Content Warning: Post-Natal Depression.
Here is the Fiction Relay page, where you can find all of the posts., and here is the link to the last installment.
Please check out Posy Churchgates catch up post here, and then read the synopsis in italics below:
After Pete leaves, Carla goes to meet Ken Blake and is angry when he doesn’t show. She thinks it is just another one of his mind games and ways of keeping a hold over her, as he has since she was a pre-teen — their relationship had been dark from the get-go. On her way home, she bumps into Bill and after looking at the evidence he has hoarded all these years, encourages him to go to the police as he had been intending.
Steve does not recover from his injuries following the head trauma sustained from his fight with Yarnold, and dies once the life support is withdrawn.
Bill insists on speaking with Detective Walker, where he reveals the 2 flight tickets to Oslo, dated for 8 days after her murder, that he’d found in the alley behind Susie’s house on the day of her murder. One with the name of Susie clearly marked, the other has been partially destroyed by the elements and only the ‘mr’ part of the name is visible.
Walker contacts the airline and discovers the names of the passengers, and it’s not two, but three passengers; Susan Edwards, Elenor Wilson and Peter Wilson.
As Ellie is leaving the hospital following the death of Steve, Sergeant Pinting asks her to come to the station to make a statement
Detective Walker learns that another set of prints is on the gun that killed Ken Blake as well as the fact that Sonia actually bought the tickets in an attempt to get Susie out of town. Ellie leaves the police station and meets Dave. After talking, they head to the apartment unaware they are being followed. They find Yarnold’s body and Ellie confesses to Dave that she made a terrible mistake. They can’t cover their tracks though as their tale confronts them at the crime scene.
We also discover the depths of Carla’s ongoing obsession with the murdered reporter, Ken Blake, and her involvement in Susie’s demise.
“Have you ever been so caught up in your own needs that you completely drop the ball in other areas? I have, and I will never forgive myself.”
Sonia was sitting across the dining room table from Billy.
They both had steaming hot mugs of tea and, for a moment, she was grateful for the distraction as he sipped a too hot mouthful and spluttered tea over the table.
She waited patiently for him to dry up the mess and then she started.
“That day, you, know, THAT day…” Trailing off as solitary tear forged a path down her left cheek.
Billy reached across and wiped it away with his thumb, “Go on” he says, gently.
“I blame myself, I should have known better. Done better. I should have been a more attentive mum” a sharp inhalation, more tears, “I knew what she was like. Feisty, exuberant and incredibly flirtatious. She had all the boys after her, and I knew she was fooling around but… I couldn’t accept the rumours were true”
He came round and sat next to her, wrapping his arm around her shoulders, “Come on love, don’t be so hard on yourself. You weren’t to blame.”
“Oh, but I was. Maybe indirectly, but I could have done more. I could have….”
Lost in her own memories Sonia drew breath and continued.
“I had first seen him in the summer of 1993. Just another boy on the streets, kicking about with Ell’s big brother. You know who I mean, Pete? Steve, Dan’s son. It was the first time I had seen him all grown up. I never expected to see him again you see, though I wondered if our paths might cross at some point. Dan was working this way now, though it was easy enough to keep clear. So, Steve. I would often see him in the summer holidays, I guessed he would come to see his dad. But the first time I saw him there was no doubt.”
“No doubt about what?” interrupted Billy.
“You remember the baby that I lost before I settled down with Dave? Well… Fuck…” her shoulders start to tremble as her story spills out of her mouth for the very first time “he never died Billy. He was alive and kicking. I lost myself when he was born, tumbled into deep depression. It is so well spoken about now, but back then it wasn’t, nobody mentioned it. I loved him, but I couldn’t do anything right. I wasn’t the mum he deserved and he knew it.
“There was no-one I could talk to, nobody that I could ask for help. Every time I touched the baby he would cry. My milk wouldn’t come in so I failed him there too. Dan’s parents were so helpful, they did everything. They fed him the bottle while I struggled to face each new day. I knew that I could never give him what he needed so one night I packed up a little bag and left. I didn’t want to be a burden on them anymore. They were already doing so much for my little man, they didn’t need me to add to that. And he was so well cared for, better than I ever could…”
The depression had lasted for years. She had settled with Dave, found a more comfortable life in his company. And then Susie had arrived. The addition of a beautiful little baby girl numbing the pain of leaving her boy.
Billy looked at the woman he thought of as his soul mate. Over the years they had shared everything, or so he thought. But he knew why she couldn’t have told him this. It was so painful for her, and would have been put away in a safe place in her memory store. The news of that wretched reporters death had brought back memories for all of them, but with the papers headlining the “death of the reporter who kept the memory of little Susie alive” and the murder of “local hero who died protecting his fiance” it couldn’t have been harder on Sonia. Now, as he watched her sip from her cooling mug he wondered how she had managed for so long. No matter, he thought, I can hold her now. And he did. He sat and held her in his arms as she continued:
“But she grew up so fast Billy, you remember how she blossomed in the spring of ’95?” No answer necessary here, just a nod, “well, Dave and I would have blazing rows. He couldn’t see it, that his daughter was anything less than a little angel. And so I thought it must just be me. Over thinking things, in the way that Dave always told me I did”
“Only, it wasn’t. And I tried to reason with her. I didn’t want her to end up as I had been, pregnant at a young age and unable to cope. I was going to try and catch her in the act and bring her home. Dave wouldn’t be able to say I was imagining things then… I booked some tickets, once I had confronted her Pete was going to chaperone her on a flight to Oslo. Ellie would be going too, though it would be a surprise for her. I needed to get Susie to safety. From the boys in town, but more importantly from herself.”
“But then I saw Steve. He was back again. And it brought back everything. I knew I needed to try and make things right, to get to know the handsome young man I had completely disregarded years before. Things hadn’t been right with Dave for so long. You know, you were there.” Billy nodded, he remembered the way they used to rut like horny teenagers at every opportunity. A smirk leaking onto his lips as he recalled the first time he had fucked her ass. On the bed she shared with her husband.
“I sent a letter to dan, at his station. A simple one saying:
Dearest Dan – I made a mistake. Please take me back. Love, S.
I’d scrawled my number on the envelope, though I daresay he could have looked me up easily enough. He called and asked to see me that night. I had planned on catching Susie that night but figured that one more day wouldn’t hurt. She hadn’t come home for tea, but this was not out of character for her. I called round her friends and no-one knew where she was. I suspected Ellie did, but they were thick as thieves! Slipping out that evening, I told Dave I would be back once I had exhausted the search for our little girl. But what I really did was sneak off to that viewpoint we go to. You know the one? Where we can see for miles and watch the birds?”
It was somewhere that Billy knew well, she had always loved it there.
And he loved the way Sonia lit up when they visited.
“It turned into more than the conversation I had expected. We kissed, and rubbed each other through the flimsy clothing. He was everything I remembered, except for the tang of whisky on his breath. I was tongue tied Billy. What I wanted was to ask if I could see Steve, instead I asked if I could take him in my mouth” Sonia filled Billy in with the blanks, her guilt flowed. She hadn’t gone straight home, instead delivering a second note asking to see him again in a couple of days. And then she went home.
Still no sign of Susie.
She slept fitfully that night. Thoughts of her two children running through her head, not leaving space for her dreams.
And when she woke in the morning, Sonia’s whole world would be changed forever.
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