Family Lies Chapter 21: Discovery

Drawing of a partly-built brick wall with a sign saying: "Under construction." Caption reads: "Work in progress."

Family Lies Chapter 21: Discovery chapter of work in progress by Iris Carden

It was strange to be back in her old childhood home, but Emily was determined to be here to find out the truth first hand. Jessica accompanied her.

Detective Carstairs had made them stay on the verandah of the house. With them was the current homeowner, a woman named Mary.  Mary was very stressed, as police started to remove roses from the garden, to operate the ground penetrating radar machine.

“I’ll pay for any restoration needed,” Emily said to Mary.  “My gardener, Josh, is a miracle worker.  If the roses can be saved, he’ll save them.  Otherwise, I can buy you new ones.”

“I don’t think I even want to live here any more, if there is a body there,” Mary answered. “If I’ve been living with a body in my back yard all this time, what does that say about me?”

“The same as it says about me all the years I lived here. It says you didn’t know. If you don’t feel you can live here, I’m happy to give you the current value of the house, so you can move somewhere else.”

“So you’d buy the house your father was killed in?”

“No, I’d just give you the money.  You could still have the house, sell it, rent it out, whatever.  I wouldn’t want to deal with it.  I’ll just make it easier for you to do whatever you need to do from here.”

Mary sat quietly, seeming to think about the offer.

Emily focussed her attention back on the yard she had played in throughout her childhood, and at the rose garden her mother had so carefully tended for so many years. There were two people operating the machine, one pushing it over the ground, another looking at a monitor.  The man at the monitor called out to the one pushing the machine to stop. Then pointed out something on the monitor to Detective Carstairs.  She nodded, then walked back to the house.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “We’ve found something.  It looks like human remains.”

Emily tried to hold back the tears, as she asked: “What will happen to my mother?”

“No court is going to consider her fit to stand trial,” Jessica said helpfully.

Detective Carstairs added, “I don’t think she’ll go to trial, but I’ll have to check with my superiors, and probably with the crown prosecutor. We might have to charge her, if so, it would be up to the court. I’m with Ms Flowers on this one.  I can’t see any court forcing someone with advanced dementia to go to trial. We still have to go through with the investigation. Once it’s over, you can decide if you’re claiming your father’s remains for a proper burial or cremation. Probably all this means is that one very old mystery is solved, and we can stop looking for Henry Clark.”

“All these years, and he was only ever missed by a girl he’d brainwashed, and her son who she’d told lies to for his whole life. It’s sad, really,” Emily said. 

“I need to get a tech to take a swab from your for DNA, just to be certain this was your father,” Detective Carstairs said.

“In case my mother buried someone else under her roses?” Emily asked.

“Well, yes.  We can’t just assume things.  After all the confession she gave you is doubtful, and we’re not likely to get her to repeat it on the record.”

Emily nodded, and agreed to the mouth swab. She was utterly exhausted. Somehow she’d hoped they’d find nothing there, that she hadn’t the first twenty years of her life living next to the body of her “missing” father.

Before they left, Jessica gave a business card to Mary, and said to call when she’d decided what she wanted to do.

* * *

The fatigue hit on the car ride home.  Every part of Emily’s body felt as if it was dead weight.  Her stomach started to have the uncertain feeling that she was going to disgorge its contents in both directions.

Jenny met them in the driveway with the wheelchair.

“How did you know I’d need it?” Emily asked, as she collapsed into it. She had no energy to say anything more as she was whisked to her bedroom, medicated and tucked in.

* * *

Emily was woken by a call from Reg Jackson, who wanted to upgrade her security further until Henry junior was found.

In a haze, Emily told him to go ahead and do whatever he thought was necessary, she didn’t care what it cost. She found the mental energy to tell him she wanted to pay for the funeral of the security person who had died, and to give some money to his family.

Hitting “end” on the call, she fell back into her pillow, and was immediately asleep. 

Her sleep was troubled with dreams of roses, of bodies, of explosion, and shadowy men trying to terrorise her. 

Some time in that long, weird, pain and fear filled, night, she decided to tell Josh to remove all the roses from her garden.

Chapters of Family Lies

Note, this is the first draft. What eventually is published as a book (if it is published as a book), will be edited, rewritten, and re-edited, and may not have much in common with this first draft.

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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