This story is by Patricia Kolandai and was part of our 10th Anniversary Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“No go away! Leave me alone. Please someone help me. Steven, help me, Steven take them all away.”
Annabel heard her mother’s screams from her room. She couldn’t bear to hear them anymore. They were becoming more frequent. She ran alongside the stream and sat under the bridge covering her ears.
Her mother was never afraid of anything. When Annabel was younger she used to scream at night and it was her mother who always ran in.
“They are under the bed mummy, the big black monsters.” Annabel would cry out. Her mother would crawl under the bed, dragging those ugly monsters and throwing them out of the window.
“Don’t you come back and scare my baby Annabel,” she would say showing her fist at them.
Her mother would then lay with her until she fell asleep. Annabel remembered and loved the smell of sweet lavender.
But in the last seven months, it’s her mother who cries out about monsters lurking in the dark. How she wished her father was alive he could always make it better.
She told herself, “I will be with mummy tomorrow when Steven and the nurse are out.”
They did not like her spending time with her mother.
Five years after her father’s demise, her mother married Steven. She never liked him, but who was going to listen to a fifteen year old.
The next day, as soon as Steven and the nurse were out, she crept slowly into her mother’s room. She caught a waft of a strange smell circling the room. Where was that sweet Lavender? It was gone! She sat on her mother’s bed and held her hand, gently calling her. It was strange, how cold her hands felt.
“Mummy, mummy, it’s me Annabel. Can you wake up a little, please. It’s my birthday”
Her mother turned slightly and looked at her trying to give her a smile. Annabel had to fight back her tears.
“This is not my mummy,” she said to herself. She remembered her mother having the brightest face with rosy hues and a smile – the sweetest you have ever seen. Her eyes sparkled with laughter and kindness. Now before her lies, a woman with a face dull and lustreless; her eyes were dark, like she was caught between the realms of the real and the unreal. Her mother closed her eyes drifting to sleep.
Annabel left her mother’s room, running all the way to the solace of the stream.
“What have they done to her, what have they done to her? Oh mummy, my poor mummy” she cried bitterly to herself. She sobbed, wept and howled; she never felt so alone in all her life. She didn’t know how long she sat under the bridge but when she started back home, it was dark.
She stayed in her room for two days until Helen, her nanny, told her mummy had gone. Part of her was glad her mother didn’t suffer anymore, but part of her grieved, because she could not help her sooner. Helen informed her, Steven expects her to be downstairs ready for the funeral tomorrow.
At the cemetery, when everyone had gone, Annabel walked to her mother’s coffin.
“Come on Annabel, let’s go,” said Steven impatiently.
‘In a minute,” she snapped at him, glaring into his eyes. For a split second she saw a glimpse of fear.
“Hurry up, then.”
“Mummy I promise, I will find out what they did to you and I will give you justice. I promise. I will always love you and Daddy all my life. Till then.”
One month after her mother’s passing; Steven informed Annabel she was going to an exclusive boarding school and University up north where she could finish her education. She did not argue with him and thanked him for his generosity and concern.
On the day of her departure, she walked down to the stream to watch the cool water flow gently over the small rocks and stones. It was like a balm soothing her troubled soul.
As she turned to walk back, Henry her father’s trusted valet was walking towards her. Thinking, he was there to call her to hurry back she said “I’m coming Henry, Just saying farewell to an old friend.”
Henry stopped her in her tracks, handing over an envelope to her.
“Don’t ask me anything, Annabel, just take it. It’s from your father.” He pushed the envelope into her bag.
“Call me whenever you need me,”
“I will Henry, I will.”
When Annabel finally reached the school and settled in, she sat quietly on her bed and opened the envelope Henry had given her. She read the contents, committed it to memory and burnt the letter. Her father knew she had this gift; once she memorized something, she never forgot it.
Although Annabel did very well in school, she kept a very close watch over Steven. He managed to have Annabel’s mother transfer everything to his name. He now took over the company her parents built from scratch, married the so-called nurse and was living the life of the rich and famous.
Annabel kept a scrapbook of every newspaper or magazine article of Sophia, the nurse turned millionaire and Steven.
She completed her Doctorate in Chemical Engineering and traveled to Switzerland for a long awaited holiday. The day before she returned home, she called Henry to meet her at their favorite cafe. She had kept in touch with Henry and they had met several times in the past. Now he has his own security company and doing very well.
“Hello Annabel. You look as beautiful as your mother.” Henry commented with a big smile.
“Hello Henry. How are you?” She smiled and gave him a hug.
“I got this for you from Switzerland, but open it when you go home.” She said playfully.
“Henry the time has come to take back what belongs to me. I have an appointment with Mr. Wilson tomorrow at 10 am. Will you come with me?” she asked him.
“Of course I will. I will fetch you tomorrow at 9 am,” he confirmed.
Mr Wilson’s office was simple, neat and efficient. He had a secretary who showed them to his room.
“Dr Annabel Hastings, how good to finally meet you. Your father was so proud of you,” he said warmly. “And you must be Henry.”
“You are correct on both accounts,” Annabel replied.
“Your timing couldn’t be more perfect. Have you kept a watchful eye over your step-father, his wife and the business?” asked Mr Wilson.
At this point Annabel showed Mr Wilson her scrapbook.
“Ah! Your father was so right. You have been busy, I see. Are you aware he is heavy in debt?” asked Mr Wilson.
Annabel knew that this was the right time to claim her inheritance.
“Mr Wilson, yesterday was my birthday. I am twenty five now” explained Annabel.
Mr Wilson took an envelope from the safe and gave it to Annabel.
The document said the house was in Annabel’s name but she could only claim the house as hers when she is twenty five and her mother was not alive anymore.
Annabel wanted to sell the house and asked Mr Wilson to arrange a realty agent to put it up for sale.
Furthermore, her father had left her a huge sum of money and she knew it was time to buy back her company. Henry knew the right people to help her in this area. They left Mr Wilson’s office.
The next day she received a phone call.
“How dare you sell the house? It’s not yours to sell.” yelled Steven on the phone.
“Oh! But it is mine. My lawyers will send you the relevant documents. And Steven don’t be too comfortable as I am taking back my father’s company. I know how you poisoned my mother with the drugs your nurse administered to her on a daily basis. I have the drugs as there were staff in my mother’s household who were very loyal to her. One month after my mother’s death I had her body exhumed and a post-mortem was done which confirmed the drugs were in her system. I have all the documents and the proof. You forget, Steven, my father was a very popular and well-loved man. He treated his employees with respect so unlike you. I have proof on how you are embezzling funds from the company and cheating on the pension funds. I am giving you a chance for the simple reason my mother did love you although you betrayed her. So pack your things and go. My people will contact you regarding your shares. Just go!”
Henry took her to see her mother.
“Hello Mummy. Today is ten years since you have gone. As promised I took back the company. You always taught me to forgive others. Revenge is not mine but God’s. So rest in peace dearest Mummy. I am fine.”