Before I Die by Jackie Morrissey
English | 2020 | Mystery & Thriller | ePUB | 2.4 MB
She’ll care for you. Until you’re dead.
When Maureen falls and injures her ankle, her daughter Alva is convinced she can no longer take care of herself and is determined to get her some help – which comes in the shape of local caregiver, Dolores.
Maureen tries to say no, she’s fine on her own, but it’s not so easy to get rid of Dolores. She seems to be everywhere, poking her nose into every corner of Maureen’s life, implying to Alva that her mother is getting senile and will soon need constant care.
Maureen feels as if she’s under siege 24/7. And she knows in her heart that there’s something not right about Dolores… But no one will listen.
Then one of Dolores’s other charges dies in mysterious circumstances and Maureen realises she may be fighting for a lot more than her independence.
Because once Dolores has you in her care, death may seem like a sweet release.
She awoke feeling vexed and confused. The late afternoon shadows had spread throughout the room while she slept. Soon, it would be dark. Wincing at her sleep-induced stiffness, she pulled herself upright in the chair with a sense of urgency and focused on the road outside. Nothing. Tears pricked her eyes. Nobody had come to help her. Nobody was coming.
She was alone.
Or was she?
A sound from behind her, a slight bump, followed by a rustling noise, sent a freezing shudder down her back. It was a sensation she had experienced as a child faced with a giant spider lurking in a corner. This was no spider, though. This was something large, perhaps human-sized. She tried to turn, but could not manoeuvre around in the chair.
‘Lola? Is that you? Why do you not speak? Lola, if you are there, talk to me.’
The room was silent. She stopped all movement and strained to catch a sound. Nothing. Or was that a breath, a sigh perhaps, coming from the far corner, the darkest shadow? She tapped the tiny hearing device in her left ear. It emitted a high-pitched ringing noise in response. It was working.
Struggling to rise, she pulled herself upright against the small table beside her chair. Leaning on it, she tried to calm her rapid, panicked heartbeat. She had to turn around. Around to face whatever it was, behind her, in the room. Her breathing was ragged from fear. Her shin banged against the table leg, and she gave a startled cry in response. The sharp pain made her drop back into the armchair, tears of despair wetting her cheeks.
‘Who is there? María Lola, speak to me. I know it is you.’
For a full minute, then two minutes, the only sound in the room was of the old woman’s quiet sobbing. Then she heard a rustling behind her, followed by an unhurried and purposeful movement across the room. It stopped just behind her. She could feel the heat of the other person’s body, almost touching her. Her head jerked as she felt a fluttering sensation, like a moth brushing past, or an exhalation of breath against her hair. With a shudder, she flapped her hands towards the disturbance, but felt nothing.
‘Peekaboo, querida madre.’ The voice was flat, expressionless. ‘Don’t you want to play? I have been sitting here all afternoon, waiting for you to wake up, but then, what’s new? I always was waiting, wasn’t I?’
The old woman cried, but made no answer. The voice continued, relentless.
‘You remember back then? I remember. Two years old, waiting for my mother. But you didn’t come. You left me there, with those nuns, while you had your nervous breakdown.’