitions, courses and retreats, and Retreat West Books indie press, which publishes short fiction, novels and memoirs.