Everyone remembers a celebrity’s death: Elvis, Lennon, Bowie — in my case Mrs Milford’s. And, even though I was at school when she died, I take full responsibility for her death.
She was a formidable woman, the eyes and ears of the terrace long before Neighbourhood Watch, famous for holding footballs hostage in her back garden. All the local children avoided her, as did many of the parents.
I remember her wrinkly face, the grey curls escaping the confines of her hairnet. For some reason she always wore a red polka-dotted apron. It strained against her rolls of fat when she moved. The image is still ingrained on my memory even after all these years. Guilt won’t let me forget.
It was a school day. I was late. My parents were already on their way to work. As I left the house Mrs Milford called across to me asking if I could climb through her window and let her in — the front door had slammed shut while she cleaned her windows, locking her out.
Mumbling excuses through a mouthful of toast I edged away from her before legging it towards the approaching bus. I couldn’t be late again!
Once seated I looked back to see her scowling after me, knowing full well I would be in trouble when I returned home.
* * *
After school police cars blocked our road, plastic tape corralling the curious.
The corner shop was full to bursting. Squeezing inside to flick through the latest comics I realised something was seriously wrong when the owner didn’t issue his usual threat to charge me for reading them.
Customers gossiped in hushed tones about the day’s events. I listened intently trying to piece together what had happened, my blood running cold as it slowly dawned on me I might be to blame.
How was I to know Mrs Milford would try to climb through the window herself?
Those fur trimmed slippers of hers were no match for the freshly polished cills. One slip pitched her forwards shattering the pane, the jagged glass slicing straight through her neck.
Her head must have bounced.
They found it in the garden nestled amongst the footballs. Her back door had been open all the time but being a terrace she would have had to clamber over every garden fence to reach it.
The police were in and out of her house for the rest of the week. After a good hose down our footballs were returned to us. I never had the heart to play again. All I could see were bloody dots everywhere. I can still see them now.
C.R. SMITH is a Fine Art Student whose work has been published in such places as 101 Words, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Train Flash Fiction, Ellipsis Zine, Spelk Fiction, The Horror Tree, Glove Lit Zine and Ad Hoc Fiction.
https://crsmith2016.wordpress.com Twitter @carolrosalind