Buried Secret

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Buried Secret

Postby TiffanyLuckey » Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:49 pm

I stared in astonishment at the empty lot where my childhood home once stood before it was demolished. Scattered mounds of dirt had replaced the ranch style house full of mostly bitter memories. The chill in the wintry air pierced through me as much as the pain stabbed at my heart.

A black bird landed in the area where I used to bury rocks and other treasures in the crawl space underneath my bedroom. The bird pecked at the dirt, as if it knew a secret was hidden below. I walked over and dropped to my knees. The wind whipped my long, brown hair as I dug my hands into the wet earth. I didn’t have a chance to grab a shovel. The doctors said Mama didn’t have much time and would need to undergo surgery tonight.

My heart pounded as I tossed small piles of dirt. I thought about what Mama had whispered to me from her hospital bed a few hours ago. I was poring over my campaign strategy documents for my bid as mayor of our small town when her voice startled me.

“Renee,” she said, slowly. “You must return to Canyon Creek and get something we left behind.”

I got up from the recliner across the room and stood next to her bed.

“Mama, we packed everything before the house was condemned,” I said. “There is nothing left.”

She raised her right hand like she always did when she didn’t want me to argue with her.

“There is one more box,” she said. “If you don’t find it, then our family legacy could be destroyed.”

“What are you talking about?” My eyes widened. “You’re not feeling well, remember?”

“Do as I say,” she said. “Go to where you used to bury your rocks.”

That’s all Mama told me before she dozed off. Now my stomach became uneasy about what I might find. Suddenly, my hands hit an object. I saw a faded yellow edge of what appeared to be a box. I looked up to see if anybody else was around. The wind had stopped. I placed my hands inside the hole, trying to find the edges of the box. I pulled out a medium-sized stationary box with butterflies on the lid.

Inside, I found old photos of my father. I drew a sharp breath. I had barely known my father who was in an alcoholic haze for most of my childhood. I’d often awake to loud arguments between my parents that sometimes turned violent. Mama covered her bruises with makeup. As a city council member, she always had to put on her best face.

The pictures were scattered on top of an object wrapped in old newspaper. A two-part headline caught my eye: Councilwoman’s husband dead in apparent suicide. Police have no suspects or weapon. A flood of painful memories washed over me as my mind flashed back to the summer night when loud noises awakened me. I was nine. My mother was peering down at me as soon as I opened the bedroom door.

“Mama, what was that noise?”

“The neighbors are shooting fireworks, child” she said. “Go back to sleep.”

Confused, I did what I was told. The next morning, I found her curled up in a ball on the kitchen floor. I touched her shoulder. She pulled me into a tight embrace as she broke the news to me. My father was dead with a gunshot wound to the head. His body was found on the embankment of the Canyon Creek river.

The news still filled me with emptiness much like it did then. I slowly unwrapped the object and my heart nearly stopped when I realized the steely silver object was a gun. Flinging the gun to the ground, I shot up and walked back several feet. I felt like my stomach had been punched. Then, the grave realization filled me with rage. Why had Mama kept this from me after all these years? My fury turned to hot tears that streamed down my cheeks. I twirled around to see if anybody had seen me with the gun. For several minutes, I stood paralyzed by the burden that weighed on me. With a heavy heart, I picked up the contents and put them inside the box. I threw the box into my car trunk. It was now my secret to keep.

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