- Author: T. Belshaw
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Trouble Comes Disguised As Family
T. A. Belshaw
Copyright © 2021 T.A.Belshaw
All rights reserved
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
Edited by Maureen Vincent-Northam
Cover design by: J. D. Smith Design
Authors Reach 2021
For my editor, Maureen Vincent-Northam who has been with me from the start
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Jessica Griffiths opened the door of her little Toyota and climbed out onto the asphalt drive. She pushed the door shut and stepped slowly towards the front door of the old farmhouse. She hesitated on the step, holding the key tightly in her right hand. It was the first time she had been back to the house since Alice, her great grandmother, mentor and soul mate had died.
Taking a deep breath, Jess shoved the key into the yale, twisted it and pushed the door open. She stooped to pick up a small pile of mail, mostly junk by the looks of it, and stepped inside closing the door behind her.
The air seemed thick and clung like a shroud; the silence was absolute, even the bane of Alice’s life, the big old clock on the wall, had stopped ticking. Her heels echoed eerily as they clicked across the solid timber floor. She turned towards the lounge and stood in the doorway for a moment as she remembered those last few moments she had spent with Alice. The chair she had died in was in the same place, the lion’s foot coffee table was at the far end of the room where the paramedics had moved it to give them space to work. Her hospital style bed had been made; Gwen, her carer must have been back to see to that.
Jess dropped her bag on the floor, next to the chair she had sat in to listen to Alice relate the story of her troubled, abuse ridden past, the chair she had sat in to read the memoirs that Alice had asked her to bring down from the attic. There were more volumes up there when she felt ready to retrieve them, it wouldn’t be today.
Jess slumped down and stared across at Alice’s empty seat and her thoughts immediately returned to that dreadful day. She could see herself kneeling at Alice’s side as the old woman stared fixedly at the big clock, she saw herself stroking the back of her hand, telling her that everything was going to be fine, that she shouldn’t take any guilt with her as she passed over, that her actions had been totally justified. Alice had responded, moving the nail of her index finger against Jess’s hand, letting her know that she had heard and had understood. Then she breathed her last.
The paramedics had arrived shortly after but there was nothing they could do. Jess stood in the kitchen with Gwen, while they performed a perfunctory assessment of her body before zipping it inside a bag and carrying it away. There would be no post mortem, Alice’s ninety-nine-year-old body had finally given out, that’s all there was to it.
When the emergency services had gone, Gwen made tea and she sat on the sofa with Jess, holding hands and sobbing until there were no tears left.
‘Alice gave me a letter for you,’ she said eventually. She walked through to the kitchen and returned with a white envelope in her hands. ‘She said you weren’t to have this until she had gone.’
Gwen picked up her coat, bent forward and gave Jess a kiss on the forehead. ‘I’ll leave you to read your letter in peace. I’ll come back later to tidy things up.’
Jess turned the letter over in her hands and read the front of the envelope. To Jessica.
She waited until she heard Gwen close the front door before carefully easing it open. Inside, written in Alice’s familiar, neat handwriting was a one-page letter, and a folded bank cheque.
My darling Jessica,
Well, that’s it, my dear, I’ve moved on to wherever it is I’ve moved on to. Don’t cry too much for me, I’ve lived a long, interesting life that has been full of love, lies, recriminations and revenge. It’s been a good life, on the whole, made better by you being a big part of it. You already know all about my altercations with my daughters and granddaughter. I sometimes wonder if they were ever really part of me at all. Then I think of you and our remarkable similarities, you think like me, you act like me, you laugh at the things I laugh at, and you look, pretty much like I did at your age, had we been together in the same room back then, people would have taken us for twins.
I hope you won’t feel too ill of me when you read the final chapters of my 1938 memoir, my dear. There was little else to be done and I’d do it again tomorrow, if I was forced to. I hope you understand why I did what I did.
Soon, you will be contacted by a firm of solicitors who are administering my affairs. You might remember their name from my old notebooks. You are the main beneficiary of my estate, but I have put conditions in place. I