“Do you expect me to kill my father?”
“Corrine, your marriage is illegal. We can’t make a claim for any money from Christopher’s estate. Accept that. You married your half-uncle knowingly. Soon the law will be at your heels, the media and everyone will know, your children will know! I beg you to save yourself. Write to your parents and let them help you. Beg them if you have to, but save yourself and your children from that humiliation. You’ll be dragged through court proceedings, and could possibly lose custody of your children,” pleaded my lawyer, Mr, Dandridge.
Oh God, my babies. My poor babies.
No, I couldn’t. I couldn’t possibly ask my parents to help. They would never. “Isn’t there anything else we can do,” I pleaded, knowing just how desperate the situation was getting. I didn’t have any money. We couldn’t afford our basic living expenses. I couldn’t access Christopher’s and my joint account. There wasn’t any petty cash left. Everything we owned was going to belong to Chris’s sole living relative, his half-brother…my father, Malcolm. Once again my father had me trapped, had me on my knees begging for mercy. I’m pleading like a slave. It’s all my father’s fault! Oh how he must have gloated, knowing that his brother was now dead and gone. It isn’t enough he made my life a living hell as a child, but now, even as a grown woman, my father still managed to ruin whatever happiness I had found. Oh, how I hate you, Malcolm Neal Foxworth! He did this! Him! It’s all his fault! Even in my thirties, I’m reduced to a child again.
“Corrine, you’ve got to make a decision. What’s it going to be,” asked Mr. Dandridge. Weakly I nodded, agreeing to his plan. What else could I do? How else was I going to save my family? Several times over I wrote the letter, but I just couldn’t find the words. I just couldn’t. What could I say to them? How could I convince them to be merciful? I decided the only way I had a chance of accomplishing this was by writing from my heart. I would plead with them and hope that, now that they’re older and without any heirs, they’d be forgiving. I tried to convince myself of this, but I knew better. Pride was the only thing my parents ever felt. They’d not want the shame of a court trial and my revelation spread all across the newspapers. The Foxworth’s are proud, proud people. Foxworth’s like all scandal to be kept quiet. Perhaps blackmail might work. A few weeks later, I received the letter. I was so relieved, I couldn’t help but cry.
My mother agreed to help us, but she warned me that my father couldn’t possibly know of the children, as they were the Devil’s issue! My father didn’t know about the children? Devil’s issue?! She’d hide my children, keep them safe, until I could inherit.
Carefully, I sat down and schemed. I’d conceal my children somewhere safe in Foxworth Hall, until I could find a safe haven for them. Once that was in place, I’d sneak them out, change their identities, keep them safe.
My father is ill. As soon as I got him to write me into his will and he died, the old man is on his death bed, it would all fall into place.
My father owes me that money, he owes me for all the suffering he put me through! My children will not grow up in poverty. Chris will become a doctor. Cathy a dancer, maybe. And my twins, too, will have the best. My children will not be denied.
But once I get the money, I have to tell them to hide the truth, to keep quiet that I’m their mother. I have their birth certificates sewn into the suitcase ready to change their identities. I can’t let society know their humiliation. They’ll suffer.
“Do you expect me to kill my father?”
“And what of your children upstairs? You thought I didn’t know, did you? But I do! You brought this evil to my house,” he screamed wildly. “My house! You and that man, you both lived to spite me, but I’ll make sure your children are kept in a cage, like animals! They’ll never again see the outside world! You thought you could sneak them out, didn’t you? But I know your plans and you’ll never outwit me, Corrine!” He knew! Oh God, what do I do now? He knew! But how? And then I looked at my mother and I knew…that wicked old witch!
“No, you lie! I don’t believe you,” I cried out, but it was there in black and white, in Chris’s own handwriting. Oh God, no…no…no, this wasn’t happening. But I knew, I knew.
“Corrine, you stupid, stupid girl, didn’t you know you married your own half -brother? You were always a stupid a girl, but your half-brother knew. He has always known. Look at your children. They know they’re brother and sister, and yet look at the way they look at each. You can tell from the sin in their eyes,” she gloated triumphantly. “My children are innocent. They’re just children,” I whispered weakly. My children are innocent. Oh God, let them be innocent!
“I’ll show you how innocent they are. You’ll see!” Oh God, did she hate me this much? I now know I wasn’t her own true daughter, but she is the only mother I’ve ever known. The only one. This was too cruel. Oh Chris, how could you betray me? I loved you. I trusted you. You knew, and yet you let me live this lie for so many years. How cruel! You knew, and still we had children! Our children are now paying for what we’ve done. You should have told me! How could you not? I loved you! I trusted you! You betrayed me!
I felt whatever love I had for my husband slip away.
Now there was just Bart. With Bart I could feel clean, I could start all over again. He was young. I wanted to be young again and wipe away all my mistakes. Foolishly, I denied Bart, holding on to the memory of my first love, wanting to be true. But what love is true when it’s based on a lie?
If Chris truly loved me, he would have told me the truth. And what of my children? Oh my God, they’ll see the pain in my eyes. They’ll see my horror. I couldn’t bear to face my children. Whenever I was with them, would they see my guilt? Would they see I could no longer bear to look at them, that I no longer wanted to be their mother?
I wanted to forget what I had done, the crime terrible I’d committed, because once upon a miserable time I was hurting so badly inside that I sought the solace of my half-uncle.
I thought I was right then, but I was a stupid little girl playing adult games, thinking, ‘If I can get pregnant, I will have him and my father’s money too. Then my father will hurt. He’ll pay for all he did to me.’ I have been so stupid!
My love for Chris was dead, he betrayed me in the most heinous way imaginable. I couldn’t look at his children anymore.
“Do you expect me to kill my father?”
How could Chris and Cathy do this? They know they’re brother and sister. Their father and I didn’t back then, but they know.
Oh God, she made me watch the whole thing. She made me see it. I felt sick. It must be Cathy. It must be my own daughter. Christopher wouldn’t do this, he loved me! She has always hated me, she must hate me so much to do this…to seduce her own brother and turn him against me.
Another voice whispered, but I did the same. All these thoughts ran rampant
through my mind, as I carefully prepared the arsenic sugar once again….another dose. This is only way. Too late to turn back now. Too late. I’ll save them this way. I’ll save them this way. I began a slow hum.
Hush little baby, don’t say a word. Momma’s gonna buy you a mocking bird, and if that mockingbird don’t sing…
All your fault, Malcolm Neal Foxworth. All your fault! It’s too late! I’ve already started. I’ve already killed my own father, because he killed what’s best in me first.
He killed me first!
Written by Neisha Chetty
Based on a collaboration of theories by Neisha Chetty , Lorraine Elgar, Andrew Neiderman, Lulabel Johnson, Toni Persutti , Corine Robles and Kathryn Klein in Story Form