This story is by Laura Eiras and was part of our 2018 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
He killed them, Officer, those missing girls I’d seen on the news. My darling boy, so quiet and reserved, so polite. “Yes Momma” or “No Momma” he’d say. I didn’t want to believe my eyes, but photos don’t lie. All those girls who disappeared were there, and girls no one’s mentioned. Did you know about them, Officer?
Those awful pictures in the book, each page had a shiny lock of hair attached, like a nasty souvenir—so many pages. I found it hidden under the floor in a hole. No, I wasn’t snooping. How dare you say that! Oh, you said searching? Not snooping? They mean the same thing Officer, don’t be rude.
He’d given me a key years ago. A momma should have a key to her boy’s house. I always took care of him. I was there to clean. Not that there was ever much to do. He’s such an orderly boy. A place for everything and everything in its place. I taught him that.
He was away on one of his trips. So many trips! I’m very proud of him you know. He loves his momma; he brings me flowers. I loved my son, Officer, that’s why I was there, to clean so that I could surprise him with a spotless house and a home-cooked meal.
I let myself in, put the groceries away, then vacuumed and dusted downstairs. I took a break, fixed a nice cuppa tea, watched my show, and went upstairs to finish. I vacuumed his bedroom rug, and it bunched up. You know how those pesky rag-rugs are. One of the floorboards moved when the rug shifted. Well, I had to investigate. That’s where I found the box.
No, I wasn’t snooping Officer. I already told you that. Loose boards can be dangerous, so of course I checked. But they were concealing something, hiding that box. Boys shouldn’t keep secrets from their mothers. The book was in the box. The beautiful book I’d given him years ago for his birthday. No wonder I never saw it. He said he’d misplaced it. He lied. . .he’d hidden it away.
How dare he put pictures of the horrifying things he’d done in the book I gave him. He wrote in it too, lovingly detailed descriptions of how they begged and pleaded. It made my heart ache. I loved him so. How could my precious boy do such things?
My son. A monster!
I don’t know what I did wrong, Officer, how I failed, but I had to stop him. I knew I should call, report my son and let the police take care of him. But what kind of mother allows someone else do that? Oh, my son, my son! How could you do this to me? I’d never see him again if you took him away. Never again take care of my precious boy. But how could I let him hurt more girls?
I recognized one of them you know. Suzy Harris. I’d always wondered what happened to Suzy. You didn’t know about her, did you? The first pages of the book were all about her. He’d had a crush on Suzy ever since grade school, but she never had time for my boy. ‘My perfect cheerleader,’ he called her. But did she ever see him? She only dated jocks. Never my darling boy. She spat on his devotion and went to Prom with that Wilson boy, the football team captain. Afterward, he wrote, ‘She said no.’ and ‘How dare she go with him!’
I remember when she disappeared. My boy was so happy—for a while. I thought it was odd at the time, but now I understand, she was finally his. She belonged to him, so he took her. He made her love him in the end. ‘Forever his!’ he wrote she told him, just before she died. Her death left a hole. It was like his sun went out.
I’m not sure why he killed the second girl. Maybe she reminded him of Suzy. Her hair was the same color, and she had an identical happy smile in her first picture. Too bad it was ruined in the end. She didn’t look anything like Suzy by then. Poor girl. I think her name was Sunshine. At least, that’s the name written under her first photo.
I’ve been so blind. All those business trips. ‘Work,’ he’d say, and I believed him. He was my son! A son shouldn’t lie to his mother. I was so cross with him. I had to do something at that moment, so I finished cleaning the house. I think best while I’m cleaning. I don’t know why, but I do. Maybe cleaning sweeps the cobwebs in my brain away too. It certainly swept away my indecision.
I picked up the phone to call 911 and turn him in. I was going to dial, Officer, I was! Don’t you believe me? But I didn’t, you’re right. I couldn’t do it. Couldn’t send my precious boy to jail—All those uncouth, nasty men; they might hurt him!—you’d put him in a tiny box. Oh, he wouldn’t like that, he hates small spaces.
And then he came home. I heard the front door slam, and I had to scurry. I hid the book and smoothed the rug into place. I didn’t need to see it. Those horrible pictures were burned into my brain. I’ll see them to my dying day. I knew what I had to do. It broke my heart, but I’d be strong, for my boy, even if it killed me in the end.
I walked downstairs and asked if he liked his surprise. ‘What surprise?’ he replied. ‘Your clean house, and your favorite meal,’ I told him, ‘but I haven’t cooked it yet. You came home early. I wasn’t expecting you so soon.’
He was excited. He’d killed again. I could tell, could see it on his hands. Bad boy! He hadn’t scrubbed his fingernails, and there was still blood under them. He hadn’t expected to find me here. He wanted me gone. He wanted his book.
My son didn’t look like a monster, but he was. I couldn’t let him kill again, so I had to do something, to save him from himself. I’m his mother. It’s my responsibility. ‘Go upstairs,’ I told him, ‘I’ll fix dinner.’
He was eager to go and rushed upstairs. I know the first thing he did was pull out his box. He probably put the new pictures in there right away, to keep them safe. I hoped I put everything back the way it was—he’d be angry if he knew I’d found them.
He wouldn’t harm me though. I’m his mother. He couldn’t hurt me!
No time to worry, I had dinner to prepare. His last supper. I’d brought the makings for his favorite meal, my home-made mac n’ cheese and roasted garlic parsnips. I started the mac n’ cheese baking in the upper oven and prepped the garlic, parsnips, and butter. All I needed were the last two items from outside.
I snipped a few sprigs of rosemary in the herb garden I’d made, but the special ingredient I needed wasn’t one I planted. I’d seen it growing along his back fence last week and admired the beautiful white flowers. I donned my gardening gloves and harvested the deadly weed. Fortunately, I never got around to warning my son about the devil’s flower he harbored in his backyard.
I came back inside to finish dinner. I chopped the rosemary, cut off the weed’s small white roots and discarded its purple-spotted stems. I washed and diced the roots, added them to the parsnips, tossed both with the garlic and melted butter, and roasted them in the lower oven. The final touch was to toss the roasted roots with the rosemary.
I called my son, and we ate. I didn’t have any of the roots I’d made, but then, he knew how I hated garlic. We laughed and talked, but I was weeping inside. I still loved my son Officer, even though I now knew he was a monster. I wouldn’t turn him in—I made that decision when I didn’t call—but I couldn’t let him hurt any more girls.
He had a second helping of the deadly roots. They began to take effect. He dropped his fork and laughed at how clumsy he was. His pupils dilated, and it became hard for him to breathe. I suggested he go to bed and helped him up the stairs as his legs failed. I stroked his hair and cried as he slipped into a coma and died.
Of course, I called afterward; you understand Officer, I can see the horror in your eyes. Killing is wrong, but I had to do it. He was my mess, so I cleaned it up.
He won’t hurt anyone now. I made them all safe. I made him safe. My darling. . .darling. . .boy.