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Stoney Beck

by

Jean Hought-Beatty


 

Chapter One

Jenny Robinson bent over the casket and kissed her father’s cheek. It felt cold and hard as stone. “It’s all over, Dad,” she whispered. “Over at last. You can rest now.”

Dry-eyed, all the tears wrung out of her ages ago, she took one long, last look, then turned and joined her mother on the front row of Delshire Methodist. Her mother’s brother slipped into the pew beside them and for the first time that day, Jenny’s eyes grew misty. Uncle Tim had been a rock during these final days. She reached for her mother’s hand, tightening her grip as the undertakers closed the coffin lid over Michael Robinson’s face. 

After the service and burial in Sharon Memorial Park, they came back to the house. Jenny lagged behind Mother and Uncle Tim as they walked up the path. She climbed the steps and stood on the wide columned veranda, staring down at the front yard, then across the street to the other houses. It was the middle of April and the huge willow oaks, planted over fifty years ago on both sides of the road were coming into full leaf. She had lived on this street nearly all her life, gone to Myers Park High School, gotten her degree from Queens College, which was no more than three miles from her house. Before he had become sick, her Dad had said there was no place in the world any prettier than Charlotte in April, all decked out in her best spring dress. And he was right. Two days before he’d died, she and Uncle Tim had pushed her father’s bed up close to the window so he could see for the last time the dogwoods and azaleas in bloom. When Jenny pointed out the cardinal perched on the dogwood tree. Her father smiled but it was hard to know if he had been aware.

As cars began pulling into the driveway or parking on the street, Jenny pushed open the door and went inside. She was in time to see her mother climbing the stairs, and knew she wouldn’t come back down until everybody had gone. Earlier she’d said no way could she handle the hoards of people expected to fill the house. She’d take a tranquilizer and spend a couple of hours in her room. Jenny sent up a fast prayer that her mother could somehow make it through the next few weeks without falling apart. The long agony of her father’s sickness had taken its toll on her mother, who’d been suffering on and off for the last couple of years with clinical depression. Jenny could hardly remember the way things used to be.

Neighbors had brought most of the food, and now casseroles, ham, fried chicken and cakes covered every inch of the dining room table. People began straggling into the house, fixing a plate of food before settling themselves in the living room. Between slicing ham and serving plates, Jenny heard the whispers.

“Terrible way to go,” old Mrs. Newsome said, her mouth full of lemon pound cake. “I’d never heard of Huntington’s disease until it hit the Robinsons.”

Bertha Trumble, a member of the church choir, sipped her coffee. “If you ask me, it’s a blessing the poor soul’s gone. The funeral parlor did a good job on him though. Did you see him? He looked almost normal.”

Mr. Feldman from across the road bit into a ham sandwich. “It’s Jenny I feel sorry for. I wouldn’t want that hanging over my head. It’s like facing a firing squad.”

“Oh, wow,” said sixteen-year-old Wesley Pratt from the house next door.

Jenny shivered as the boy sank his teeth into a drumstick, then she walked out of earshot.

For the next hour, she busied herself making sure everything went smoothly, at the same time longing for the time when everybody would be gone.

After a while, Uncle Tim gathered some friends from the old days around the piano for a sing-a-long. There was “Abide with Me,” and “Amazing Grace,” then songs like “Michael Row the Boat Ashore,” and even her Dad’s favorite, “Peggy Sue.”

Mrs. Newsome brushed the crumbs off her skirt onto the carpet, and got to her feet. She reached for another piece of cake, black forest this time, and wrapped it in a paper napkin. She rolled her eyes at Bertha who also stood up. “Strange carryings on for a funeral if you ask me,” she said, loud enough for Jenny to hear. “The hymns were all right but these songs are a mockery. That brother of Beverly’s has got some nerve.”

Jenny forced a smile as she walked over to the women. “Hasn’t he though,” smiling and deliberately misunderstanding. “Uncle Tim wanted to do this for Dad. It’s a celebration of his life, you see. And Dad, well he just loved Buddy Holly singing “Peggy Sue.”” 

Before they saw the tears, Jenny turned away and went to stand by Uncle Tim. She put her hand on his shoulder, and looked at her father’s picture on top of the piano, taken years ago when he was well. He laughed right at her, from the golf course the day he bagged the fluke of his life, a hole in one. Maybe if she listened really hard, she might still hear him laugh. Nobody had a laugh as warm as his. Nobody. Uncle Tim looked up from banging out “Old Man River” and winked at her. You’re doing great, the wink said, hang in there. Jenny winked back and smiled. Maybe the good times would come back now. Life did still have to go on.

By six o’clock, everybody had gone except Uncle Tim who stayed for a final cup of coffee. Jenny walked with him to the door, her arm through his, hanging on, hating to see him go.

“Thanks, Uncle Tim. For everything.”

“I wish I could have done more. I was out of town half the time. Most of it fell on you. God knows, your mother hasn’t been much help.”

“Ah, Mom did try,” Jenny said, “Thank the lord for Hospice, though. Her nerves are acting up again and she’s popping pills like crazy. I’d hate for her to have to go back to that clinic.”

“Let’s give her a week or two,” her uncle said. “Maybe she’ll snap out of it. It’s time for us to pick up the pieces. That’s what your dad would want.”

Jenny snapped her fingers. “Hang on while I fix you a doggy bag. You hardly ate a bite all afternoon. I watched you. There’s enough food left to feed an army and it’d be a crying shame to waste it.”

Tim watched his niece walk to the kitchen, shoulders slumped now the need to be strong was behind her. The lump in his throat was a stone he couldn’t swallow. All through last night’s receiving of friends and today’s funeral and long afternoon, Jenny had taken charge, that brave smile of hers glued on. She had chatted with neighbors and friends, thanked everyone for coming. From where he stood, Tim could see his sister Beverly in the room across the hall, hunched on the sofa, eyes downcast, as though counting the filaments per square inch in the carpet. He stepped inside and kissed her cheek. “Jenny’s all you’ve got now, Bev. Please, for her sake, try to hold on. She’s grieving too.” Gently he shook his sister’s shoulder. “Beverly, are you listening?”

“I heard you,” his sister said without looking up. “All those people in the house. I just wasn’t up to it. Jenny’s not so sensitive. She’s tough. Can handle anything.”

“She’s a daughter in a million and missing Michael just as much as you are. Not only that, she’s frightened. How about trying to put yourself in her shoes.”

He straightened up as Jenny returned from the kitchen, carrying a cardboard box. “There’s a plate for when you get home, and a couple of containers for your freezer.”

“Were there any deviled eggs left?” he asked as they walked toward his car.

“Six. They’re all in there.”

He put the food on the back seat then held his niece at arms length while he examined her pale, tired face. “OK. Now remember, I’ll be at the Hyatt in San Francisco for the next ten days. I’ve put the number on the pad by the phone. Get some rest. And I want to see some color in those cheeks by the time I come back.”

“Will you quit worrying about me,” Jenny said. “And try to have some fun yourself. Don’t let one lousy marriage turn you off women forever. A good-looking man like you. What a waste.” She pushed the hair out of her eyes and looked at her watch. “It’s rush hour, Uncle Tim, and the traffic’s crazy. Keep your mind on the road and call when you get home.”

He got in the car, rolled down the window. “When I get back we’ll go on up to the lake. We’ll get the boat out and see if you can still ski. Bring some of your friends. After he backed into the road, he gave her a thumbs up then headed home.

Jenny watched until her uncle’s car had turned the corner, and then went inside. In her father’s bedroom, the tears she had held back filled her eyes. She blinked and they rolled down her cheeks. She sat on his bed and ran a hand over the spread, remembering the good times before her father’s illness. Her last happy memory of him was when she received her high school diploma. He and her mother had been so proud. Even now Jenny could see their laughing, happy faces. They had made her close her eyes, while Uncle Tim drove into the driveway with her graduation present, a brand new Honda. A week from that very day, the first sign of Huntington’s disease showed itself. From then on, nothing was ever the same.

Ten days after the funeral, Jenny placed a small stack of sympathy cards on the kitchen table, set a mug of coffee in front of her mother and a can of Diet Pepsi at her own place. As she pulled up a chair, her mother asked the question for at least the hundredth time.

“When are you going to get tested?”

“I don’t know. Soon maybe.”

“You’ve been saying that for years.”

“I might not ever do it. This way, I’ve still got that little ray of hope. But if they tell me for sure…. First Grandma, then Aunt Mary and Uncle Bob. Now Dad. Think of it, Mom. All of them gone. My genes must be crawling with it.” She snapped the tab on the can and wiped the top with a tissue. “Still, I’m only twenty-three. It’ll be years before anything shows up. And now you won’t be needing me at home, I’ll get a job. I’d like something to do with travel, maybe a flight attendant.” Her voice became softer, as if talking only to herself. “But marriage is out for me. I’d never saddle a husband with what you’ve had to go through.”

Beverly backed away from those eyes. Distant now, remote, they looked through her and beyond, to a barren lonely place she couldn’t go. Her breath caught in her throat as the strangled words came out. “What if I told you your dad wasn’t your real father.”

The can stopped halfway to Jenny’s mouth. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You were never told the truth about your birth.” 

There, she’d said it at last. The rest would be easy.

“What truth? What are you talking about?” 

Beverly picked up a sympathy card. She glanced at it and let it fall. “Michael Robinson was not your father, Jenny. Not your real one. I mean he wasn’t your biological one.”

“Of course he was.” Jenny’s voice was taut, barely above a whisper. “Why are you saying this? Don’t you think I’d know if he wasn’t?”

“Would you? Haven’t you ever wondered why you didn’t favor him? Him with his red hair and freckles. You tall, him short.”

It was the way her mother said it. Her face had turned white as though the words had drained the very life out of her. “I thought I favored your side of the family,” Jenny said. “My hair’s lighter than yours, but we’ve both got grey eyes.”

“Yes, I know, but still—” Her mother looked down at her nails, began to pick at the rough edges.

“Why are you saying this?” Jenny said, even as goose bumps popped out on her arms. “Dad would have told me. He wouldn’t let me think—” 

“He didn’t know. Nobody did.”

Jenny pushed back her chair and got up, did a turn about the room, then plopped back down. “What are you saying? Are you trying to tell me Dad didn’t know? That he didn’t know whether or not I was his little girl?”

Her mother reached across the table and gripped her daughter’s arm. “I lied to him, Jenny. I lied to Tim as well. I had to. I lied to everyone. It was for your sake as well as my own.”

Jenny pressed the can of Pepsi against her face as the temperature in the room suddenly shot up about five degrees. “For God’s sake. Who is my father then? Where is he?” 

Her mother shook her head. “I don’t know.”

“You mean—”

“I mean apart from being born in that English village I told you about, it’s all been one big lie after another.”

“Hold it.” Jenny raised a hand as her mother opened her mouth to say more. “How about if you give it to me all at once. Let’s get it over with.” 

Beverly ran a finger round the rim of her coffee mug. Then, in short disjointed sentences, told Jenny that she and her boyfriend Michael Robinson had made love the night before she left home for a summer student exchange course at Edinburgh University. On her way to Scotland, she’d broken her journey in the Lake District, renting a cottage at the Hare and Hounds Inn in Stoney Beck. But the village was a cold Godforsaken place, with the weather more like February than July. She hated the Lake District, hated England and everything in it. That was until the third day, when the sun came out. Then this dream of a guy materialized from out of nowhere and sat beside her on a bench outside the inn. Even though Charles Woodleigh was older than Beverly by about three or four years, he was also a student, and had a room in a farmhouse just outside the village. He was easy to talk to and made her laugh. Suddenly, things weren’t so bad. 

Jenny gulped a mouthful of Pepsi and leaned against the chair back. “Are you trying to tell me I’m the prize you got for a quickie? A one-night stand?”

Beverly raised a hand to her cheek as if Jenny had struck her. “It wasn’t like that. I was in the Lake District for almost a month. We fell in love and it wasn’t until the second week— The cottage was hidden a bit by trees and we were very careful. You were conceived there.” Beverly reached for her purse propped against the breadbox and pulled out a slim hardback book which she handed to Jenny. “I’ve kept this at the back of my closet all these years. It’s all I have to remember him by.”

Jenny stared at the title: Sonnets from the Portuguese. Inside, a forget-me-not and four-leaf clover were pressed between the pages and on the same page as “How Do I Love Thee,” was a snapshot of her mother as a young girl. Her long wavy brown hair blew about in the wind. The tall young man beside her had a cap of blonde curls and a movie star face. His arm was around her waist and they laughed into the camera. Jenny stared at the picture for a long time then continued to leaf through the pages. On the back cover he had written, I’ll love you always, Charles.

While Beverly’s restless hands picked at her nails, she told Jenny that Charles had said it was love at first sight for him. She thought she loved him too, but when she realized he was serious, she had second thoughts. How could she, a girl who had been brought up on Carolina sunshine and an oh-so-different way of life, ever be happy with this suddenly very serious man. England was a bleak, alien place, where it hardly ever stopped raining. Beverly had tried to let him down gently, but in the end she had laughed and said she hadn’t meant for things to get out of hand. The very next day she was on the first train out of there. 

Beverly took the poetry book from Jenny and held it against her chest. “When I didn’t get my period, I wasn’t worried. I’d never been all that regular. But by the second month, I was a basket case. I packed my things and went back to Stoney Beck to tell Charles.”

Jenny was by now on the edge of her chair, back rigid, hands clenched together. “What did he say?” she whispered to her mother.

“He wasn’t there. Folks at the farm said he’d left two weeks before. Something about being needed at home.” Beverly picked the pilling from the sleeve of her old black sweater as she told Jenny that Charles Woodleigh had left no forwarding address. He was from London, but had never said what part, or if he did, Beverly wasn’t listening. She called every Woodleigh in the phone books, but none had a Charles in the family. Making a last ditch effort, she placed an ad in the local paper, then another in one of the nationals. 

“I never found him. Don’t know whether he’s alive or dead.” She picked up one of the envelopes, and while she tore it into strips, told Jenny it wasn’t until she lost Charles that she realized she did love him after all. She checked in with the village doctor who was very kind, even arranging for a midwife to visit her. By then it was fall and with business at the inn slow, the owners let her rent the cottage for a song. Socialized medicine had covered her hospital bills. She had always thought foreigners had to pay at least something toward their medical expenses, but she didn’t. Nothing to worry about, the doctor had told her. It hadn’t cost a penny. Beverly had told the doctor and a few others she knew in the village that Michael, her American boyfriend, was the baby’s father. They had both gotten carried away the night before she left home. When the doctor had advised her to let the baby’s father know, Beverly replied she didn’t want to force Michael into marriage. She would tell him when she finally returned home.

Beverly gave a deep sigh. “But of course you weren’t his,” she said without looking at Jenny. “I did write to him, but didn’t tell him I was pregnant. I just said it was over between us. By then, you see, I was praying for Charles to come back.” 

She pulled at the rough spot on the nail she’d been toying with since she’d sat at the table. It came off right down to the quick. She winced and stared at the nail as blood oozed from the painful spot. “I never forgot that doctor,” she said. “Just last year, I got up enough nerve to send him your picture. Silly maybe, but he’d been so kind and I wanted to show you off. I still didn’t want to tell him where we lived so I didn’t put a return address. I asked Tim to mail it on one of his trips out west. Thought he might ask me why, but he didn’t. Guess he had his mind on his divorce.” She spread her arms on the table, palms upward. “So you see, you don’t need to worry about getting Huntington’s disease. There isn’t a drop of Robinson blood in your veins.”

Jenny gathered up the thank you notes, trying to stop her hands from trembling, but it all became too much. She flung the notes across the room. “I honest to God don’t know how you could have put me through this.” She drank the rest of her Pepsi slaking her parched dry throat, then crushed the empty can between her hands. “For years I’ve been terrified I’d end up like Dad.”

“I know, I know. I kept hoping you’d get tested. Then I was afraid. I thought I’d let it go too long. That if I told you, you might hate me.”

“Is this why you never took me to see Gramps and Grandma?”

Beverly nodded. She’d lied to them too, said she loved England and had taken a job in a bookshop. The last part was true. It helped to pay the rent and get her through. When she finally did come home, her strict high-and-mighty parents said they were ashamed of her. Thank God for Tim, who not only sent her money to come home but also even found Michael Robinson.

Beverly’s eyes were huge in her ashen face. “Michael thought you were his, so I just went along. I couldn’t believe it when he asked me to marry him. We went to London on our honeymoon and applied to have your birth re-registered. Then when we got back to North Carolina, we moved from Asheville to the beach in Wilmington and then to Charlotte where nobody knew us.”

Beverly stretched out her hand to Jenny but let it fall when Jenny kept her own hands in her lap. “Please, Jenny, try to understand for my sake. In my own way, I loved Michael dearly. I owe him my life, my very sanity. I couldn’t take a chance on him finding out. But most of all there was the—” 

The grandfather clock in the hall sounded out the hour. Jenny’s mother jumped, her hand covered her mouth. It was as if the chime sent a warning. 

“What is it? Why did you stop?”

“There’s nothing else to tell. It’s just that—” There was an edge of something in Beverly’s voice that wasn’t there before.

Jenny pushed back her chair and got to her feet. It was getting dark and she switched on the lights. She studied her mother’s face, saw the lipstick bleeding into the furrowed skin around her mouth. There were bags under her eyes and her hair, mostly gray now, was wild and unkempt. She was only forty-seven yet had the face of a woman in her late fifties, sixties even. Jenny compared her with the picture on the dresser behind her: a slender laughing girl in shorts and blouse, hamming it up for the camera, tennis racquet poised over her head. Jenny remembered happier times when her pretty mother laughed a lot, had friends. But the years of missing her first love, guilt over deceiving her daughter and husband, then the final strain of caring for him, had all taken their toll. 

Beverly sat very still, cradling her sore finger, her face wet with tears. “Please, Jenny, say something. I know I should have told you and I’m so sorry I didn’t. But I’ve always loved you. At least tell me you don’t hate me.”

Jenny stared at her mother. “How could you do this to me. I’ve been haunted by this worry for years and all you can do is sit there and tell me you’re sorry.” She pushed her chair back and got to her feet. “I need time to think. I’m going out.”

She went into the utility room and changed out of her ordinary shoes into her Reeboks. There was at least an hour of daylight left, more than enough for a jog. For a couple of minutes, she stood on the stoop, then went back into the kitchen. Her mother was still in the chair, her head in her hands. “You’d better put some salve on that finger. It could get infected.”

As Jenny jogged past the local deli, she saw a couple of friends sitting by the window so went inside. She joined them for coffee but didn’t stay long. Even though they tried to hide it, Jenny saw the looks, felt the distance between them widen. It was all she could do not to scream. She didn’t need their pity. She was no more at risk than they were. But explaining what she’d just found out would take all night, and did it really matter any more?

Two hours later she climbed the stairs to her mother’s room. The light shone under the closed door and Jenny could hear the TV. She had her hand on the knob then changed her mind and went back downstairs to her own room. That night, she lay in bed, hands behind her head and stared at the ceiling. All these years she’d had a death sentence hanging over her head. And now, even though she’d loved her father dearly, her heart began to dance. She couldn’t help it. She was free, free. Life was wonderful, fantastic, and with a bit of luck she could maybe live to be a hundred.

Her thoughts drifted now across the Atlantic. If her real father was alive, he was probably married and had forgotten all about his American love. It was all a long time ago. Jenny could never be one of those kids who couldn’t rest until they’d found their biological parents. And besides, what proof did she have? She believed every word of her mother’s story, but Charles Woodleigh could very easily slam the door in her face. She sat up in bed and hugged her knees as one scenario after another trekked through her mind. What if he wasn’t married? What if he were a bachelor, or widowed even? What harm could there be in at least finding out that much?

Earlier, Jenny had wanted to pay her mother back for all the hurt. Now, though, in the dark of her room, all Jenny saw was the anguish and hopelessness etched in every line of her mother’s tormented, weary face. She pushed back the covers to get out of bed and go to her, then hesitated. Surely her mother was asleep by now. Jenny lay back down. First thing tomorrow, she would tell her mother she still loved her. 

***

Beverly sat on the side of her bed and applied ointment to her finger then wrapped it with a Band-Aid. After all these years, she still thought of Charles Woodleigh. And tonight, even with Michael just gone, the memory sneaked in. She still remembered the color of Charles’s sweater. Loden green. When he had said he loved her, how insensitive she must have seemed when she’d laughed, patted his cheek, and then closed the cottage door for the last time. For the thousandth time Beverly speculated. Had Charles left the Lake District because he couldn’t bear it without her. Or, more likely, had he been afraid she would come back pregnant? Was this the reason he had vanished? And now, Michael, the second man Beverly had loved, had gone away. Dying was a form of desertion wasn’t it? And now she had at last told Jenny everything, she would be the next to leave. They all did in the end. Since the onset of Michael’s illness, Beverly had been hospitalized twice with clinical depression. Now she felt the onset of another one. Sleep was almost impossible, even with the medicine. If she did somehow fall into a jerky sleep, she woke early, anxious, and jittery. Concentration was impossible. Combing her hair or even putting on lipstick was turning into a monumental task. Once again she was sinking into the mire and just too sick of it all to pull herself out.

Out of habit, Beverly switched on TV. With the volume turned down low, she watched a few minutes of the movie Casablanca, at the same time thinking of her confession to Jenny. She was sorry now she had mentioned the Lake District, even told Jenny the name of the village. If her daughter ever decided to search, she now knew where to start and there was more than a slim chance she would discover the one secret Beverly had still not been able to tell. Still, Jenny had been freed at last from the Robinson curse. She could now marry, have a husband and family. Surely this was something, some sort of restitution.

Beverly bit her lip. Wouldn’t it be better to tell Jenny the rest of the story, rather than risk her daughter finding out for herself? Beverly had sworn to herself that she would never tell anyone this side of the Atlantic. She would carry her secret with her into the hereafter. Her palms began to sweat. Maybe there wouldn’t be a hereafter if she didn’t tell Jenny everything. 

Even though she drank hardly at all, tonight Beverly brought a bottle of wine up to her room. The sleeping pills hadn’t worked for the last couple of nights and if she didn’t get some sleep tonight, she would be a basket case by tomorrow. She went into the bathroom and opened the medicine cabinet. Her brand new bottle of fifty Xanax pills as well as her last four sleeping pills stood on the shelf. She filled a glass to the brim with wine and swallowed two of the sleeping pills along with five or six Xanax. With her hand on the light switch, she turned back and picked up the last of the sleeping pills. Surely this would be enough to give her a good night’s sleep. She gulped the glass of wine; then filled the glass again just to make sure.

Beverly opened the drawer in the nightstand and took out her notepad and pen. She would explain everything in a note and perhaps sometime tomorrow she would put the note on Jenny’s pillow. Dear Jenny, she began, and hummed along while Sam played “As Time Goes By,” for Ilsa in Rick’s Café.

***

There was no elaborate funeral for Beverly Robinson. A graveside service, family only. Jenny felt the warm Southern sun on her arms and held on tight to Uncle Tim’s hand. While Reverend Lancing intoned let not your heart be troubled, a wren sang at full throat in the ligustrum bushes nearby. Afterwards, she and Uncle Tim went back to the house and sat on the back porch, drinking cup after cup of coffee. 

Jenny rubbed her burning dry eyes, then brought her fist down hard on the arm of the Adirondack chair. “This is all my fault. Why couldn’t I see how desperate she was.”

Tim Pender leaned forward, elbows on his knees. “Jenny, for God’s sake. You’d just had one hell of a shock yourself. Your mother understood. She probably expected a lot worse. And we’ve gone over this a hundred times. What about that salve she’d put on her finger? She even bandaged it? You don’t do that if you plan on killing yourself. And you swallow all the pills, not just a few. It was an accident, the combination of wine and pills.”

Jenny looked up at the ceiling, saw the huge cobweb in the corner, the spider waiting while the little bug struggled in vain to escape. She had this insane urge to get on a chair and sweep the cobweb away, letting the bug loose. That very morning she had made a halfhearted attempt to dust the furniture. There was dust on everything. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. 

She took the sheet of folded notepaper she’d found on her mother’s bed and handed it to her Uncle. The writing was shaky, uncertain, as if written by a very old person. 

My Dearest Jenny,

Even though I’ve freed you from the Robinson curse, I haven’t told you everything about your birth. For years I’ve wanted to tell you the whole story but it was too hard. After you’ve read this letter, I pray you won’t hate me. But you have a right to know and I’d give the world—

The unfinished sentence trailed away down the center of the page. Tim’s brows drew together as he read the note, then he stared out the window at the cluster of red and white azaleas in the far corner of the yard. “I don’t have any idea what she was trying to say. Don’t guess we’ll ever know now.” 

He turned back to his niece, her eyes wide in her pale, anxious face. “Just remember, Jen, in spite of everything, your mother loved you. She didn’t mean to kill herself. All she was trying to do was get a good night’s sleep. So for God’s sake get yourself off this guilt trip.”

At the inquest ten days later, a verdict of accidental death was recorded.


END OF SAMPLE



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