Fiction logo

The Betty

Lost for 100 years

By Renessa NortonPublished 3 years ago 3 min read
The Betty
Photo by vaasuu ahluwalia on Unsplash

Many folks begin stories “a hundred years ago,” but truly, one hundred years ago, my grandfather sat barrelled against the door of this gloomy hotel room, bracing his back against the tempestuous booms radiating the thin, already splintering wood. The police had found him at last, not fooled by the vague breadcrumbs he’d trailed in the wrong directions, instead following the rhythm of his modus operandi to his favourite place in the world: George’s Hotel. George’s was an icon of its time: grand and overwhelming, fit for a king, the inside decked out in mahogany furniture, adorned in a ruby, emerald and sapphire colour palette, and what’s more, sharing my grandfather’s name. George may have been a proud man, but smart, not so much. This was always where the police found him, and as the bottom, left-hand side of the door split, it sent a shard of wood into his shoulder, puncturing his crisp white shirt, causing beads of blood to adorn his collar, freshly pressed just last night by his wife, Gloria. Incidentally, George had secured Gloria his lifelong partner in this very pub by getting her pregnant the first night they had met, creating their daughter, Delilah, in a small broom cupboard under the grand staircase.

George had cursed the pigs as they dragged him away. Up the main street, hands bound behind him in iron cuffs, blood still pulsing down his back as blisters formed on his wrists just to add insult to injury. He had avoided Gloria’s gaze as he was cajoled past his own modest house toward the cop shop, ashamed of his actions as she shielded their youngest child, Joe, from witnessing his father being whisked away for what would turn out to be the last time.

Months later, when he was sentenced to death by hanging, he requested - nay, demanded - that the police search the hotel room they had found him in for a photograph - the only photograph - of his mother, Betty, deceased just that last March, taken by Diphtheria - such an undignified end for the finest woman he had known. The cops laughed, saying they didn’t do favours for no filthy outlaws. Besides, they’d searched that room for any evidence, and there hadn't been so much as a skerrick of paper, let alone some prized photo. As he was hanged in the November, it wasn't the lifeless body of a nameless man he had stabbed in the alley for trying to force himself on Gloria which flashed before his eyes. No, it was the smiling face of Betty that filled the blackness behind his eyelid in his final moments, juxtaposed with the distraught face of Gloria watching the accidental love of her life moments from certain death. She had left the children at home so as to not subject them to more devastation and shelter them from this horrid reality. Something that was not honoured in subsequent generations as Gloria recounted that day in as much detail as humanly possible.

And now here I stood, the new proprietor of George’s Hotel, in the room that was my grandfather’s final freedom, crowbar in hand. I worked late into the night, jimmying up every last floorboard until a tiny white corner caught my eye, amongst a century of detritus including rat skeletons and grit and grime and dust. Heart pounding, I snatched at it, as though one more millisecond would cause the piece of paper to decompose in my hand. And as a 38 year old man, I finally looked deep into the eyes of my great grandmother, Betty Adams. After a century of family folklore, she'd finally come home.

Short Story

About the Creator

Renessa Norton

Enjoyed the story?
Support the Creator.

Subscribe for free to receive all their stories in your feed. You could also pledge your support or give them a one-off tip, letting them know you appreciate their work.

Subscribe For FreePledge Your Support

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

    Renessa NortonWritten by Renessa Norton

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.