I am still writing the novel I thought I had finished last year at this time. After re-reading, having others look at it and giving an opinion, I have decided to revisit it. The book is called, “Until Our Dying Day,” and is about the intertwining of three women from their formative teen years until death. This is just one section of the story of one of the characters – Linnie, who was abused by her mother and retreated into a world of different personalities. She is about 19 years old at the time of this scene. I’d appreciate any comments.
It must’ve been 2 AM when her parents raucously entered the house. Linnie couldn’t recall her parents ever staying out that late – especially together. Jed was singing his head off and Dorothy joined in. They sounded like a couple of drunken sailors. She giggled at the thought of her mother being out of control.
She could hear her father call to Dorothy as she went to the basement steps. His voice came from the living room. “Bring some more wine.”
Suddenly, Linnie heard a crash and a thump, thump, thump. She ran to see what happened. She joined her father at the top of the stairs, both peering down below. His eyes held fast to the broken body of his wife, sprawled out lifelessly below. Her face was turned up and her wide, black, open eyes stared directly at both of them.
Linnie raced down the steps, almost tripping and falling herself. When she reached the body, she checked for a pulse and there was none. “She’s dead, daddy.”
Linnie didn’t know how to react. This woman, who made sure to destroy her childhood, was now stone cold dead. Jed was beside himself. He began to sob.
“It was an accident. We got to dancin’ and singin’. Your Ma was goin’ to get another bottle and she slipped and fell all the way to the bottom. She must’ve lost her balance. She was drunk, Linnie. I don’t remember her ever being drunk. It happened so fast, I couldn’t save her. You gotta help me,” he said as he slowly descended the stairs.
“No one’s gonna believe she died accidentally. They’ll think I killed her. You know what it’s like. People around here know everything about everybody. They know my marriage was a joke. They’ll say I pushed her. They’ll say I killed her. What will become of me? Linnie, you gotta help me – please.”
Linnie wanted to make sure. She checked to see if Dorothy was breathing. Her legs were obviously broken and her head received the brunt of the fall. She was covered with abrasions and bruises and lay in a pool of blood. Her dilated eyes stared up at her. Those dark, lifeless, black accusing eyes still held contempt for her.
Seeing her mother like that sent all kinds of thoughts and emotions coming from Linnie’s troubled mind. On one hand she was happy she’d never have to put up with her mother again. On the other, she knew her father was right. He’d be accused of murder and that would be the end of him.
She still had a soft spot in her heart for Jed. He tried to be a good father, but Dorothy made it impossible for any of them to be normal at anything. He turned to drinking and Linnie was well on her way to following in his footsteps.
“We have to bury her,” she stated firmly.
Jed agreed. He pulled a canvas tarp from the shelf. He couldn’t stop crying. He didn’t know if he was crying for his dead wife or for what might happen to him.
They rolled the already stiffening body onto the tarp and carried her up the steps. Her mother wasn’t a small woman. It took quite a while for them to get her up those stairs, but they did. Jed’s adrenaline must’ve kicked in, because he suddenly held great strength. Linnie drew upon her inner strength too.
It was 3 AM as they dug the grave out in the woods – six feet deep and wide enough to hold Dorothy’s portly body. Her eyes were still open when the two laid her in the makeshift grave. Linnie covered her face with the first shovel full of dirt. No more would those condemning eyes be watching her. Jed tossed his wedding ring into the grave.
“I guess I wasn’t much of a husband. Never did make you proud of me, Dorothy, but I loved you. At least I did at first, before your heart turned cold. I hope you will rest in peace. Take my wedding ring back as I won’t be needin’ it anymore. I’m so sorry . . . sorry for you as much as me. Goodbye, Dorothy.”
Tears welled in Linnie’s eyes, but she wasn’t about to shed them. Her mother didn’t deserve her tears.
“I never was good enough for you either, ma, but God knows I tried. I’ll continue trying to be the daughter you thought I should be, but I can’t say I’m gonna miss you. Rest in peace.”
They continued to shovel until Dorothy was completely covered. They spread broken twigs and brush over the top. Jed laid a large log across the rubble so he could come and visit the site from time to time.
He felt relieved when the deed was completed. Linnie feared someone would find out.
“Pa, we have to come up with a story. No one is gonna believe the truth of what happened. We have to think of something that we both agree on so that our story isn’t messed up. We have to be a hundred percent in agreemen.”
She paced back and forth and presently came up with an idea.
“We can tell folks that Ma ran off with that choir director she took up with a while back. People still talk about Ma’s relationship with that creep.”
“Why bring our dirty laundry out into the light of day,” Jed asked.
“It’s the only logical story. That guy is long gone. He might be dead for all we know. No one is going to go looking for him.” The affair was the perfect answer.
At last Jed gave in. “You’re right. It’s the only way. We gotta write a note with her name on it sayin’ she ran off with that feller.”
Linnie typed a brief note on her mother’s typewriter. She addressed it, “to whom it may concern.” She added Dorothy’s signature. She had forged Dorothy’s name so many times before, it wasn’t unusual for her to do it again.
“TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: I could no longer live this lie I’ve created over so many years. I know that I’ve sinned and don’t deserve to be forgiven, but I had to follow my heart. I have never loved anyone as much as our choir director, Mr. Jones. I cannot go on without him. I plan to never return. May God have mercy on my soul.
Signed, Dorothy Dugan, Organist.
That should satisfy any suspicions. Jed remembered the entire town had seen Dorothy at the wedding so they decided to wait a few days before contacting the sheriff to report her missing. The note from Dorothy would be the end of it. Or would it?
The sun was beginning to rise as they finished their morbid deed. Birds sang their melodious songs and the sound of crickets and frogs made up the chorus. As the light penetrated to that spot in the forest, it was as if a stamp of approval had been placed on it. Of course the two of them weren’t alone in this. God was watching the entire thing. It would only add to Linnie’s great load of internal guilt and haunt her for many years to come.
All she could remember were those reproachful eyes – always blaming, belittling, humiliating. She hated those eyes, but still this was her mother. All hope of ever finding love between them was now buried deeply in the ground.
She went to the kitchen and put on a pot of coffee. Both she and Jed had been through quite an ordeal. She knew it was time to get sober and make sure her father did too. He was going to need her help getting through all this. She would need help too, but there was no one left for her. She felt completely alone.