Zorine Ingram struggles with being a good sister and killing off her unappreciative siblings.


Crime / Suspense / Mystery / Thriller


Annette Taylor (United States)

~~Annette Taylor
22 Merrimac Drive
Portsmouth, VA 23704
(757) 295-0351
[email protected]

by Annette Taylor

About 1,130 word

Chapter One
Zorine Ingram Faulkner sipped Earl Gray tea on a small taupe sofa. Hot liquid went down her throat, soothing overwrought nerves brought on by her brother’s death. Mourners crowded her sister-in-law’s living room, hall, and spilled out through three French doors. Most were business associates. The remainder family from both sides. Quite a turnout for a man nobody liked. A domineering man. A mocking, selfish, mean man who however did possess a rough charm that generally got him what he wanted. Zorine sipped Earl Grey again and wondered how everyone would react if they knew: I let Stock die. Would they rush forward to shake her hand or feign horror and draw away?
Tea sloshed when she shivered so she set the cup down while she composed herself. The thought returned: I let Stock die. When she calmed down, she picked up the tea cup.
Mourners talked among themselves. Their combined voices serving as white noise. Noise that hypnotized her. Muted her surroundings. Made her remember . . .

It had happened in a restored Georgian house that all eight siblings jointly owned. Zorine and Stock stood in the drawing room.
“Who are you to teach my daughter to defy me?” he asked.
“What are you talking about? I didn’t---“
“You did.” His eyes narrowed. “My eldest child came to me and asked if she could go on a group date with some friends. Blair knows neither she nor her sisters can date until they’re eighteen.”
“She asked my opinion Stock.”
“Which you felt compelled to give.
Zorine felt her internal temperature drop several degrees. “Blair used me as a sounding board. We thought---
“No, you thought. My daughters know that I think for them. They hold no opinions other than mine or act without my permission.”
“But Stock---“
“But Stock. But Stock,” he mimicked his sister. “But nothing.” He pointed his index finger a ruler’s length from her nose. “You’re getting too attached to Blair. She doesn’t need another mother. A three month break should teach both of you a lesson in obedience.”
He turned away and headed for the doorway.
“Don’t take Blair away from me!”
Zorine rushed after Stock just as his foot crossed the threshold and grabbed hold of his suit jacket.
“Stop, you crazy bitch!” He pushed her backward. “It’s Ava’s fault you don’t have any children, not mine!” He pushed her again.
Zorine stumbled backward on her heels and plumped on the floor. She tried to rise when Stock moved toward her but he pushed her again.
“Please Stock.”
At every attempt she made to rise, he pushed her back down. His lips drew back from his teeth.
“Stop it!”
He stopped. Not because she begged him to. Slightly bent forward from the waist with his hand on her shoulder for one more push, his face had grown ashen, sweat rolled down his forehead, his body stiffened. He erected himself and placed a hand on his chest. He dropped to his knees. Zorine scrambled further back. He looked at her with glassy eyes.
“Help me.”
Panic drove her from the drawing room with tear-blinded eyes. Her shoulder hit the doorjamb. She backed up then cleared it, not even feeling any pain. She made her way outside and jumped into her car. She locked all four doors and went on a crying jag.
When Zorine finally stopped crying, she knew she must go back inside to see about Stock. She felt weak and heavy as she climbed the stairs to the restored Georgian house. He lay on his side dead. Panic flowed through her body again. She fumbled for her cell phone and called 9-1-1.

. . . White noise slowly gave way to individual sounds. A male voice behind her. A pair of women talking in the foreground. People moving around. Sounds of chafing dishes and plates, utensils and the pause when people had food in their mouths.
“Hi, Aunt Z. You feeling okay?
Zorine’s body jerked. A motion that rattled the empty tea cup on its saucer. A hand reached down, steadied it then placed it out of harm’s way on the coffee table.
“Aunt Z? Are you alright?”
She looked up. Her niece, Blair looked down worriedly at her.
“I should be asking you that question.” Joy spread through her at sight of the girl.
Blair sat down beside her aunt. They held hands.
“But you found Dad and just now your face was all white and drawn.”
Zorine patted the sixteen-year-old’s hand. How she loved this girl. So lovely, so well-mannered but a little solemn.
“I do feel bereft but my feelings don’t compare to what all of you must feel. How’s your mother?”
“Mom’s holding up well for now. It’s when we’re alone that worries me.”
“Don’t worry, Blair. I’ll help all I can.”
Blair kissed her aunt’s cheek. “Thanks.” She stood and smoothed down her sedate, navy dress. “I’ll see you before you leave. I’ve got to keep an eye on you know who.” She eyed her aunt significantly before heading off into the crowd of mourners.
People parted before Blair to let her pass. They closed behind her with no pause in their conversation or their eating. Blair went in search of her youngest sister. Stock’s female counterpart. The one favored above her sisters. The one who needed discipline and constant supervision to forestall acquisition of her dear, departed daddy’s habits.
How did her sister-in-law feel about Stock’s death? Sadness? Relief? Catatonic? Once Mildred had let slip the fact that Stock expected sex every day. The exceptions to that rule were menstruation, pregnancy or illness. Small wonder poor Mildred always seemed tired and close to tears. Also why they had six daughters. Maybe Stock’s death was not such a tragedy. His family would be better off, even flourish, without him.
The remaining Ingram siblings were scattered around the living room. Ava, Damaris, Reed, Lyndall, Wayne, and Conover. All flawed but Zorine knew their triumphs, their tragedies, their secrets. And helped them with every one. With Stock’s death a blot on her soul, she needed redemption. The first step of which was loving those flawed siblings more than ever. Love them despite their mistreatment. Their unresponsiveness and rejection of her sisterly affection. Be guardian angel to them all.
Zorine spotted her assistant, Hayley Goransson. She had been out of sorts lately. Zorine would ask about what was bothering her once life was back to normal. Hayley and Blair were like daughters to her. Two she might have had if Ava—don’t think about it, she told herself. It’s all spilt milk. No sense in crying over it.

Competition: June 2015 Pen Factor, Round 1



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