TRIUMPH OVER EVIL

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Chapter 52

Bruno inserted the key gently into the lock and eased open the door. Even though he could hear the faint sound of music coming from upstairs, he was prepared to run, to escape. His hand still gripped the open door’s handle.

He gave a wry smile at the thought of his presence being undetected. If they only knew that I’m here to claim what’s mine, he thought, as the music infiltrated to the vestibule.

Knowing his undertaking was almost fait accompli; he closed the door and stepped quietly, but quickly, to Sophia’s door. Pressing his ear hard against it, he listened. Nothin’, he thought, before glancing up to the soft glow of light showing from under Katherine’s door. Stepping gingerly to the basement entrance, he extracted a black pencil-torch from his coat pocket, then cautiously opened the door. By using his right hand as a guide and hugging the wall, he descended the wooden steps into the torch-lit gloom. He took extreme care not to allow the wooden stairs to creak, but on reaching the basement floor, one thing became abundantly apparent, the chilled air.

Shit! It’s cold down here. If I stay here too long I’ll need somethin’ else to keep me warm. What I’ve got on won’t be enough.

Shining the torch to the room’s far end, he saw some old used bedsheets covering an assortment of old equipment.

They’ll have to do, he thought, as he threw the old sheets over his head and shoulders. With having flashed the torch around the windowless room, again, he turned his attention to the old equipment. The old ceramic sink, an assortment of cutting implements, oversized mincer, stainless steel benchtop, and disused elongated chest freezer suggested, to him, the items belonged to a butcher.

Fuckin’ hell! These might come in handy.” He then began pacing the concrete floor, back and forth, slapping arms and chest, trying to stimulate some heat into his upper body.

Fuck this! Bad luck if they’re awake, I’m gettin’ out of here,” he mumbled, as he glanced at his watch. One a.m. “It feels like I’ve been here forever!” With the musk-smelling old sheets deposited onto the cold floor, he made his way from the basement, and just as cautiously, proceeded to the upper landing.

No evidence of light came from under the door, and the music had ceased.

Why is it so fuckin’ cold? he thought, as his body still tremored. Although the ambient temperature was higher than that of the basement, he felt otherwise.

The time for inserting the key into the lock had come. Bruno’s face was almost touching the door when he felt a warm draft brush against his pant legs as it flowed from under the door. It was just the inducement needed.

With the door slightly ajar, the apartment’s warmth introduced itself immediately. God, that feels good!

The chill in his body began to subside, giving way to the warmth. The longer he stood in the darkened doorway, the better he felt.

Securely locking the door ensured no one enclosed within the apartment would leave, not without the assistance of a key, and his permission.

He removed his cap, gloves, and coat, then placed them on the arm of the couch. As he sat in the darkness, his indifference to the two older women came to the fore. “I’m goin’ to have some fun with them!” he said, with vengeance his intent.

As he cast the torch’s light around the kitchen, a dishtowel hanging from a wall rack grabbed his attention. So did a set of car keys lying on the sideboard. Attached to the ring, along with a car key, was a door key. I can’t let them get their hands on these, he thought, as he placed the ring into the top drawer. He pulled the dishtowel from the rack and shoved into his left hand pocket of his pants.

Besides his size and strength, he had an added advantage over the occupants, one of surprise, and securing his identity on this occasion was not an issue. Like a hunter, he had stalked. With his victims caught in the glare of the torch light, no escape was possible.

With the torch illuminating her face, as she lay blanket-covered on her back, Barbara appeared snug and warm. For a briefest of moments, he imagined himself lying beside her and feeling her warmth.

Is that a light? Barbara thought, as she struggled to wake. The events of the last few weeks were taking their toll. Mental exhaustion was setting in.

I have her where I want her. If I’m quick, it’ll be over before she knows it.

Barbara’s eyelids flickered, just as his right fist struck her left temple. Bruno waited briefly, before leaning forward and slapping her cheek, lightly. “She won’t wake up for a while.” By using the top bedsheet and a blanket, he rolled her until she lay similar to a cocooned silkworm. To ensure her silence, one end of the dishtowel extracted from his pocket he pressed into her mouth.

That’ll keep her quiet. With no distinct thought in mind, he glanced at the open door. I can’t leave her here. I don’t want anyone seein’ her. In one angry pull, she fell to the floor, between the bed and doorway.

Leaving her bedroom door partially open, he slid his boots tentatively across the carpet’s surface until he was standing near the Katherine’s bedroom. With darkness his ally he waited, his back to the wall.

As he looked in the direction of the third bedroom with its wide open door, the thought of victory generated a sense of euphoria. Not far now!

This is goin’ to be easy. He was being cautious in not wanting to forewarn the room’s occupants, but a surprise awaited him. Where’s the others?

The room’s only occupant was Sophia.

His immediate reaction was to place his right hand, quickly, over the torch’s glass, to diminish the light. She should be downstairs!

As he took in her silhouette, he chose to strike while the opportunity was fresh. He lay on the carpet and slid snake-like towards the bed. If she wakes, she won’t see me until it’s too late. Not once did he allow his vision to stray from her face. His movements were purposely slow and methodical.

Like Barbara’s, her exposed face was his target, and only when in arm’s reach did he rise to a kneeling prayer-like position beside the bed. Although, this wasn’t a godly mission, it was sinister. He waited for her to respond to the torch’s stark bright light shining onto her face. On, and off, on, and off, it went. The light appeared, then disappeared.

“Remember me?” he whispered, as a pair of startled wide eyes showed themselves. Even without the spoken words he was in no doubt she knew he had returned, to strike again. In a fraction of a second his right fist slammed sledgehammer like onto her right temple.

Again, he was quiet with his movements as he wrapped her, as he had Barbara. Satisfied by his endeavour thus far, he sneakily crept along the hall until he was facing Katherine’s room. With the torch in his left hand, and its light deliberately beamed to the floor, he turned the doorknob ever so slowly with his free hand. Once he had eased open the door, he took great care not to wake her.

She looks peaceful. She looks like an angel.

Her small feet protruding from under the blanket was his signal. She needs taking care of! He reached down and gently recovered them with the blanket. “The first part’s over. Now for the fun!” he murmured, as sat in the armchair. The words were also a way of commending himself.

Knowing the importance of continuing with his search, he decided to leave Katherine as she was, so he proceeded to the last of the bedrooms. With the torch ablaze, he glanced inside, but it was as expected; empty. Having unlocked the apartment door, he descended the stairs, but caution was still a priority. They must have gone. With the search of Sophia’s apartment had proved fruitless, a sense of relief surged through him. Now I can do what I fuckin’ want and no one can stop me! I wonder what she owns. The fuckin’ cops stopped me from lookin’ ’round before.

With a disappointing rummage still in mind he began to ascend the staircase, but an unexpected sound from his rumbling stomach led him to say, “I gotta eat.” His mind then fast-forwarded to his hostages. “I’ll need plenty of energy.” The kitchen awaited.

It was not long before a mid-sized pot of soup from the fridge, with some added cut mushrooms, was heating on the stove.

Suddenly, Katherine began to stir. His first instinct was to turn the kitchen light off, hurriedly. He expected her to emerge from the bedroom at any moment.

What am I fuckin’ doin’? I’m in charge here.” With the light on, he returned to his cooking.

The aroma coming from soup was tantalizing, so dunking a handful of chunky bread into its liquid was almost mandatory.

“This’s delicious . . . it’s good!”

Intrigued, by the bottles of unopened red wine displayed on a shelf, he thought, I wonder what they taste like. I should try one. Knowin’ the Harris’s, they’d be expensive.

He a long stem glass and gulped his first ever drink of grape juice. “Not bad! This’s the way to live. I like it. Women, food, and wine. This’ll take some beatin’. Who wants anythin’ else?”

As he neared the end of the soup, the feeling in his groin began to dictate his next pleasure, Barbara. “She’s goin’ to wish she was dead by the time I’ve finished with her.” He chuckled at the thought.

With his words resounding in his brain, he walked into the living room and undressed, except for his boxer shorts.

His strewn clothes lay across the couch’s arm, with boots splayed on the carpet, when he walked from the room. His arousal was also on full display.

He pushed both thumbs into the sides of his boxer shorts elastic top and began to slide them down as he looked at Barbara’s wrapped and prone body.

I’m not in a fuckin’ hurry. I’ve got all night. I’ll have some more wine. Once I’ve had her, I’m not stoppin’ until they’re all done.”

As the last vestiges of wine disappeared into his stomach, from bottle pressed to his mouth, Bruno was in no doubt he was in serious trouble. He released his hold on the empty bottle just prior to gripping his stomach with both hands. The impact of it hitting the tiled floor and possibly announcing his presence received no thought. As the excruciating pain ripped into his abdomen, he emitted a loud groan, and doubled over, before dropping to his knees. The vomit began to splutter from his mouth, but in quick succession, it became a blood-infused projectile, and as it continued, a bubbly-foam began to accumulate at the corners of his mouth. Watery-brown excreta was exploding from within his boxer shorts, to begin its journey down his legs. The sewer-infested river had arrived, and so had the stench. With arms wrapped tightly around his seizure-ridden body, so his legs kicked wildly outward. As they struck the lowboy, his timid call for help was vomit choked.

Katherine heard the noise in her sleep, woke, and went to see who or what was causing the commotion?

It must be coming from the kitchen, she thought, at seeing a glow of light emanating into the hall. Shuffling sleepily, she began to make her way down the hall, but only an empty bed was visible as she passed her mother’s room. She must be in the kitchen.

Katherine’s screaming continued unabated. Discovering a near-naked convulsing figure on the floor was not what she was expecting. Instinctively, she covered her mouth and nose with her right hand. The sight of the confronting scene and the revulsion of overpowering putrid smell caused her reflex action.

Screaming hysterically she ran, but bypassed her mother’s room in search of her grandmother. Another shock was to befall her, a blanket-wrapped and gagged grandmother. As she proceeded with the unravelling, she yelled Sophia’s name, to try to rouse her. Slapping her mother’s face also had no effect. Along with the disturbing visual images she was encountering, fear now controlled her mind. The thought of the stranger appearing in the doorway induced her to vomit onto the blankets that had housed her grandmother. Wiping her right-arm pyjama sleeve across her mouth, and with eyes releasing rivers of tears, she rushed fearfully to her mother’s bedroom, but a duplication of Sophia’s situation presented itself. Even though she managed to unfurl her mother, like her grandmother, she, too, remained unconscious.

Only then, did Katherine realise why he had returned? “He’s going to rape me again!

She refused to let her gaze wander from the open doorway as she rose to her feet, but a chilled perspiration had suddenly covered her entire body.

Somebody help me please!” she shrieked.

As she stood just within the bedroom’s doorway, with her back to the wall, she tried to strain her hearing for the merest sound of the intruder’s footsteps. Only a gurgle she could hear. With her fear at an explosive level, she ran to the front door, but Bruno had guaranteed, no key, no escape.

She now likened herself to a caged frightened animal.

She crept to the kitchen’s doorway, but Bruno’s convulsing had diminished, and the intensity of his shaking arms and kicking legs. Tentatively, with one hand again covering her mouth and nose, she stepped closer. He was muttering.

Is he the one who raped me? She took a closer look. It is him! It’s him! Suddenly, she was reliving her rape. The sight of the old scars on his upper left arm were verification.

Help! Please help me,” he begged, with a gurgle to his voice, at seeing Katherine. His vomit had caused a distortion to his words. If anyone’ll help me, she will. She’ll save me.

With the lower half of her face still hand-covered Katherine hurried around the kitchen table, but at all times never let her eyes waver from his body. Although Bruno was now opposite to where she stood, she was still fearful he would suddenly rear up and attack her.

No. Please, no.” Katherine said, as her heart beat hard against her inner ribcage. She was imagining it exploding. She opened the large lower drawer housing some of their cookware.

With both hands now gripping the handle of a heavy-based skillet, she stepped cautiously in Bruno’s direction, but suddenly, she became aware of fear having disappeared.

Bruno knew he was dying, of that, he had no doubt, so his desire to see her one last time gave him the strength to roll from being on his side, to lying flat on his back. Obscuring her face was the skillet’s base.

It was heading down, about to collide with his face.

Unafraid, she had knelt close. The exhilaration she felt when witnessing his eyes opening wide, as the skillet was about to hit its impact point, she thought as indescribable. As his blood flowed freely, she continued to inflict her merciless retribution.

As tears became streams she continued to strike, but her words described her feelings, “I’m not afraid of you! Do you hear me? I’m not afraid of you!

As she expended all her energy into each strike, she discovered her courage increased the more she struck.

The outpouring of hatred Katherine had put into making sure no-one saw that face again, at least not in the way God intended, left her completely exhausted. She wasn’t to know he would have died regardless of her endeavors.

Sophia’s brain was pounding with the sound of a thousand drums, so she thought. As she scrambled from her bed, the sensation of being in a spinning room should have been ample warning. She took extreme care with attempting to stand, but, when able, her immediate reaction was to scurry to Katherine’s room.

No!” she screamed. With a dark empty room greeting her, she assumed the worst. Like a moth to a flame, she rushed into the lit kitchen, even though her brain was signalling it was ready to burst from her skull.

The sight of Katherine, blood-splattered from head to knees, kneeling beside a disfigured male, caused her to come to an abrupt halt. Although the man’s identity was unknown, she suspected it to be Bruno. If it’s him, he deserves to be dead!

Besides the dead man on their kitchen floor, another situation was glaringly obvious. She had to rid Katherine of any evidence that could implicate her, so showering her was an urgent requirement.

“You need to take your clothes off! I’ll help you. Stand Up!” Once Katherine stood, Sophia quickly removed the blood-splattered pyjamas from her body. “Whatever you do, don’t move!”

Katherine’s fixed gaze appeared void of any emotion as she looked directly ahead.

Sophia scurried to the kitchen sink and extracted two clean dishtowels from a drawer. One she soaked in warm water, the other remained dry.

“I’m just going to give you a quick wipe. We can’t get any blood onto the carpet.” As she proceeded to cleanse Katherine, she thought, the less evidence the better.

“Stay in the shower, do you hear me? Stay here until I come back. Don’t get out!” Sophia said command like, as Katherine sat on the shower floor. Sophia had rotated the showerhead slightly to ensure warm water flowed over her granddaughter’s head and body. “Do exactly as I tell you. Stay here!” She had to find Barbara.

It was only as she ran to Barbara’s room did her pounding brain become more evident. “I need some painkillers, but they’ll have to wait,” she muttered. She soon discovered Barbara lying on the floor beside the bed, unwrapped and unconscious. Lifting the deadweight Barbara onto the bed was not easy, but she managed. “Christ! I need an ambulance.” There was an urgency to her words, but she instinctively knew the phone call would have to wait. “I have to dispose of the body first. I have to hide it until the paramedics have come and gone.”

A double dose of painkillers swilled around in her stomach as she shuffled from the bathroom to the apartment’s front door, but with a locked door confronting her she quickly scurried into the kitchen, in search of the missing key.

With the key proving elusive and knowing time was another enemy, she began to panic. “Christ, where is it?

Although her brain was aching, she had the nous to look at the near naked, bloodied, and smelling body. “Where’s his clothes?”

The first item of clothing, his coat, gave up its treasure. With the key, came the opening of the door.

Falteringly, she ran down the stairs and entered her apartment, then stripped the plastic shower curtain from its rail. She returned to the kitchen above, ready to do battle with the gruesome body. “I better see to Katherine!”

Once she was satisfied, her granddaughter was blood free she hastily dried her body and hair, then dressed her in clean pyjamas.

“I have to fix the mess in the kitchen. Then I have to ring an ambulance for your mother. Whatever you do, do not get out of bed. If the paramedics come, don’t speak. Do you understand? This is important!”

In affirmation, Katherine nodded.

Wrapping Bruno in a blanket taken from her bed and then rewrapping him in the shower curtain was a slow exhausting exercise. Sophia thought of Katherine, as she tried to achieve her aim. No matter what happens here, I have to protect her.

At no time in her life had she ever considered herself a strong woman, it would have overestimated her ability, but she did consider herself extremely determined. With guilt her driving force, no adversity would prevent her from achieving her mission.

Dragging Bruno down the carpeted hall and into the bathroom was time and energy consuming, but it was only the first leg of his journey. “Now I’ve got to clean the damn mess,” she said, with distaste. The very thought of it was turning her stomach as she rested on the bathroom floor, her back against the open door.

The better part of an hour had passed before she was able to rid the kitchen of the bodily fluids, and any apparent evidence.

“How conceited and confident was he?” she mumbled, at seeing the near empty pot, dirty crockery, and cutlery. I’m glad he’s dead!” The two empty wine bottles had not gone unnoticed.

Suddenly she stopped. Sophia was staring at the floating fungi, but Katherine’s stature suddenly sprang to mind. It’s not possible for her to have attacked him unaided, he’s too big. The mushrooms must have poisoned him. There’s no other explanation … but why attack him if he was already dead? What if he was still alive? If he was, she’d definitely have reason to be afraid. I thought she surprised him … and then killed him. It may not have been necessary. All she had to do was wait! But, how would she know he was dying?

The particles of cut mushrooms absolutely frightened her. “How lucky were we? What if we ate them? Thank God we’re not dead!” Thankfully, Karma had intervened.

Both sets of blood-infused clothing, and any remaining items of Bruno’s, were deposited into a plastic garbage bag and disposed of into the basement. Opening the apartment’s front door and the street-facing windows fully allowed the external chilled air to pass through, to diffuse any lingering odors.

Satisfied with her accomplishments so far she hurried to the bathroom. With total disregard for the plastic-wrapped body, she stripped herself, showered quickly and redressed into clean pyjamas. It was time to attempt the same dragging procedure with the lighter-weight Barbara. Crouching forward she raised Barbara’s upper body from under the armpits and in a piecemeal action semi-dragged her along the hall. Sophia could not wait to stand upright once she’d deposited Barbara near to where Bruno’s body once lay. Even though her back ached, she knew her eradication still had some way to go; another dragging of a body needed performing.

As evidence of Barbara having fallen, she lay a chair on its side. “Hopefully, they’ll think she tripped and hit her head on the corner of the table. She didn’t turn on the light when she entered the kitchen. Does that sound okay? It’ll have to do!”

The phone operator replied, “An ambulance will be dispatched immediately and will be their within a few minutes.”

Two paramedics treated Barbara as she lay on the floor, although one confirmed to Sophia, “She’s concussed and has severe bruising to her temple. We’ll transport her to hospital for an MRI.”

Barbara had no idea how she came to be on the floor, but her head ached terribly. Up to the point of going to bed, and then wakened by the paramedics, everything else was blank. “How did I get here? What happened to me?”

“You may have fallen, and hit your head. We’re taking you to MGH for an MRI,” a medic replied.

“No, I’m staying here! If I’m not feeling better in the morning, I’ll call my doctor. I won’t allow you to take me to hospital,” Barbara retorted, in a vexed tone.

“Can we at least move you to the couch?” the same medic asked.

With Barbara’s permission, they helped her to the couch, gave her a couple of pain relief tablets, then vacated the premises.

“I should see how Katherine is. She’ll probably be awake with the all the noise I’ve created,” Barbara said, as she lay prone on the couch.

“I’ve already looked in on her. I asked her to stay in bed.”

“I need to be in bed, too. My head is killing me. The world is spinning around,” Barbara said, with closed eyes.

“Come on! I’ll help you to your bed.”

Katherine had been patiently waiting for the paramedics to leave, but she knew one thing to be true of her mother. She would not voluntarily go to hospital.

Sophia entered her room, knelt beside her bed, and leaning forward, softly said, “I have to get the body down to the basement. Do you want to help me? If you don’t, I’ll understand.”

Katherine did not hesitate, “Okay.” Then, as an afterthought, asked, “Does mom know?”

“No. It’s our secret.”

With Barbara still asleep, they managed, but struggled, with dragging Bruno’s body from the apartment.

“Roll him down the stairs,” Sophia said, abruptly.

Katherine looked perplexed as she stared at her grandmother.

Seeing her puzzled look, Sophia said, “He’s dead! We can’t hurt him.”

With another dragging action complete, Bruno now lay in the basement doorway. Again, Sophia requested her granddaughter’s help. “Help me push him into the basement.”

“Would you sleep with me tonight?” Katherine asked, as they washed themselves in the bathroom.

Sophia simply nodded, but with daylight fast approaching, she knew sleep would be in short commodity.

Barbara woke to a pounding in her head, and in a slightly raised voice, called, “Is anyone there?” She thought her brain was about to explode at hearing her own voice. “Sophia, are you awake?” God, that hurts.

Hearing her name called, Sophia stirred. She looked at Katherine. It isn’t her. I must be hearing things! I should check on Barbara.

Even though she had consumed more than the recommended painkiller dosage, and still extremely tired from her strenuous ordeals, she still managed to shuffle drowsily to Barbara’s room.

“Did you call me? I was asleep, but I could hear someone call my name.”

“My head is killing me. I tried getting out of bed, but the room is spinning. Could you get me some pain tablets, please? If this damn pain doesn’t subside, I’ll have to go to hospital.”

Disappearing, temporarily, Sophia returned, with two tablets and a glass of water. “Here, take these. They should do the trick. The hospital gave them to me before I came home.”

Barbara placed the tablets into her mouth as she leaned on one elbow, then washed them down with a small sip of water. Remaining as she was, with her head raised from the pillow, was becoming impossible.

“Stay in bed and I’ll bring you something to eat later.” I need to get some sleep, not think about cooking.

“I don’t understand what happened. I don’t remember going to the kitchen,” Barbara said, still in a confused state.

“You must have been sleepwalking and fell. We think you hit your head on the table.”

I never sleepwalk!

“Try not to think about it. Just relax and get some rest.”

“I need to go to the toilet,” Barbara said, before attempting the mind-exploding movement from the bed.

She struggled, to and from the toilet, but only with Sophia’s assistance was it possible.

Having returned to Katherine’s room, Sophia chose to sleep in the armchair. A couple of hours sleep is better than none, she thought, just as her weary eyes closed.

“Thank heaven for painkillers,” she mumbled, on waking.

With the pain having subsided, she was able to think clearer. She knew her priority was the immediate disposing of Bruno. Having assisted her husband with manufacturing smallgoods, she knew exactly what was required, but she also knew it would be messy.

If I can keep Barbara in bed for at least twelve hours, she’ll never know the intruder was ever here, and her not knowing is central to Katherine and me being safe. If the body is found before I’m finished, God only knows what the reporters will try and dig up on JM if Katherine went to trial. What would happen to Barbara’s reputation? If the police have to charge someone, I’ll say I did it! The good thing is, we are the only ones who know he is dead, and it has to stay that way. I’ll need Katherine’s help, though. She needs to take care for her mother while I’m in the basement.

“I’ll make us some breakfast, then I need to go to the basement. Could you look after your mother? What I’m about to do will take some time, so you have to be patient?”

“Okay, Nan. Whatever you ask, I’ll do.” Katherine dressed, then woke her mother, to ensure she was comfortable for breakfast.

Katherine?” Sophia called.

Coming!

“The scrambled eggs and toast are ready. Could you take the tray to your mother and I’ll carry the remainder?”

Breakfast was eaten in silence.

Barbara, being semi-reclined, and uncomfortable, said, “Katherine? Help me to lay down, please.”

That suited Sophia. The sooner I start, the quicker I’ll finish.

As they stood in the hall, having resettled Barbara, Sophia said, “If you want me to come up, call me, but under no circumstances are you to come down. Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

As she stood on the landing, Katherine could hear noises coming from the basement. Chopping sounds.

“I’d love to see what she’s doing,” she quietly said, as she leaned on the landing’s rail, looking down to the vestibule. Katherine realised she could only assume what her grandmother was actually doing. It was highly unlikely her Nan would ever release the sordid details.

While Sophia beavered away, Barbara slept.

Sophia appeared in the apartment in the early hours of the following morning, freshly showered and in clean pyjamas. She then thought of Bruno’s eradication. I hadn’t realised just how hard it was going to be, and it took longer than I anticipated.

She checked on Barbara, then Katherine, before collapsing onto the armchair. Unfortunately, she continued to think of Bruno. Rewind and replay went her mind as she thought of his original atrocious treatment. He deserved everything he got. She fell asleep, but the thoughts lingered.

She slept a couple of hours sleep, but it was insufficient for feeling fully refreshed, and Katherine’s continual movements in the room certainly wasn’t of any help.

Shuffling to her grandmother, Katherine kissed her cheek, then asked, “Nan, I need more canvases. Could you buy me some, please?”

Sophia’s brain was still in sleep mode, but her granddaughter’s request surprised her. Hi Nan, how are? Are you okay, Nan? They’d be nice words to hear, not the asking of new canvases. “Let’s see how your mother’s feeling over the next few days. Why don’t you paint over some of the others?”

As she asked, the thought of artists not painting over existing works traversed quickly through her mind.

Katherine didn’t respond.

Two days passed and although Barbara was recovering, a weariness had enveloped her. Confined to the apartment had become mind numbing, so her suggestion of ‘going out for lunch’ pleased both Sophia and Katherine. Buying some art supplies afterwards was also a given.

Sophia knew Katherine was capable of moving from one painting to another, but concentrating on one particular painting, she thought unusual. Knowing her granddaughter never discussed her art, Sophia refrained from asking what it represented. From her perspective, the viewer either admired or disliked them.

The thawing snow announced the approaching of spring, and with it, the following of warmer weather.

Katherine broached the subject, with her mother, of her reluctance to return to high school.

“When I think of some girls in my school I image they’re talking about me and what happened. I don’t want to go to school. I miss my friends, but they can come here if they want to see me. I just want to paint at home.”

With her daughter’s honesty a reminder, Barbara steadfastly refused to allow her to attend school and be the recipient of cruel ridicule. “If it requires home tuition, to bring her up to where she should be academically, then that’s what she’ll receive.”

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