“Mrs. Mbate, we are sorry to say this, but your daughter Annie was found dead in her home early this morning,” the man with the beard was first to speak up. She dropped the cup she was holding as the younger policeman helped her to a chair. “We think your son-in-law Leon is responsible,” She sat there with tears rolling down her cheeks. She knew Leon was bad news from the start. He had put so many ideas in Annie’s head, turned her against her parents. The police asked a few questions and left, leaving her there to think about her daughter.
She should have called her husband, but she knew he would only get angry. He never got along with Annie; her death would mean little to him. So she sat and thought about Annie. She didn’t know who to call; she had a few friends but they knew nothing about Annie’s life. They talked once in a while but never about personal matters. Their talks always ended in arguments. She wished she had apologized to Annie. Begged her to come home and fix things.
The sound of the phone ringing brought her out of her thoughts. It was one of Annie’s co-workers, he was calling to inform her of the funeral arrangement s they had made. She took down the information. Grateful that someone else was in charge of it. She wondered if her husband Tommy would want to go for the church service. She didn’t care, she would go on her own and say goodbye to her daughter.
Her husband came home late that night and found her staring into space. He knew about the murder, the police had stopped by his office. He didn’t talk to her; he had his dinner and went to bed. Annie’s death was not his problem. She had been a thorn in the side since he married her mother. Always putting ideas in her head. She was trouble, and he knew she would get what was coming eventually.
When he woke up the next morning, he found his wife gone. He knew she was at the church; he had been called at work. He couldn’t be bothered to attend. He knew no one would believe he was sorry she was gone. He felt no sorrow. He got dressed and left for work feeling happier than usual.
Annie’s mother got back from church depressed. All the nice things she had heard about Annie had confused her. She didn’t know her daughter anymore. People had talked about how she was an angel, how her marriage with Leon was filled with joy. It didn’t fit the picture she had of them all this years. She needed air, her thoughts were suffocating her.
She opened the back door and walked to the yard and bumped into the trash can. As she stared at the trash frustrated that it was in her way, she saw it. A letter addressed to her in Annie’s handwriting. But she hadn’t received any letter. She picked it up and read it. It read:
I know you will be angry. But I can’t keep quiet anymore. I shall be going to the police tomorrow. Tommy has to pay for everything he did to me as a child. You will have to testify. I hope for once you will put your daughter before him. He hurt me and you sat and watched all those years. You owe me to have him pay for it.
It was dated two days before she died. She knew who had opened her letter. She looked at the letter one last time and walked to the fireplace and burnt it. Their secret was safe once again.
Annie was right, she always knew about the abuse, but she protected her husband. No one could know about it. Even in death, she refused to stand by her daughter.