Thriller Suspense Mystery

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

I found your secret, you were a hoarder, Natalie thought to herself. Her mums’ loft was full of cardboard boxes, over flowing with their contents. That was not the only secret she would find up here. Natalie had wondered whether she would come across some long lost artefact, a valuable treasure that may be desired by the British Museum. It was more likely that everything would be sent to a charity shop, failing that, the tip. Mum had not left much of a legacy when she died. Even the house was mortgaged to the limit, so her estate was not worth anything. 

At the back of the loft, tucked up into the rafter, Natalie found a shoe box, tied shut with a black laced ribbon. She pulled it down, coughing from the dust that fell with it. She brushed herself down and shook the box, it was not empty. Natalie moved into the light so she could see better and untied the ribbon to look inside. There was not a lot in the box, just a small diary with a heart shaped padlock on it, a picture of her dad, and a commemorative coin from Dads funeral, and a shard of glass. The coin had a cross on one side with Dads date of birth, and date of death, and on the other side was a poem. Everybody had got one. Natalie kept hers in a keepsake box at home.

The photo in the box struck her as odd, as Dad did not look happy in the picture. In fact, he looked angry and intimidating. She did not remember him that way at all. Everyone who knew her dad loved him. ‘He was the nicest man’, everyone would always say when remembering him. So why would Mum have kept this picture with that coin. She turned to the diary and tried to pull it open, but she was going to need a tool to break the lock.

Natalie had not been home the weekend her dad died, but had been staying with her nan for the school half term. Natalie was playing in the garden and her Nan called out to her to come inside. 

“Why? I’m having fun with Rosie”. Rosie was her stuffed rabbit teddy. It went everywhere with her. 

“Please child, Nanna needs to talk to you, be a good girl and come inside” 

“Sorry, Rosie, but we have to do what Nanna says. It’s the rules” she said, as she skulked inside. Nanna had been sitting on the sofa with her back to the door. She had a tissue in one hand, and when she turned, Natalie could see she had been crying. 

“What’s wrong Nanna?” 

Nanna patted the seat beside her, “come child, sit with me. I have to tell you something” she hugged Natalie as she sat down. “Before I tell you, just remember that we all love you very much, and we must all now be strong together, and support each other, OK?” 

Natalie looked up to Nanna’s big wet brown eyes, and nodded, clutching tighter to Rosie.

“Your daddy has had an accident. You know how clumsy he gets when he has had his grown up juice, right?”

Natalie nodded, “has he hurt himself?” She asked. 

Nanna nodded, “Yes my dear, hurt very badly I’m afraid. He is so badly hurt, the doctors, they can not fix him. I am so sorry my child, your daddy has died”. 

Natalie sat there staring at Rosie. It didn’t seem real. Her daddy was her world. He couldn’t be gone. The tears welled up inside and she tried to hold it back, she felt if she cried, then it would be real. The pain and grief were too much. She could feel it rising up from her stomach, overwhelming her and exploding out in a wail and tears. Nanna just held onto her, sobbing along with her. 

“How did he hurt himself Nanna?” 

Nanna would say no more than it was an accident. Natalie had learned more as she got older. Dad had been sitting on the upstairs window ledge smoking. Mr Hett, the busy body from next door, had seen him from his garden. Below the window was a conservatory Dad had built himself, with material he had salvaged from building sites. Cheap panels of glass were installed in the roof. Dad had fallen backwards out of the window and through the conservatory roof. The injuries were severe, and he lost a lot of blood, dying at the hospital. 

Natalie had grown up with just her Mum, and now she was gone too. She wiped away her tears and descended from the loft with the shoebox and its contents. Using a hammer, the one mum always kept under the kitchen sink, Natalie managed to break the lock from the diary. It was a shame, as it was an ornate looking lock. She tossed it to one side and began to skim through the words written inside. 

There was no regular pattern as to when the entries were made in the diary. Mum seemed to return to this periodically as and when she felt the need. The first dozen or so pages were neatly written, with little doodles in the margins of flowers, geometric patterns and birds. They were back from when Mum and Dad first met. Mum wrote about their first date, first kiss and first…Natalie did not need to read all the intimate details, so she skipped some. Mum was happy, she was in love. She thought it would be nice to sit down and read through it all one evening, and was about to put it back in the box, but something caught her eye as she flipped past the rest of the pages. The writing became untidy and the doodles were replaced with scribbles or circles of ink.

Natalie flicked through the diary again and stopped at the first irregular entry.

      ‘I hate him. I want to leave, but I can’t do that. No one would believe me. He hit me with his belt again today. It hurts to sit down. I try not to cry, not to give him the satisfaction, but it hurts so bad’

Natalie could not believe what she was reading. She turned a few more pages ahead.

      ‘Had to cancel the weekend away with the girls. I was so excited about going. They had arranged a spa weekend for us to have pampering and massages and swimming. He got jealous though, told me he did not want me whoring myself around and getting massages from other men. I told him if there were any male masseuses, they were going to be professionals, and I wanted to go. So he gave me a reason to stay, giving me bruises all up my arms and on the back of my legs. How can I go now?’

This was all too much for Natalie, she had to stop reading. She got a glass of water and turned at the sink, looking back at the table and the diary upon it. This was her Dad that was doing these awful things. Natalie tried to think back, tried to remember anything she may have seen or noticed, that would corroborate these entries. There was nothing. Her memory of her Dad was nothing but good, and these words were diminishing that. She wanted to stop, but felt compelled to continue. She picked the diary back up and carried on. She jumped ahead a dozen pages or so. She found an entry that just read, ‘I am free’. She turned to the next page.

      ‘He is gone, he is actually gone. We buried him today, and I feel liberated’

Natalie stopped and let out a sigh of distraught, at the thought of the hatred her Mum had for her Dad, and how wrong her memory of him must have been. She wiped away a tear and continued

      ‘There is also a sense of relief, as I think I have got away with it. It all started when he had got home from work. He was showering, getting ready for a night with the lads, or so he said. While he was in the shower, his phone alert sounded. On the screen it said 1 unread message. I knew that his laptop was still on upstairs, and that it was connected up with his phone. So I went up and had a look. The message was from Kim. It was a picture taken from the waist lying on a bed, looking down long shapely stocking clad legs to her shiny black high heel shoes, and a whip held across her thighs. The message read ‘Hope you have been a naughty boy? See you soon x’. My heart broke. I wanted to scream, yell, smash his laptop to pieces. At the same time, I felt guilty for looking at his messages. I was the one who felt guilty? I closed the laptop and went back downstairs.

      A short while later, he came down. I saw he was shaven and he was wearing a nice aftershave. The one I bought him, bastard.

      “Where are you going tonight?” I asked.

      “Out with the lads”

      “I know that, but I mean, where exactly?”

      “I don’t know, maybe the Fox and Hound, or the One Bar. What does it matter?” he said.

      I knew my next question was going to hurt me, both physically, and emotionally, but I wanted him to know I knew.

      “Will Kim be there?”

      The look in his eyes was venomous. He grabbed his phone and looked through the messages, finding the one from Kim, it was marked as read.

      “You stupid bitch, what have I told you about looking at my phone?” he said, as he round the table, coming for me. I tried to get away, but he always got me. I cried helplessly on the floor as he kicked and beat me. Even in his fury, he managed to only hit me where it could be covered by clothing. He left me then, crying on the floor, my heart broken, my body bruised’

      Natalie felt sick at reading what her Mum went through. She felt awful that she never knew, and that she had no memory of it. All these years since his death, when Natalie had been making memorials for her super loving Dad, telling everyone how great he was, Mum remained silent, and just let her believe it. Despite the horror, Natalie picked the diary back up.

      ‘He had been out for a few hours and I had managed to get myself to bed. I heard him come in, and I pretended to sleep in the spare room. Indicating to him that he could have the bedroom to himself, and meaning I did not have to be near him. I heard him come up the stairs and go to his smoking spot. He always sat in the window and had two cigarettes before bed. I heard him greet Mr Hetts down below; what that man is doing gardening at this time of night is beyond me. Then I heard his phone go.

      “Hey, yeah I am home”. He came to my door and looked in. I kept my eyes closed. “No, she is asleep. Yeah, I had great fun”. His small talk went on for a while, I knew it was her. I lay in bed hurting all over again. It literally felt like my heart was being torn apart. Then something happened, the hurt and pain began to change to anger and rage. How dare he do this to me? How dare he do this to Natalie? I got out of bed and moved silently, bare foot, to the bedroom door. I was going to wait until he had finished the call, then I was going to let it all out. He would have to kill me to stop me.

      “Yeah, sweet dreams…oh, ok, devilish dreams then” he laughed down the phone. I came out of the bedroom and saw him sitting in the window, lighting up the second cigarette. He had not seen me, and he was swaying a little, he was drunk. I began to march toward him with purpose, my fists clenched. I wanted to hit him, I wanted to hurt him like he had hurt me. I knew I was not strong enough for that. As for his heart, only a heart filled with love can be broken. A million thoughts raced through my mind. What was I doing? This was all because he had pushed me, and he had pushed me too far this time. Before I knew it, and without saying a word, I had pushed him back. His eyes widened in shock and he desperately grabbed for the window frame. I heard a crash as he went through the roof of the conservatory.

      What had I done? He would surely kill me now. I was terrified to go down, to face him, but I heard nothing. There was no movement coming from downstairs, no shouting for me. I edged down the stairs, my vision obscured by the tears, taking one step at a time. I shivered in fright. I could see the conservatory now, the roof caved in. I could also see him, laying on the floor, not moving. I could see blood. I went inside and on seeing he was not responsive, knelt beside him. I went to feel his neck, to find a pulse, and that’s when I saw the glass shard in the side of his neck. I knew I should leave it in, as to pull it out could cause blood loss and reduce his chance of survival. Then again, if he survived, how long would I? I looked at his face and found myself overcome once more with hatred and anger. I took hold of the glass shard, and pulled it out. Blood oozed from the wound in spurts. I watched as the spurts began to slow and dwindle.

      There was knocking at the door, blue flashing lights lit the dark. Turns out Mr Hetts had still been up and had heard the crash, so he had called the police. Two officers came in after knocking through the door to find me, kneeling in the blood of my husband.

      The verdict was death by misdemeanour. He was drunk and fell out of a window, dying from the lacerations from the non-regulation glass he had himself installed on the conservatory. It did mean that life insurance did not pay out, but it did not matter. I would no longer be beaten, no longer under his control. It was just me and Natalie now, and that is all I need.’

Natalie put the diary down, her hands shaking. Her Dads death was no accident, he had been murdered, by her Mum. The shoebox was open on the table with the picture and the shard of glass inside. Natalie felt sick, she wondered, was that the shard Mum pulled from Dads neck? Everything she thought she knew about both of her parents was a lie. They had shown her nothing but love, and both left her with nothing but happy memories of one another. But in fact, they had both been filled with anger and hate, and had kept dark secrets from her all her life.

Now she had to decide what to do with this revelation. 

November 17, 2021 23:21

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Sakaram Puddoo
17:46 Nov 26, 2021

I like the story, craftily written. The mysterious episodes linked to the shard of glass triggered shocking facts to Nathalie about the weird relationship between her dad and mom. She couldn't believe that her loving dad could treat her mom so violently and where the rage of a victimized woman could lead to. As the diary unfolded the secrets about her parents, it responded aptly to her nostalgia .


Greg Short
06:32 Nov 27, 2021

Thank you, I am pleased you enjoyed the story.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Mykita Martin
22:05 Nov 24, 2021

I really like this story line, the plot was very well written. The hook at the beginning was really really good. I like the love/hate relationship of Natalie’s mom loving Natalie’s dad, but hating him. It was full of twists and turns and followed the nostalgia theme very well. I loved it, 8.7/10


Greg Short
06:33 Nov 27, 2021

Thank you for your kind comments. Glad you enjoyed the story.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in Reedsy Studio. 100% free.