Her name was Mary, the one that they say shot herself. Although I never knew her, it is a stretch to believe a woman would kill herself this way. Far too messy.
“What was she like?” I asked my mother once.
“Timid. Not a particularly happy woman.”
She had been married to my mother’s second eldest brother. They lived in a small rural town and had one or two daughters. The details are hazy even now.
“Do you think it’s true what they say about her?”
“I don’t know.”
“She was afraid of everything. At least that’s what they said when they bought the gun, showed her how to use it. It was supposed to be protection.”
“Who Mom? Who bought the gun?”
“My brother, and his girlfriend at the time.”
“What? He had a girlfriend? Did she know?”
“Everybody knew. They didn’t hide it.” She paused and thought about it for a bit. “No wonder Mary was depressed.”
The story wasn’t panning out in my mind. I tried to picture my husband buying me a gun and his girlfriend teaching me how to use it. It wouldn’t be me that died.
“Do you think they could have shot her?”
“I don’t know.”
I know what happened afterward. The mistress moved in. I visited there in that clapboard white house with black shutters. I remember the youngest daughter, the one they had together. She was tall and thin and sixteen at the time. I was much younger and idolized her beauty. Didn’t much care for my uncle or that aunt though. She was overly loud, with a laugh like a cackle – put on, I decided. He had large hairy hands and bushy eyebrows, and leered like a hungry cat. Mom made us kiss him goodbye and he turned his mouth to meet mine and I wanted run.
They made lots of money selling real estate and moved to Florida, visiting every summer.
“They’re not getting my money!” my grandmother would say when they came around.
We visited them down south. None of the daughters were around. Rumours were that Uncle had molested the girls. They didn’t talk him. I believed it. He made my skin crawl. Mother made us be nice to him though.
I think about Mary often. Did she know what kind of man she had married? Did she feel trapped? Did they kill her because they didn’t want to pay alimony?
Families have mysteries. Ours is named Mary. Well, at least one of them is.
(This week’s challenge is mystery. All are welcome to join in. Write a poem, story, or tell a story in photographs. )