Page 13 of Daisy Darker

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The granddaughters were a blessing at first, but her hopes soon hit a wall.

The first was too clever, the second too daft, so the third was her only hope.

But the child was born with a broken heart, and Nana knew she’d never cope.

Nana led a rather lonely life with a dog for a best friend.

She started to fear that death was near, thanks to a palm reader in Land’s End.

When the time came, no one knew who to blame when she was found with a blow to the head.

It was hard to grieve for a woman so peeved; at least one of them was glad she was dead.


October 31, 12:15 a.m.

less than six hours until low tide

“Who found her?” Rose asks, looking at everyone until her eyes come to rest on Trixie. “Was it you?” Rose is better with animals than she is with children, and Trixie starts to cry again. She looks so small and vulnerable in her pink pajamas. I have an overwhelming urge to hug her when she takes off her glasses with one hand and uses the other to wipe away her tears. Rose adjusts her tone. “Can you tell us what happened?” Trixie does her best to answer between sobs.

“I just came down to get a glass of water. Nana was… on the floor. When I touched her… she was cold. When I said her name… she didn’t answer.” She starts to cry again.

“We need to call the police,” says Conor.

“What on earth for?” asks Lily. “It’s obvious what happened here.”

“Is it?” he asks.

“Yes. A chair is turned on its side. Nana was obviously using itto stand on while writing one of her bonkers poems on the chalk wall, and she must have slipped.”

“I don’t think we can know that for sure,” Conor replies.

“Well, whatIknow is that you’re a crime reporter, not a detective, and nobody asked your opinion anyway,” says Lily. “This is a family matter. You are not family, and I don’t even understand what you’re doing here.” Even for Lily, this is rude.

“What I’m doing right now is wondering why an elderly woman I cared very much about is lying on the floor, looking as though someone has bashed her head in with a blunt instrument.” He turns to Rose. “What doyouthink happened?”

She stares down at the kitchen tiles, as if she can’t look him in the eye. “I think Nana just died and I’m very upset. I’m sure we all are. Like Lily said, I’m a vet, not a doctor.” She glares at him, and I’m glad I’m not Conor. “This is not the time for any of your conspiracy theories or wild accusations. Nana was never anything but kind to you, welcoming you into her home and our family. Try to show a little respect and compassion if you haven’t completely forgotten how.”

Rose turns away from him and hugs Lily and Trixie, both of whom are now crying. I go to stand next to them, as though silently choosing sides.

“I’m going to miss her so much,” I say, unable to imagine life without Nana in it.

“I just can’t believe she’s gone,” says Lily.

Rose holds her closer. “I know. Neither can I, but she lived a long and happy life and we will get through this. Someone needs to tell Dad what has happened.” Rose has always looked at the rest of the family as a problem with no obvious solution, a problem she doesn’t quite know how to solve. When nobody else replies or makes a move, she sighs. “I guess that’ll be me then.”

We all watch as she leaves the kitchen and pauses in the hallway, outside the door to the music room, where our father chose to sleep. Rose’s head is as tightly tucked in as her shirt. She stares down at the floor, and I can almost hear her mind whirring. The music room was one of the few places we were never allowed to play in when we were young. Rose hesitates before knocking, like the little girl she used to be, the one who was afraid of getting shouted at for interrupting her father’s work.

She knocks and we all wait, but there is no answer.

Rose knocks again, before gently turning the handle and pushing the door open.

“The room is empty,” she says, looking back at us all. “The camp bed hasn’t been slept in. Dad isn’t here, and neither are his things.”

Lily rushes forward and grabs Rose’s hand, just like she did when we were children. “I know he was upset about Nana and the will, but you don’t think that—”

“Let’s try not to jump to conclusions,” says Rose, even though I’m sure we’ve all hurdled over several. “I’m going to find a sheet to cover Nana’s body. I’d rather remember her the way she was. Can someone else go upstairs and wake Nancy?”

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