In the corner of the tiny room was a desk, not unlike the one her mother used. Dulcie couldn’t imagine anyone doing much work or reading in that windowless room, with its one lamp and overhead light being the only sources of illumination. Despite this, there were papers neatly stacked on the desk and a quick search of the drawers produced newspaper clippings of her school accomplishments, files containing pictures of her throughout the years, and some letters still in envelopes.
Grabbing all the papers she could carry to the bed, she sat carefully so as not to disturb the bedclothes too much. She gently spread the papers in front of her and began to uncover the truth. Her parents were, in fact, not her parents after all. Her real father was one of the mysterious Nashville relatives that they never visited or discussed.
She recognized the man’s name, though, as he had recently been on the news. He was under investigation for racketeering and money laundering. She then also discovered the existence of her two older brothers: one apparently also a criminal, and the other a college student.
She spent all afternoon there, reading and re-reading the documents she found. Sometime before she expected her “parents” to be home, she gathered up all the papers to return them. She wasn’t sure how or when she wanted to confront them with this information, so she wanted to cover her tracks well.
Before she placed the documents back in the desk, she thought the drawer looked very strange to her. She ran her fingers along the sides and bottom of the drawer and discovered a section which was not completely lined up with the rest.
She gently pressed down on one corner, and the whole foundation of the drawer rose up as if on a spring. A false bottom! Carefully removing the dislodged piece of wood she could see another file folder underneath. Easing the folder from its hiding spot she wondered what could possibly warrant so much secrecy in light of all the rest she had discovered that day.
Her hands shook as she thumbed through the faded newspaper clippings inside. The woman in the photos looked just like her. The hair was styled differently and she was obviously an adult, but the resemblance was remarkable. The same red hair, the same arch of the eyebrows and bend of the nose. The article reported on the death of the woman in a car accident which was under investigation.
The next article gave an update on the investigation, stating police suspected foul play caused the accident that killed her. The third article explained the police had determined it was definitely not an accident at all, and that it was now being examined as a murder scene. There were no other clippings to explain anything else.
Her eyes focused on the date on the top of the clipping and she shook her head in disbelief. The woman had died just a few months after Dulcie was born. Underneath the clippings were a few full-color pictures of the woman. The woman looked alive, joyful, and content. The last picture was of the woman’s warm and smiling face as she looked lovingly at the tiny, sleeping, red-headed baby girl in her arms. She flipped the picture over to find someone had written “Ellie and Dulcie” on the back.
Dulcie sank to the floor with the realization she was the baby in the picture and the woman had been her mother.
And her mother had been murdered.
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