by Patricia Shannon
Caroline watched the policeman as he walked towards their front door. He was tall, strong looking. A definite air of authority surrounded him. Soon he'd be knocking at their door. Mama would open it. She'd then find out why the policeman came to see them.
Caroline knew the reason. She'd been walking around with a terrible secret for a long, long time. It hadn't been easy, oh no! But she'd had no choice. Mama and Papa would never have understood if she'd told them. No, it was far better coming from the policeman.
The time was here to let the 'skeleton out of the closet'. Strangely enough, Caroline was at peace. The secret had been an awful burden and now she felt as if a heavy weight was about to be lifted from her shoulders.
The knock on the door was loud and forceful. She heard Mama walking from the kitchen to the door, which creaked as it opened.
“Good afternoon Ma'am,” she heard the policeman say. “I was wondering whether I could have a word.” The door closed and many words were spoken in the hallway. At one point, Caroline heard Mama respond in agony: “Oh my God! What has she done!” Then Mama started to weep.
Caroline looked at the postcard in her hand. The last news received from her brother Charles, saying that, after a long absence abroad, he was on his way home. It wouldn't be right. She couldn't let that happen. He wasn't supposed to come home yet.
Why Caroline felt that way, Charles would never know. His return ended with a blow to the head that killed him instantly, when he walked home from the train station. A tramper eventually found his body.
The living room door opened. Caroline was ready.
She rehearsed the words in her head over and over again. She knew exactly what to say.
First Mama entered the room, followed by the policeman. He looked even more powerful
up-close. Mama looked very sad. Her eyes were red and still filled with tears. Caroline was
motionless, unrelenting. The policeman approached her.
“Miss Caroline Walker, I presume?” He asked. She nodded in confirmation, unaffected by
emotions, no regrets, no sorrow, no fear. Her soul was dry, her heart empty.
“I need to ask you a few questions in relation to the death of your brother Charles!”
The policeman continued. He looked at her. His bright blue eyes seemed to see right
through her. She didn't care.
“You don't seem to be very shocked or surprised by my question,” he said. “I therefore
conclude you already are aware of his death? Am I right Miss Caroline?”
She didn't respond. Not yet. “Miss Caroline?” The policeman asked again.
She still kept tight-lipped. “Fine, have it your way. We found your fingerprints on the
murder weapon. So we are quite sure that you're responsible for your brother's death.
If you have anything to say in your defense, now would be a good time!” He said firmly.
Then, there it was! The moment Caroline had been waiting for! With tears in her eyes,
Mama spoke and pleaded with her. Please Caroline, tell me they are wrong. Tell me it
isn't true! That it's all just a terrible mistake!”
Mama anxiously waited for an explanation. Slowly, Caroline began to speak the words
that she had rehearsed. “Dear Mama! Where have you been all these years? Don't you
understand? It was always about Charles. Charles was so clever. Charles was so handsome.
Charles would have a great career. Charles this, Charles that! Never ever a good word for
or about me! Until Charles went abroad! Suddenly I got your attention. For the first time
in my life, you appreciated me. You shared your ups and downs with me. It was such a
wonderful feeling Mama. I couldn't let him steal the limelight away from me.
I love you Mama. That's why I did what I did. Charles never felt a thing. We can all be
at peace now Mama.. It's all going to be all right!” Caroline smiled, pleased with her oration.
Both Mama and the policeman were lost for words. Mama stared out the window, crying
The policeman took Caroline by the arm and lead her outside, into the waiting police car.
Caroline continued to smile. She waved at Mama. Surely Mama would understand one day
and be grateful for what she did.