Ways of the Widow – Matthew Wilson

“Hannah – by good fortune, I ran into a copper in the next street,” my mother called, having come in through the shop door and called up from behind the counter. “Hello?”

Hannah showed her teeth and then with some resignation, made a shushing gesture as if this matter had never happened and seemed to take a moment to transform into a happy normal creature rather than the mad thing that had previously attacked me.

Dabbing her burnt arm, she turned and hurried downstairs, positively skipping.

“Oh, thank goodness,” she said. “I was so scared -”

“Mom, she tried to kill me,” I couldn’t stop the hot tears when they came and astonishingly, Hannah looked hurt as if we had made a deal of immunity and I had broken it.

“What’s all this?” a policeman said and mother’s eyes were as hard as his shield.

“Sam, that’s enough -”

You’re embarrassing me.

“But it’s true,” I choked on snot and saliva but I could not stop talking. I would not. “She tried to kill me. She killed Michael -”

Mother’s anger turned to hurt as she was reminded of what she had lost and her soft words became a bark.

“That’s enough.”

“It’s okay,” Hannah said with great patience.

Children were always trouble and liars.

“Sam’s been telling the world how I’m some black widow, how I shot Sullivan in the head and that I’m really a werewolf who sings to the moon.”

“How did you know Micky was shot in the head?” asked the policeman.

Hannah stopped her story and recalibrated the situation. “W-what?”

“That wasn’t in the paper,” the officer said. “How did you know he was shot in the head?”

Hannah laughed good humoredly like an actor who had stumbled her lines. “I – I heard. I must have.”

“Mom, she has poison, she tried to make me drink it,” I said and though she tried to put it away, the officer covered the distance between them in two stride and snatched it away.

“You have no right, that’s my property,” Hannah snarled like a dog deprived of a bone.

“You can have it back when you tell me how you knew about Micky’s death. I was his friend. I had to break the news to his mother and I didn’t even tell her about the head shot.” The officer’s voice became very low and controlled. “You want to tell me again how -”

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