Lynette walked down the school hall, aware of a dozen pairs on eyes on her as she moved. There were hushed whispers as she drew closer, and some conversations that were suddenly stopped.
This was a scenario she was used to and she ignored it, sauntering slowly along. There was a problem here, but she knew it wasn’t from her. These people were all weird, they just didn’t know it yet.
She was aware of the names they called her; weirdo, loony, but she felt there was an error somewhere. Those names didn’t fit her; at least she didn’t think they did. She felt perfectly at ease, very in tune with her emotions and inner self. She didn’t give a hoot what they thought of her.
She got to the end of the hall and pushed the doors outwards. The sun was suddenly on her face and she cupped her palm to her forehead, shielding her eyes from its glare.
The school bus was parked by the side of the school fence. This was the second bus and the smaller one. The main one left over 45 minutes ago. This one was fast filling up but she ignored it choosing to walk instead like she always did. It was more comforting to her when she walked instead as she had her thoughts to herself and didn’t have to contend with the strange, sometimes hostile glances that were cast her way.
She chose a walkpath that was fairly deserted this time of day and set on her journey. It was perfect. Now she was in her comfort zone. She didn’t have to make polite conversations or call out a greeting to a familiar face.
Her home was a thirty minutes walk away and she knew she would be home in no time. She would soon be in the company of her mother and sister who were also weird. She felt out of place in their company, just like she did everyone else.
Mrs Thomas, her mother, was forever yapping about her life and how her being a recluse would get her no where. She needed to mingle more.
Lynette hated her; hated them all. She dreaded going home, dreaded the constant nagging, recriminations and criticisms. She wished there was someplace she could go; an island where she didn’t need to and wouldn’t see anymore.
“Good afternoon, mom”, Lynette muttered under her breath, scowling as she passed her mother in the living room heading for her room.
“You are late”, Mrs Thomas called out. “School closed about two hours ago. What kept you?”
Lynette fumed, but showed a serene outward appearance. “I stayed back for detention and walked back home.”
“Detention? Again?” Mrs Thomas echoed. “What did you do this time?”
““Nothing” earned you a detention?” Mrs Thomas asked in disbelief. “You really should be more careful, Lyn. This is your third detention this week and you also had one last week. Why cant you just get along with your teachers and fellow students?”
“I’m trying, mom” Lynette muttered, itching to leave. She wished the lecture would be over already. It was constant, almost like a daily anthem now and she was sick of it. She wished her mother would just disappear at that point so she wouldn’t have to see her again or hear one more lecture.
“Well….you need to try harder”, Mrs Thomas replied, not letting up and slightly upset. “I really don’t understand why you are so different from your sister. Why are you so antagonistic and problem-prone? You stand out like a sore thumb everywhere you go. Why can’t you be friendlier?”
“I’m trying to, mom”, Lynette replied calmly, but within she was smoldering at the comparison with her sister. She didn’t want to and would never be like her. She didn’t see the sense in being a weak version of a thing when she could be a strong, vibrant copy; herself. “Can I be excused?”
Mrs Thomas sighed as she watched her sixteen-year-old daughter leave before she gave her the go-ahead to do so. She worried daily about her younger daughter. Lynette had always been a difficult child; withdrawn, moody and problematic from infancy. She had become callous and unemotional as she grew and they couldn’t attribute her strange behaviour to any reason.
The few counselors they’d been to advised being warm and very involved with her to draw her out of her shell and make her drop the negative traits, but nothing seemed to work. She only became tricky and developed a trait where she could mask her insensitivity when she wanted to and put on a false charm. She lacked compassion and empathy, and Mrs Thomas was secretly scared of her own child.
The children’s father passed on five years after Lynette was born, with Samantha her older child being just seven. She knew comparing kids was wrong, but she was frustrated. How could two siblings from the same womb be as different as night and day? Samantha was caring and bubbling, putting people’s needs and feelings ahead of hers. If only Lyn was half like that.
In her room, Lynette dumped [email protected] bag on the armchair and collapsed on the bed. She was tired and needed to sleep, but before that she needed to fill her stomach as she was famished. She would make a quick sandwich; that would do for now. She needed to go down to the kitchen which was downstairs.
The kitchen was beside the living room and she wondered how she would pass through without catching her mother’s attention and bringing on another bout of lecture. She heard voices and paused to listen. Samantha must be back. She continued on towards the kitchen, but stopped suddenly at the words that flowed to her.
“…..I’m getting quite tired”, Mrs Thomas was saying. “I’m beginning to wish I stopped birthing with you. That way I wouldn’t be going through this. Your kid sister has been nothing but heartache from the time she was born.”
Lynette felt her heart harden at those words. It wasn’t everyday one stumbled on such a confession of hatred and regret from your own parents.
“We have to be patient”, Samantha was saying. “Hopefully, this insensitivity of hers passes as she ages. But I do get what you mean. It’s really exhausting having to deal with such psychopathic tendencies every day.”
Psychopathic. That was the diagnoses of the hospitals they’d been to. They’d also recommended a series of treatments, all of which had failed because there was nothing wrong with her. Why couldn’t they see that? She was just different; but not more so than the rest of them. She was her own person, one who didn’t need to submit to the dictates of society to be considered normal.
She wished they would just let her be. Why couldn’t they? Why couldn’t they accept who she was and stop pushing for a change that was never going to come. She wished they’d just disappear forever and let her be.
She walked past and entered the kitchen. There was a big loaf of bread in the fridge and she soon went to work making her sandwiches. She spread mustard as a condiment over a slice and topped this with cheese and sausage. She made several and spread them out neatly on a serving plate, which she laid on a tray.
Mrs Thomas looked up from her knitting to see Lynette approaching with the tray of sandwich. This wasn’t an isolated act; Lynette was known for such acts of kindness if she felt she’d been out of line, which just made her later coldness all the more difficult to bear.
Lynette smiled. “Hey Sam, I made lunch.”
Samantha returned the smile faintly, getting up to assist her. She drew the center table forward so Lyn could place the tray on it.
Mrs Thomas knew this for the white flag it was, one they might not see for a very long time to come and reached for one of the sandwiches.
“I made several”, Lynette announced, picking one with mayo. “I know mom cant stand mayo so I made hers with mustard. Sam I made yours with egg and cheese.”
Sam’s brows went up in surprise; such thoughtfulness was rare in Lynette, but on the few occasions they came, they were all grateful. “Thanks, kiddo.” She said and Lyn nodded.
“This Lynette is quite charming”, Mrs Thomas said between bites. She was on her second sandwich. “You should bring her out more…….”
Lynette turned as her mother stopped talking, her eyes meeting and holding the older woman’s. Mrs Thomas gasped slightly, the half-eaten sandwich falling from her mouth. The eyes that stared at her had a cold chill that sent shivers through her, a chill unlike one she had ever seen.
What was it she saw in those eyes? Hatred? She didn’t have the time to ponder as a sharp pain ran through her and her hand instinctively clutched her stomach. “What……”
“Poison”, Lynette replied calmly, holding her mother’s eyes still. “I laced your sandwiches with some quick-action poison. Yours too, Samantha.”
“Poison?” Samantha echoed, incredulously. She had dropped the half-eaten sandwich and it now lay discarded on the floor. “You poisoned us?”
“Sniper”, Lynette said in reply to the shocked look on their faces. Mrs. Thomas was now doubled over, holding her stomach as the pain was starting to kick in. Samantha reached out to her, a little pleadingly, but only made it so far before succumbing to the pain and collapsing on the floor.
“You poisoned your own family?” Mrs. Thomas asked through pain, choking as blood spluttered from her mouth. “Why?”
Lynette shrugged. “I needed to be free- rid of you two.”
“I gave birth to you!” Mrs. Thomas choked in anguish, her pain more of an emotional one than physical. “How could you do this to me? To us?”
“No hard feelings, mom”, Lynette replied, her voice void of emotions. “I just needed to be left alone and I was getting sick of the comparison. You and Sam here have been nothing but a pain to me. ” Her eyes fell on her sister and she saw her crawl slowly towards an object; a black handbag a few feet away.
Lynette guessed her intentions and walked over to kick the bag out of Sam’s reach. “You really think I’d let you make a phone call?”
“Please,” Samantha moaned, her arms reaching out as she tried futilely to pull a bag that was far out of her reach.
“Give it a rest and just left the stuff go to work.” Mrs. Thomas had gone still, but gave an involuntary twitch when Lynette looked over. “See, mom knows the end is here for her and isn’t trying to fight it. You shouldn’t too. ”
“Please…..Lyn,” Sam clung to her legs weakly as she pleaded. “Don’t do this to us. We have done nothing to you.”
“Yes, you have,” Lynette countered. “You came into my life and tormented me with your very presence. Im sick of being compared to you—the perfect child.”
Samantha’s hold slackened and she grew still, her breath slowing. Lynette stared at both bodies for a while, feeling the calm spread through her. She felt…..free, like a shackle just fell off her legs. She stepped quietly out of Sam’s loose hold, drawing back to observe them both.
Now her life could really begin, the way she wanted it. She no longer had such dead weights pulling her back and clouding her days with such darkness. She picked up her phone where she’d dropped it on the chair and without a backward glance, left that house and life forever.
The police would later be alerted to the decomposing smells in House 206. But they never found a clue to the puzzle. Neither did they ever find the third member of that household, who had apparently vanished into thin air.