“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” seems to be a correct assumption when it comes to the Kelly family. All of my children seem to gravitate to the interests and talents that, I myself, have indulged in since childhood: writing, art, reading, etc. When my eldest daughter, Reilly, wrote her first story for her Creative Writing class this school year, I was pleased to find that it was a mystery tale based on the horrid double-murder in Fall Creek, Massachusetts, of which Lizzie Borden was suspected (yet never convicted) and became so infamous for.

I was even more pleased – no, elated – when I read her story and discovered what a genuine way with words she possessed and a definite talent for the art and mechanics of writing. Her Creative Writing teacher was so impressed, that she took Reilly’s story home to enjoy again and share with her family. To say that I’m proud of this story — one of Reilly’s first achievements at crafting a compelling and emotional tale – is an understatement. And so I decided to present it here, for your reading pleasure. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

 

Crime of Passion

By Reilly Kelly

 

It has been a mystery for 36 years… almost four decades have passed. It was one of the most gruesome crimes in American history. But this is where the accusations shall stop.

I am Elizabeth Borden, daughter of the infamous Lizzie Borden. When I was a girl, my mother always proclaimed her innocence, though she never explained what really happened. My family has been hated for over three decades, but it stops now. My mother told me she didn’t commit those crimes and I believed her. I am going to clear her name.

As I stood in front of my grandparents’ home in Fall Creek, Massachusetts, a spell of nausea hit me like a train. The feeling passed as soon as it came. The house was dark and dreary. I heard a rumble of thunder behind me, but I ignored it. The beautiful home of a wealthy business man and his family was now reduced to an old, abandoned house. I closed my eyes and thought about my mother. It had been a year since her passing; life was different in 1928. I missed her more than words could explain. I felt a drop of water fall to my face as I opened my eyes. Walking to the door of my grandparents’ home, I ignored the fact that it was pouring down rain. I took hold of the door knob and felt the cool brass in my hand. I take a deep breath and entered what was once a place of horror.

A cloud of dust rose as I opened the door. I stepped into my family home, removed my coat, and set down my bags. There was a mirror to my left; it was dirty and neglected. I wiped away the dust with my crisp white gloves. The woman I saw in the mirror was not the young girl I once was. She was a beautiful young woman, although her face was slightly worn from stress. Her dark auburn hair was pulled back into a sleek bun. Thirty-five years on this earth does a lot to a person. I took the hat pin from my hair, removed my hat, and carefully placed it on the table in front of the mirror. I turned around and walked to each of the windows, and, with some effort, forced the boards from the frames. Light flooded into the parlor, illuminating the furniture covered in white sheets. One piece was missing… the couch my grandfather was murdered on. I walked to the space next to the wall and closely inspected it. There were dark red, almost burgundy, splatters upon the plaster. A disturbing thought remains in the back of my mind. What if my mother did kill them? My whole life would have been a waste. I had spent a year trying to fulfil my mother’s dying wish. She wished for me to know the truth, but she wouldn’t tell me herself. I had bought my grandparents’ home and would finally know what happened to them. It was the only thing I had ever wanted.

I made my way to the front staircase and climbed the steps, listening to the creaking of the wood beneath my feet. Before I reached the landing, I saw the room my grandmother was killed in. I stepped onto the landing and admired the beautiful carpet. I opened the door and stepped through the doorway. The furnishings were covered in white sheets. I walked around the Victorian-style bed and crouched to the floor to study the carpet. There was a patch of the same burgundy red splatter. A lone tear rolled down my face as I stood up. Who could have possibly done this? I was reassured that my mother could have never committed an act so heinous. I went back downstairs and retrieved my camera. I spent the next couple of hours taking in-depth photographs of the murder scenes, then of the rest of the house.

I set down my camera and looked out one of the many windows. The rain was pouring down. I looked at my Studebaker Coupe with all my belongings inside. Evening approached and the rain had not stopped. I put on my coat and hat and made my way to my car. Box by box, I took in all of my belongings. By the time I had everything in the house, I was soaking wet. I emptied a box and placed my coat in it. I took my hat and gloves off and put them back on the table. I regarded the house and thought about how much work I had ahead of me. I was there to find out what happened to my family, but I would also be living there, so I knew I might as well make it my own.

~*~

Over the next few days, I cleaned the house and restored it to its previous grandeur. I decided that I would stay in my mother’s room. I couldn’t bring myself to sleep in my grandmother’s murder room.

Early on Wednesday morning, I decided to purchase a couch to cover that dreadful blood stain on the wall. I walked out and locked the door behind me. As I strolled to my car, I saw an older woman in her mid-50’s staring my way. When our eyes met, I gave her a friendly smile. She turned around and ran inside. Thinking about how strangely the woman behaved, I got into my car and drove into town.

I pulled in front of a small general store with three lonesome gas pumps out front. I walked into the store and went to the counter where an elderly man stood.

“Good Morning ma‘am, How may I help you?” he said.

“Hello, sir. I would like to order a couch for my new home,” I told him.

The man pulled out a glossy catalog and sat it on the counter before me. I found a couch I liked and then the man handed me an order form. I filled it out and handed it back to him.

“When could you have it delivered?” I asked.

“It will be about week, ma‘am.” He studied my order form and his face suddenly turned ghostly white. “Ma’am, is this the correct address?” he asked.

I nodded my head.

“That house is haunted! Do you know what happened there?” he whispered.

“Sir, I am certain that is my address and ‘yes’ I was already informed of what had happened there. Please have the couch delivered by next week. Good day to you.”

I stormed out of the store, not even bothering to look back at the old man. Why do I keep my identity as Lizzie Borden’s daughter a secret? I knew how the people here felt about my family. I had lived there most of my life. About 5 years before my mother’s death, we moved to Connecticut. As I returned to my car, everyone who was in the store lined the windows, watching me leave.

I returned home later that day, after running a few errands. When I pulled into the driveway, I found that the door was wide open. I got out of my car and ran into the house. No one was there. I walked the entire house with a fireplace poker in my hand. The house was empty; nothing was out of place or stolen. I put the poker away and walked to my room. I sat down on my bed and took a deep breath. I looked at the floor. The rug was disturbed.

I stood up and slowly walked to the edge of the rug. I lifted it up and flipped it over. There was a large brass ring, tarnished green with age, set into the wood. I grabbed hold of it and pulled. It didn’t budge. The curiosity inside my head was screaming at me to pull harder. Heart pounding, I yanked as hard as I could. The large door finally swung open and a cloud of dust arose all around me. I stepped back and coughed a few times. When the dust settled, I stepped forward once again and looked into the hole in the floor. There was a secret compartment about two feet deep. As I bent over the trap door I saw a box with the initials LB… Lizzie Borden. I lifted the box from the compartment and set it to the side. I closed the door and sat on my bed with my treasure. I unlatched the box and carefully opened it. There were several personal belongings such as a hairbrush, a bottle of perfume, and a fountain pen. Under all the other things was an envelope. I carefully pulled out the worn paper and unfolded it. The letter read:

My Dearest Lizzie,

My love for you is as vast as the seas. There is nothing in this world that will keep me from you. We will be together soon.

Forever Yours,

Your Lover

I reread the letter several times. My mother never mentioned having a lover in her youth. I wondered who he could have been. My father had died in a plane crash, or so she had told me. My mother hardly spoke of him. In fact she never spoke of him at all, unless I asked. Who could this lover be?

~*~

Later that week, my couch arrived. To my surprise, the old man came to deliver itpersonally. The man was old and feeble, and he had two strapping, young gentlemen bringing the couch. The old man approached me and said, “Ma’am, I am so sorry for my bluntness the other day. I hardly meant to offend you.”

I told him it was alright and not to worry about it.

“I have lots of memories concerning this house.” whispered the old man. Then he turned and walked away.

Puzzled by what he had said, I started toward him. Then I stopped myself. What are you doing Elizabeth? He’s a crazy old man. He probably doesn’t even know his first name.

As the truck pulled away I heard a roar of thunder. “Again? It has been raining all week…” I ran back into the house before the rain began to pour down. I mounted the stairway to my room and laid on my bed. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

I am standing in front of the house. It is crisp white and incredibly beautiful. I walk forward to see my mother standing in the doorway. She is crying. I walk closer. I hear screams coming from the parlor. It is my grandfather. I have only seen pictures of him. He is shouting at my mother, although I can’t make out what he is saying. I am standing in front of my mother and she obviously cannot see me. Is this a dream? I walk past my mother and I see both of my grandparents. My grandfather continues to yell, I can make out a few words. “I forbade you from seeing that boy, but you disobeyed. Get out!”

I woke up to a knock on the door. I was covered in a cold sweat and shaking. I got out of bed and went downstairs. When I opened the door, there stood the old man. “Ma’am, I forgot to give you your receipt.”

I took the receipt from him and thanked him. Out of nowhere the man gave me a hug. “You remind me of someone.” A tear rolled down the man’s face. “Thank you, Good night.” The man left my doorstep and I closed the door. Yes, he was definitely out of his mind.

I walked over to my new couch and sat down. I thought about the strange dream I had just had. Was it real? Or was it just a dream? I sat, puzzled. What boy was my mom forbidden to see? Did the same boy write her the love letter? So many questions circled my mind.

~*~

Days passed without another dream. I longed to find out who this boy was and why they were not allowed to be together. I decided to take a drive. I drove to the general store. When I walked inside, the old man wasn’t there. I walked over to the counter and looked for him. He was nowhere in sight. I left the store wondering where he had gone. Bewildered, I headed home. When I walked in the door, I sat down on my couch. I laid my head down and fell asleep.

There I am. In front of the crisp, white house once again. It is unreasonably hot outside. I walk toward the house. Inside lies my grandfather … asleep. This is the day he will be murdered. Out of the corner of my eye, I see movement. I walk toward it. It is my mother. She is burying something. She smoothed the dirt with her hands and then stood up and entered the house. I follow my mother inside. I see her pick up a bloody hatchet and walk toward my grandfather. I began screaming… screaming at her to stop.

I sat straight up on my couch with tears in my eyes. My mother killed them. This was too real to be a dream. Someone was showing me something. Was it my mother? Was it my grandparents?

I went outside to the exact spot where my mother had buried the mysterious object. I cried as I began to dig in the soil and mud with my hands. I hit my hand on something hard. I pulled out a small wooden box. I opened the box, and there lay another letter. I pulled it out and read:

My Child,

You have not been brought into this world yet, and you will probably never read this letter. But you need to know who you are and where you came from. I was forbidden to see a boy. There was nothing wrong with this boy; father just did not approve. This boy was a worker at the store in town and Father said he was not fit for me. I ignored him, I was in love. Well, I am now pregnant with you, my darling. I told father and mother and they disowned me. I cannot be disowned. I must take care of you. That is why I have to do this. It is out of love. I went to the store to talk to him, but he wasn’t there. Father had paid him to leave town and never to speak to me again. They cannot live after what they have done to me! My darling, I love you and I hope that someday you may forgive me for this act I am about to commit.

With all the love in the world,

Lizzie

 

I heard a twig snap behind me. I whipped my head around. There stood the old man from the general store.

“What are you doing here? Please go away!” I yelled.

“That letter in your hand… it says that your father worked at the store in town, doesn’t it?” he asked.

I stared at him in a puzzled manner. How could he have possibly known that?

“I came back here after your mother died and bought the store that I worked in as a boy. I told you that you reminded me of someone…” he said.

“You’re my Father? “ I whispered.

The old man simply nodded and, with a smile, took my hand.