Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Write in the MYSTERY genre (04/05/07)
TITLE: Unfinished Business
By Bonnie Derksen
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Sitting across from Kendra, the somber-faced detective added, “The autopsy was conclusive.”
Suddenly lightheaded, the room started to spin.
“How can that be?” Sophie, her father’s only sibling, reached over placing her aged hand on Kendra’s, clenched in her lap. Like a bear protecting her cub, Sophie sat taller, on the sofa, while holding the detective’s gaze.
Unbidden, the memory of her father’s body slumped over his big, mahogany desk at their home, flashed through Kendra’s mind.
She remembered going to her father’s side assuming he had just nodded off after looking over business papers. His lifeless body had fallen to the floor as his chair rolled out from under him. Kendra recalled the coldness of his body, the stiffness of his limbs, his facial expression and her scream that split the afternoon silence...
Startled, she tried to focus on the detective’s voice.
“Is there anything you can tell me about your father’s last days? Had he been acting unusual? Anything strange that stands out in your mind?” With pen poised over a narrow notepad the detective sat on the edge of his chair.
Her stomach flipped. She wanted to run. From this room, the circumstances she was forced to face, from all the pain of the last three weeks.
Instead her mind filled with a childhood memory. She was a little girl, playing “hide and seek” in the garden behind their home, searching for her father behind a stately row of cedars. “Ready or not, here I come.”…
But now, by a cruel twist, Kendra realized they had played their last game. Except in her memory, her father would never suddenly appear again, racing her to home plate, not today, not ever.
“Kendra, please. I know this must be hard but every detail is so important.”
“I’ve already told you what I remember.” Her voice, hollow and childlike, didn’t even sound like her own.
A solitary tear rolled down her cheek dropping onto her arm.
Was it just yesterday they had sat in the posh office of her father’s attorney?
The shock of hearing her father leaving his estate to some obscure company while providing for Kendra’s maintenance had been hard to understand. Fighting internally to control her fear, Kendra had listened politely to the executive director of her father’s business.
“You must trust the love your father had for you, Kendra. Especially in the days to come.”
She had known the love of her father. She would do her best to trust…
“Aunt Sophie, do you remember seeing my mother at the attorney’s office yesterday?”
Sophie tensed, an edge to her voice “No. I can’t imagine she would have the nerve to show her face after all she’s done. So many years have gone by…”
Kendra noticed her aunt gazing off, probably held captive by memories of her own.
“Well I did and she was talking to the same person at the graveside last week.”
While the detective made some notes, another memory played through Kendra’s mind. Even now she could feel her tears winding their way to the pillow beneath her head. She couldn’t have been more than seven or eight as her father had tucked her into bed.
“Will I ever see Mommy again?”
“I don’t know Kendra. She was so angry when she left and I haven’t heard from her since…”
Kendra’s mind fast-forwarded.
After her father’s body had been removed, as police searched the house and before Sophie had arrived, her mother had shown up at the door.
Looking made-up, as if to hide her age, she spoke quickly. “I came as soon as I heard. I know I’ve not been much of a mother to you…”
In shock, Kendra hadn’t known what to say; had just stood holding the door never even inviting her mother in…
An idea came to her. Kendra reached for her father’s bible on the table beside them.
It had never been far from him, the pages worn and weathered with handling. She flipped to somewhere in the middle. What was that verse he always quoted?
Highlighted and underlined, Psalms 119:105 stood out from all the other sentences on the page. “A lamp for my feet…”
“What is it Kendra? You look so pale.”
“It just came to me. At the base of the lamp on the corner of my father’s desk... I hadn’t seen it in years but there it was again, a picture of my mother. You don’t think she…”
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