The day she died

The day my mom died, I had crawled into bed at 2 am. I had been drinking, and drinking always leads to crying, for me, so when my phone rang my face was swollen and my head hurt. I tried to turn the ringer off but succeeded in knocking it off the bedside table.

Forget it, I thought to myself, seconds before my boyfriend kicked me—not hard or anything, just enough to make me grab it.

It was my mom—well it wasn’t, obviously—so I picked it up and snapped,


“Is this Dinah Blackwell?” a man’s voice asked—definitely not her latest boyfriend’s.

I sat up. “Yes?”

My boyfriend grunted, and a hand reached out and pushed me. I scrambled out of his bed and into the hallway, heart beating fast. Hopefully he’d go back to sleep in a moment.

As I shut the door, the man on my mom’s phone finally said, “I am Officer Ryan Kane. Can you please come to the precinct as soon as possible?”

“Why are you on my mom’s phone?” I demanded in a whisper.

“Miss Blackwell, please come—”

“Is my mom OK?”

My heart was pounding in my chest, and I felt three beats go by before he said, “Alex, I’m sorry. I need you to come to the precinct.”

I guess I told him I’d be there, but I don’t remember it. I dressed quietly, stopped at a gas station for an Excedrin and a bottle of water.

My hands were shaking as I pulled into the precinct parking lot, and I double parked. There wasn’t time for that, though, and I just ran inside.

“Miss Blackwell?” A cop asked.

I nodded. He ushered me into a cushy room, completely unlike the interrogation rooms on TV. I guess that meant I wasn’t a suspect in her death.

Officer Kane came in and introduced himself. He droned on for a while before finally saying, “Your mother…”

“What happened?”

“There was an electrical fire. She passed away.”

“Jesus. I kept telling her she needed to get that wiring checked out and she never would! And now…” I choked back on the tears.

He gave me a small half smile, trying at sympathy. He wasn’t very good at it. “I’m very sorry Miss Blackwell.”

I shook my head. My mom was dead. Everything felt like it was crashing around my head.

“You said her house had some wiring problems?”

“Yes…” But her she had gotten it checked out. She was going to sell.

“Well, I’ll pass that to the fire marshal. Sounds like it rules out foul play.”

“OK…” But I’d complained about it so many times. And I hadn’t told my boyfriend she was selling…

“Is there anything you need to tell me?”

We’d been so careful, deleting everything, messaging through apps that auto-deleted.

“Miss Blackwell?”

I shook my head. “No.”


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