Sheena Kamal was born in the Caribbean and immigrated to Canada as a child. She holds an HBA in political science from the University of Toronto, and has most recently worked as a researcher for the film and television industry. Her debut suspense novel Eyes Like Mine has been sold in over a dozen countries and is published in the U.K. by Bonnier Zaffre.
They stared at the face, uncovered.
That’s her, said Esme.
Don’t be daft, said her husband. He walked away from the body on the slab.
Esme did not follow him. She confirmed her daughter’s identity to the police and got a cup of peppermint tea from across the road before going back to the car, where her husband waited.
The car ride back home was tense.
He made their afternoon meal, as he always did these days, but left the stir fry on the stove before she came down from her shower. Esme heard him in the basement, puttering around. He came upstairs with his golf clubs, announced he was going to play a few holes, uh huh, and left. Refusing to stay, refusing to grieve a daughter he didn’t want to say goodbye to.
She had expected something like this. He had been having an affair for three years now. She had become suspicious when he took up cooking and golf almost simultaneously. She’d canceled his golf membership after one year, and he still hadn’t noticed.
Nicole had told her that he was cheating, which Esme had denied, of course, because it wasn’t any of their daughter’s business. Besides, it was better this way. Imagine if he had taken up cooking and then stuck around to harass her each afternoon?
With Nicole gone, Esme was free. She loved her daughter, but when jewellery started to go missing, when her husband began sneaking money from their account to give to Nicole, when Nicole began running away from home whenever the mood struck, when Esme had come home early one day to find her teenaged daughter’s beautiful face buried in some jock’s crotch, her lovely dark hair held up in a sweaty male fist… it was all too much for Esme. Her life in this country was a joke. This was not the dream she’d had when she moved up here, at first taking a job as a maid. It had seemed a stroke of luck that she met her husband right away, in this very house. He had been married to someone else then, but he was open to straying and had never changed.
Esme got her suitcase out from storage and packed clothes that were lightweight, brightly coloured and in breathable fabrics. When the cab came to take her the airport, she made sure she had the deed to the land back home and all the proper information to access her accounts. She had always been good with money. So much so that her husband never noticed how much of his she took over the years. The sum was nothing to him, but amounted to a small fortune where she was from–and she knew how to stretch a dollar, especially on her island, where she could live like a queen.
She left, thinking of the young woman on the slab. Her husband was right. It wasn’t Nicole. But the life insurance company didn’t have to know that. Her daughter was still alive somewhere and, Esme knew, would come looking for her if she ever came to her senses. Maybe they could make new dreams together, if it wasn’t too late.
Sheena can be reached via her Facebook page.