Ways of the Widow – Matthew Wilson

But she didn’t know that.

All I needed was for her to react, to put one foot wrong that I could use as evidence against her.

But what I didn’t expect her to do was come late at night to mother’s hat shop, wild eyed and weeping that there was a burglar in her house. She needed her good friend to run and fetch the police, my mother was kind – surely she would help her!

Shortly after the bell tingled and Mother’s footsteps died away, I drew my ear away from my bedroom door when I heard boots click on the private quarters stairs.

“Sam?” Hannah called. “We’re alone now. You don’t have to be scared, I just want to talk.”

The only exit was down the stairs, past her and it was a twenty foot drop to the ground below outside my bedroom window.

“Sam? I’ve brought you that water – I need you to drink it this time.”

Children hid under the bed and foolishly, I told myself that I was a man but when my fear snapped me into a charge that tried to barrel into her and hopefully break her neck as she toppled downstairs, instead she laughed, grabbed my hair and dragged me back onto the landing with the annoyance of a farmer ushering a wayward sheep into its pen. “You’ve caused me enough problems, boy,” her voice lost its musical greeting as she thrust a small flask at me. Liquid sloshed inside and I closed my mouth like it was glued.

“Come now, it’s good for you,” she said and we struggled as she cut my lips with her fingernails, trying to force my mouth open and then she howled as I kicked her shin and barked in worse agony when some of the liquid spilled out on her arm and sizzled.

“You little devil,” Hannah shrieked like a harpy loose on earth. “Your mom’s a good friend – you think I wouldn’t recognise your handwriting after I’ve been around the place. Nosing through all her possessions–” she stopped talking when she heard the bell tinkle downstairs and her eyes glowed pure hate at me.

She looked like a bad sportsman that missed the goal by an inch.

It was wrong and unfair. It was too soon.

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