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Women Who Stay, 14

The Skull

By Suze KayPublished 3 months ago Updated 3 months ago 3 min read

Chapter 1 ... Chapter 13


"What were the signs at Hollow Hill Farm?" I asked her, leaning across the table. My voice had dropped to a murmur. She matched it.

"Honestly, it's hard to remember. Every time something flagged for me I stopped the thought, right in its tracks. It was so hard to keep myself blind."

"Why would you keep doing that?"

She looked at me like I was stupid. "Weren't you listening? I'd decided long before."

"Yeah, to ignore the signs of his adultery. It seems to me that signs of murder might be a little different."

She shrugged. "In for a penny, in for a pound, as they say."

I was usually pretty good at hiding my honest reactions from my subjects. I prided myself on what I called my Journalist's Mask: the blank face I wore which erased my personality while communicating interest and empathy. It had become a second skin to me. It often slid over my face at parties or while running errands, when polite conversation became a chore. But right then, with Janie, I felt it slip. My jaw dropped in shock.

She noticed and smiled sadly. "I know, how terribly cold of me. But you have to see how my stakes had grown alongside the suspicions I kept at bay. Hollow Hill Farm was a dream. An oasis. It was everything I'd ever wanted. You've seen pictures, right?" I nodded, fighting to school my face again. "It had more bedrooms than I could count on one hand. I had two children to feed. I even had a horse," she chuckled. "The prospect of losing all that comfort was unimaginable.

"And it's not like he rubbed my face in it. He was quite decent. He would just... tell me to take the children and visit with his parents up in Elmhurst for a weekend. Or book us a hotel in Atlantic City and send me off with spending money. He'd tell me not to go in the pool because he was tinkering with its chemical balance. How was I to know what the color meant? I just assumed it was a water treatment."

"You mean, the pool was red even when you lived on the Farm? Not just at the end?"

"Occasionally." She shrugged like it was no big deal. "But that pool was always having problems. People made a big deal about the bits of bone on the lawn, too. But they didn't see it, they don't know. Once bones have been burned, then all smashed up, they don't even look like bones anymore. They just look like woodchips."

"But the skull?"

"The skull. Yes." She sighed. "That was different. That was the closest I came to pushing through the fog. Annabelle found it, playing outside. She brought it to me in the kitchen. I told her it was fake and sent her back out. I locked it in a cupboard and went on with my day.

"But after the children went to bed, I sat with it on the table. Waiting for him to come home. Staring at it. I could feel panic setting in. It was the same feeling I'd had holding Jacob, all those years ago -- like my brain was screaming 'This is how you lose it. This is how close you are to the edge.'

"I told the police he convinced me it wasn't... what it was. Evidence. But really, I packed it in a suitcase. The next weekend I booked a cottage by the Palisades and threw it in the sea. I never told him that I'd found it."


Read on to Chapter 15

True CrimePlot TwistFiction

About the Creator

Suze Kay

Pastry chef by day, insomniac writer by night.

Find here: stories that creep up on you, poems to stumble over, and the weird words I hold them in.

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Comments (4)

  • Poppy 3 days ago

    Oooh I think this is my favourite chapter so far

  • Belleabout a month ago

    The truth starting to come out... Leaving us on the edge, Suze!

  • John Cox2 months ago

    Her first real confession. She pins it on the comfort and joy she took in the quality of their life. But I suspect there is more to it than that. More about her need for connection where all that she has is him and their children. Does she realize that I wonder?

  • Rachel Deeming2 months ago

    So, she was sort of complicit in his crimes to preserve her way of life. Is that survival or selfishness?

Suze KayWritten by Suze Kay

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