Poor Izzy was a beautiful woman, inside and out. I met her when I was 11 years old. She was in Pitsea, a town in Essex in the UK. I was a kid to which kindness was a stranger, and she was kind to me.
I walked up to her and told her I was lost. She crouched down to my level and asked my name. She might have had some Trinidadian heritage; her voice had a soft lilt. She held my hand as she stood up and looked around, just in time to see my stepdad Colin and his friend, Guy, come running up.
"Ruth! There you are!"
Now that sounds like a sweet little story, but no, it wasn't. Because Colin had offered to take me for the day to give my Mum some peace. Well, that's what he told her. He and Guy had made a plan. He told me to go to Izzy and tell her I was lost. I didn't know why I had to lie. Adults were confusing. I did as I was told...
Colin smiled and thanked poor Izzy. He asked her name; it was long and not one we had heard of before. When we all looked puzzled, she shortened it for us to Izzy.
Colin offered to take Izzy to the local cafe for a cup of tea to say thank you for "finding" me. She was still holding my hand as we walked up the steps to the little blue and white cafe. We went in and drank tea; Colin and Guy chatted nicely with Izzy for a while.
If I had known what would happen next, I would have warned my new friend. I would have told her to get away, to run, whatever it took. But I didn't know. I was just a kid.
Poor Izzy said she had to go. Time was ticking by. Colin immediately offered her a lift home, and she accepted. They had become friendly; they had established trust.
Colin drove his car. I don't remember what they talked about. They didn't go the way Izzy told them, though, and Colin said they had to pop into Guy's flat. I don't know what happened when they opened the car door, but I remember them bundling her up the stairs to Guy's flat. They flung her into the bedroom and shouted at her to stay still. She hit her head on the headboard, and it made her wobbly.
I was given a colouring book and a red furry pencil case with some felt pens. The colouring book was brand new, and I was thrilled. I eagerly opened the pencil case and started colouring. The first pen worked, but the second one was useless. That was when I looked up and saw Colin on top of Izzy.
I knew about sex, and I knew they were having sex. But I didn't know about consent. I was also trained to not question adults and to be obedient always. I wish I could have started shouting and yelling that it was wrong and to stop it. But I didn't do that. If I had working felt pens I wouldn't have seen it, I would have been busy colouring.
Colin had his hands around Izzy's throat as he continued. Izzy was fighting back as much as she could, her hands like claws attacking him. The Hounds of Hell couldn't have fought harder against him, but her arms were moving more slowly now. Slower still, she couldn't struggle any more. While Colin was still over her, he killed Izzy.
"You weren't supposed to kill her!" Guy screamed at Colin when he realised what he'd done. Her life was over. But they had new problems now.
Dear Reader, I suppose Colin and Guy planned to dispose of poor Izzy's body. I am sure they phoned a friend, made something to eat, and got themselves prepared. Maybe, they walked her down the stairs to the car, talking about carpets, trying to hide the fact they were moving a body.
I remember being in Colin's car, parked beside a forest. There was a river with a wall beside it. We had just crossed a little stone bridge and parked up. There was another car, a Volvo, which I recognised. It was one of Colin's pedophile friend's car; I think his name was Gerry.
Colin and Guy got out of the car. "Don't look round!" I was sternly instructed. Of course, I looked. There, on the floor, was poor Izzy. She looked very different. Her eyes were bulging, and her tongue was sticking out; it looked too big for her mouth. Her hair, previously slicked back, was sticking out in triangles like those awful old-fashioned black dolls. And her beautiful brown skin looked purple in the dark of night in the car headlights.
Her body was wrapped in a red sheet. I recognised it from Guy's bed. She was also wrapped in an old rug I hadn't seen for a while - it had once lived on the floor of my Mum's bedroom in our old house.
I looked away, and when I turned back, they had all gone. I was alone.
A little girl, alone, in a car in a forest.
My heart beat fast as I sat there, not knowing where they had gone and when they would return. I started to cry and rolled into a ball on the back seat. Mercifully, I fell asleep.
My friend, it takes one gravedigger four hours to dig a grave. How long did it take three inexperienced men? An hour and a half, maybe? They must have taken off their shoes and socks, their trousers. Izzy was gone for good now.
They came back to the car and drove onto the bridge. They stopped and dragged me out of the back. They forced my tired little self to look over the bridge, into the churning black water, swirling down the river.
"If you tell, we'll throw you in there!"
Colin and I arrived home. Colin walked into the lounge, and I heard Mum shout:
"Where have you been? It's gone 10 o'clock!"
"We were listening to music. We lost track of time."
I didn't want to have to answer any questions, so I slipped to my bedroom, straight to bed. Before I shut my door, I heard him say he was going for a shower. He hadn't looked dirty; there was no sign of his crimes. His trousers, shoes and socks looked normal. Clever.
That's it. A successful murder.
I know you probably think: 'Why didn't you go to the police?' Well, in the UK, recovered memories are not considered evidence. I have something called Disassociative Amnesia, which means I forget traumatic events. My brain dumps them in my subconscious, and there they stay. I experienced this in 1978; I remembered it in 2020. I'm still sad.
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