Snow fell lightly on the rooftops. The grass was all white and from afar the sound of jingle bells could be heard. Outside a small cottage in Chicago, there stood a tall Christmas tree which had been beautifully decorated. On top of the tree was a huge sparkling star and around it were lights that went on and off. People often admired it as they passed by.
To Amanda Harris, Christmas was the most beautiful time of the year. A time to give to the needy, spend time with her loved ones, wrap gifts for friends and family and send donations for charity. She did not have much but she loved giving. This year however, Christmas would be completely different.
Amanda Harris was a tall, beautiful young lady with blue eyes, long blonde hair, an eye-catching smile and a breath-taking personality. She had a model-like physique coupled with an hour glass figure. Thirty two year-old Amanda sat still at her fireplace with a cup of chamomile tea in her left hand and stared blankly as bitter-sweet memories continued flooded her mind.
Six months ago, she had lost her husband and their two children in a road accident. Amanda’s husband James W Harris had been driving their children to school when the fatal accident occurred. Amanda remembered how she’d kissed her children goodbye and reminded them to carry their lunch. She had told James to make sure he called her when he reached the court where he had worked as an attorney. About an hour later, a call came in from an unknown number.
“Hello?” she had said.
“Mrs. Harris?” It was a man’s voice. He sounded sympathetic.
“Yes? This is she.” Her voice was shaky and her heart palpitated as if in anticipation of bad news.
“I am Michael Davis, a senior detective at the Chicago Police Unit. Your husband and two children were involved in a road accident a while ago,”
She had shouted and paced around the living room in utter shock and disbelief. Her whole world suddenly came crashing down on her.
“Please calm down Mrs. Harris. I am here at Chicago General Hospital with your husband. He survived the crash. We will need you to come here as soon as you can. You also needed to identify if the casualties are your children.”
It was the same hospital Amanda worked as a night shift nurse.
She immediately got into her car and sped to the hospital. Deep in her heart she hoped it was a mistake. The officer might be mistaken. James was a slow and careful driver. He hardly took his eyes off the road. Something was terribly wrong. So many questions ran through her mind. If he was dead, could it have been a murder? Were there secrets he had been keeping from her?
At the hospital entrance, a man and lady in police uniform had asked her if she was Mrs. Harris. She nodded. They took her hand and she was following them. Her sight had been blurry. She could see human-like figures walk past and towards her. Then she stopped in front of the emergency unit. A tall huge man with spectacles and a notebook gave her a handshake and introduced himself as Michael Davis. He had been accompanied by a woman in a white coat and surgical gloves who took the gloves off and greeted Amanda.
“You need to sit down,” the doctor said to Amanda.
“Is he dead?”
The doctor got hold of Amanda’s right hand and before she could answer, Amanda’s eyes had landed on a pale man lying on a hospital bed being pushed towards them.
Amanda had screamed. She had followed James corpse begging him not to leave her and the doctors had held her begging her to calm down.
The next day, her parents, James father and his stepmother, her best friend Catherine Herding and Catherine’s cousin Bess accompanied Amanda to identify her children’s bodies. It was a painful moment which Amanda could never forget. She recalled her son’s dislocated hand and her daughter just laying there with her eyes closed. She recalls how her mother held her tight in her arms as Amanda shed tears. Those are memories that would not go away.
“My son was always the most careful. Lord knows how this happened.” There was devastation in James father’s voice. Was he thinking the same as Amanda? Could it be murder? Attorneys had so many enemies. God knows what could have happened and whatever this was, Amanda vowed to find out.
The burial was on the 1st of July. A dull Friday morning. Many had gathered. Friends and relatives of the deceased. There were several new faces to Amanda. Some were James’s relatives whom she had not met, others were his colleagues, some friends, and others were her children’s teachers and a few students. Amanda’s colleagues from Chicago General Hospital had come too. Catherine Herding and Bess had come to give their condolences, James’s father and stepmother were their too as well as Amanda’s parents who stood right behind their daughter. Amanda’s eyes were dark and swollen. The past one week had been extremely painful for her. They sang the Amazing Grace with tears falling from her eyes.
“James,” Amanda begun her speech. “ he taught me so much. Love, a love so genuine, patience, strength, courage. He stood by me in good times and bad times. The past seven years of marriage were the best years of my life. Look at me, I am now here standing in front of the coffins of my husband and children. Sometimes I wish I was with them too. My children, I wish God could have given them at least thirty more years. But who am I to tell God what to do? Thank you all for coming. This is a sad moment for us all. They were good people. I am certain that they are with the lord. May their souls rest in peace.” She placed roses on their coffins and joined the rest.
Roses were put on the coffin. It began to drizzle as dark clouds assembled. Amanda felt her feet become cold. She recalled looking behind. Her eyes met another woman’s eyes. The other woman quickly looked away but Amanda did not. She carefully studied the woman whose eyes were now fixed on the ground. The woman put on her hat.
“Are you alright dear?” Amanda’s mother asked her.
“Yes!” Amanda lied.
The burial ended and when Amanda looked around, the woman was gone.
( watch out for chapter two 😉 )