Chapter 4 of U Murder U (Suicide)


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The next instalment of U Murder U (Suicide) below – Chapter 4


They worked together side by side. Flour scattered on top of the kitchen counter, chocolate chips, chocolate chunks and sugar scattered alongside the flour. Elle mixed the muffin batter and hummed a song her mother had written a few years ago and Clarissa sung the words. Elle tossed a couple of chocolate pieces into her mouth and fed her mother a piece. Clarissa smiled as the chocolate melted in her mouth.

“The cookies smell really good; I love the smell of baking cookies.”

“You love the smell of baking full-stop Elle.”

Elle smiled, “That is so true. How many muffins are we making?”

“Twelve, which should give us four each, unless someone I know decides to sneak more than her fair share.”

“Who would do that?”

“Oh, I don’t know, who do you think would do that Elle May? Who has a tendency of doing that Elle May?”

Elle smiled sheepishly at her mother. She loved making muffins and cakes and bread and savoury dishes (containing secret ingredients) with her mother, it was one of her favourite things to do. It filled her with anticipation of something exciting. Her mother would tell her to close her eyes when she made a pie or casserole and while Elle’s eyes were closed she would add some secret herb or spice. Elle never knew what she added only that afterwards the dish would smell and taste like something out of this world. Elle carefully spooned the muffin batter into the twelve muffin cases then licked the wooden spoon.

Madeline Stapleton paid the taxi driver and thanked him as he helped her wheel her suitcase to the front door of her daughter’s house. Madeline, a former famous model in the days before the supermodels were called supermodels was a classical beauty. She was highly sought after for guest appearances on fashion segments for several day time TV shows and she was also a popular judge on an American nationally syndicated TV fashion show. With all this she still ran her own modelling agency and enjoyed her life to the fullest. She sighed contently as she fished her key out of her handbag and opened the front door quietly. Intent on surprising her family she wheeled her suitcase through the front door then quietly closed the door and tiptoed towards the front room. She looked inside and saw Maddy doing homework; she tiptoed towards the kitchen and looked inside. The sight of mother and daughter standing by the stove cooking brought a surge of warmth to her heart, it brought back memories of when Clarissa was young and she used to have cooking / bonding sessions with her.

“I smell something good in here!” Madeline exclaimed as she walked into the kitchen and dropped her handbag onto a chair.

“Grandma!” Elle exclaimed and rushed over and threw herself into her grandmother’s outstretched arms. “When did you get back from New York?”

“Hello sweetheart, I just got back. I was on my way home when I remembered that I don’t have anything delicious in my fridge for dinner, so here I am. How’s my little angel doing?”

“I’m fine Grandma, how are you? You look really nice, did you get your hair dyed?”

“I’m fine thank you darling and in America it’s called colouring your hair not dying it. This colour is called Cool Gorgeous Grandma Auburn,” she swept her head from side to side then puffed her hair up.

Elle giggled.

Clarissa rushed over and hugged her mother tightly, “Mum, I missed you! You look great as usual.”

“Thank you dear, I missed you too. How are you?” She hugged her daughter tightly then released her and studied her.

Clarissa smiled warmly at her mother. They could pass for sisters, a thing her mother was very proud of. She knew her mother was checking to see if she was okay. “I’m really good Mum, really good. I like the highlights they really suit you.”

Madeline ran a hand through her hair, “Thank you, I think so too, I’m actually quite pleased with the new cut as well, it knocks off a few years don’t you think?”

They both giggled.

“Grandma, guess what, Mum said she’ll teach me how to make her special cottage pie next week. We’re going to go out and get the ingredients from the farmers’ market and then she’s going to show me how to make it step by step!”

“That’s great darling but if my memory serves me well, she stole that recipe from me.”

“Mum I didn’t steal it-”

“Did I give it to you Clarissa?”

“No, but I found out where you hide your recipes and copied it and added a few of my own secret herbs and spices and-”

“There you go, it was stolen.”

They all laughed. Three generations laughed warmly together.

“Grandma!” Maddy squealed, rushed over to the three of them and hugged her grandmother tightly.

“Hello Mademoiselle Maddy, how are you sweetheart?”

Maddy stood back and bowed as accustomed, “I’m fine thank you Grandmother, and may I enquire, how are you Madam?”

“I’m very well thank you Mademoiselle Maddy,” Madeline playfully curtsied and Maddy bowed again. They asked a few more questions of each other and performed a few more dramatic curtsies and bows.

Clarissa and Elle looked on, both amused at the Downton Abbey like display of etiquette playing out before them. After a few moments Clarissa edged Elle back towards the stove where the vegetables were nearly boiling over.

“Look Grandma look, another tooth came out yesterday!” Maddy opened her mouth wide and showed her grandmother the gap where the tooth had once resided.

“Oh look, that is so cute.”

“Grandma, may I speak to you in private please?” Maddy asked as a serious expression etched itself onto her face.

Clarissa and Elle looked at each other and frowned as Maddy pulled her grandmother over to a corner of the kitchen and spoke to her in a low voice, her hands moved in the air as she seemed to be describing something or some things. When she finished she looked at her mother with a knowing smile then sauntered out of the kitchen.

“What did she say?” Clarissa asked her mother slightly puzzled.

“That is one of the wisest little negotiators I know. She asked me to have a quiet word with the tooth-fairy and ask if she can have £2 instead of £1 this time as the tooth that has recently fallen out is a big tooth and must weigh far more than the others which she previously got £1 for. She said that if I do this ‘one thing’ and she gets her asking price of £2, she will split the profit with me. She will give me 50p for my effort and she will take £1.50. Did you notice all her little hand gestures?”

“Yes,” Clarissa nodded.

“That was so cute. It was her emphasizing how heavy the tooth is and how much she wants me to understand why she felt the need to ask this ‘one thing’ of me. Oh and she asked if I felt that the negotiation was fair as she wants to make sure that I’m happy with my cut because she feels that it is very very very fair.”

Again three generations laughed warmly together.


Mother and daughter sat facing each other at the kitchen table. The girls were in bed and the house was warm and peaceful. Donny Hathaway’s version of Song for You, played on the kitchen radio. A wine bottle sat in-between two wine glasses, the bottle was three quarters full – neither of the women were particularly heavy drinkers.

“I love this song, the piano riffs are amazing,” Clarissa said as her fingers danced elegantly in time with the riffs.

Madeline smiled as she relaxed and listened to the song and her daughter sing along with Donny. The song ended and she clapped – her daughter had a beautiful voice and each time she sang Madeline was reminded of her husband and his soft baritone voice.

“I missed you Mum, I’m glad you’re back.”

“I’m glad I’m back too. Everyone asked about you and the girls, they all send their love. I had an amazing time, I took a carriage ride in Central Park, I saw a play on Broadway with your Aunt Maxine and I went on a day trip to Niagara Falls with your cousin Priscilla and her new husband.”

“Sounds like you had a great time.”

“I did and you would have loved it, you know what, let’s organise a trip over there when the girls are on a school break.”

“I’d like that, the girls would too. I’ll start arranging things then we can surprise them. The girls and I could catch up with all our family over there and maybe go and see Niagara Falls too, I’ve always wanted to see that, Elle and Maddy would love to see it too. You know every time we went to America I only did what Neil wanted, which was always something that would make him visible to directors and producers and casting agents, anything that would enhance his career. I never did what I wanted to do . . . well that era is over now and it’s not just time for change, it’s time to live the change, time for change manifestation.”

Madeline clapped her hands again, this time more loudly and tears shone in her eyes.

“What?” Clarissa asked.

“In the words of the various diverse women in my prayer group at church, ‘You’re there’, ‘You’ve arrived’, ‘You’ve landed’, you’re stronger sweetheart and I’m glad. You’ve crossed that invisible line that so many women get stuck on. The ‘I’m so lonely, I’ll put up with anything just to have my unfaithful unrepentant husband in my bed’. The, ‘It gets so cold at night, I need someone, anyone will do’. I say to those women – Pray to God for His Will to be done in your life then go get yourself a hot water bottle for the cold and a couple of good, intellectually stimulating books to read.”

Clarissa laughed.

“Look at you – you look great and you sound confident and happy. Remember when you said to me that you were all alone and you had to take care of the girls by yourself and take care of the house by yourself and manage the finances by yourself and make sure the girls got to the dentist for regular check-ups and all the other one-hundred-and-one things that you had to do when Neil first left?”

Clarissa nodded then frowned, “Why?”

“Remember what I said to you?”

She nodded again, “You said, ‘So what’s changed?’. I remember we were in the front room and I had all these bills in my hand and I was crying.”

“You didn’t understand what I meant at first and I could see in your eyes that you thought I was being cruel. What I meant at the time was that you already did all those things without Neil. He never helped you. You did everything, even though you made him believe that he did everything. You’re a strong, beautiful woman, Clarissa and I’m so proud of you. The way you’ve come out on top, gotten over your heart-break and depression and the way you’re bringing up Elle and Maddy to be confident young women. It makes me so proud!” Her voice broke, she sniffed and wiped away a tear that had started to roll down her cheek.

“Mum, I learned from the best, I learned from you. I know your prayers have kept me and the girls safe and strong. Thank you for being there for me when I lost myself, when I . . .” her tears fell freely, she didn’t wipe them away. “When I thought that I couldn’t go on, you pushed me forward, supporting me along the way . . . Is this the wine talking or me?” She sniffed and wiped her tears with the back of her hand.

“It’s the wine, you never could hold your alcohol.”

They both smiled.

“I never really liked Neil. And, I hated the way he strung you along for months telling you that he was going to get a marriage counsellor to help iron out the problems in your marriage but only when he was ready to find one. Then he said it couldn’t be a Christian counsellor but only one that he was comfortable with. For months he made false promises knowing full well that he had no plans of even looking for a marriage counsellor let alone making any appointments. He told you he didn’t believe in divorce but refused to do anything to work things out because he was shacked up with one girlfriend and having it off with several others. He was committing adultery but had ‘divorce’ issues? Then in the midst of his coming and going he signs divorce papers without telling you so he could get engaged to that actress whose father produced his last movie. The cheek of that man! I read in a magazine in New York last week that she’s dumped him because he was cheating on her.” She sighed, “You know I always thought you should have married that medical student you dated when you started university. Tall, dark brown hair, gorgeous piercing greyish eyes, cute smile and dimples, great personality, I really liked him.”

“Steve Truman!” She exclaimed, slightly shocked that her mother remembered exactly what he looked like.

“Yes! He’s probably Dr Steve Truman now. I remember when you first brought him round to meet us, I could see that he was so into you. He worshipped the ground you walked on. The way he would lovingly call you ‘Rissa’ and you would smile and light up like a Christmas tree. Only he could shorten your name and get away with it. Each time he came round, I would think to myself, ‘Clarissa Truman, the doctor’s wife’. You were so cute together, the way you would finish each other’s sentences. You would say something cheeky and he would reply or vice versa. Or you would say something and he would repeat it word for word but make it sound different, sort of complementary to your words. What was it your dad used to call that?”

“Counter-saying,” Clarissa said softly.

“That’s right, counter-saying! You know I always thought he was the one for you and he could take care of you and put up with your musical mentality-”


“Then one day Neil R.T. Williams showed up like a bad penny with his bleached blond hair and sinisterly handsome face that couldn’t hold a sincere emotion . . . but you know what?” She waved her hand dramatically, “All is not lost, you have two beautiful well-grounded girls and for that I can tolerate Neil, although I have to state the obvious, Elle and Maddy both clearly take after our side of the family.”

Clarissa giggled. She sat back and listened to her mother reminisce some more. She was glad her mother was here. She knew that she would only spend a couple of nights with them then she would return to her own home where memories of Clarissa’s late father would be waiting.

Forty minutes later Clarissa bid her mother goodnight and watched as she walked towards the guest bedroom on the ground floor. She washed the wine glasses and put the unfinished bottle of wine away. She turned as something on the table caught her eye. She smiled, picked up the £1 and two 50p pieces her mother had left on the kitchen table, turned off the light and headed upstairs towards Maddy’s room.

As Clarissa got ready for bed believing both her daughters to be sound asleep, Jessica was bombarding Elle with text messages.

Jessica                              00:10

√ Why can’t you come to my house tomorrow? Want to give you a necklace.

Elle                                   00:12

√ B’cos I want to spend time with my family. I told you my Gran is back from her hols. Plus don’t want your necklace, got my own necklaces.

Jessica                              00:12

√ Okay forget necklace!!! I need to talk to you. What about me?


Elle                                    00:14

√ What about you? Why don’t you stop drinking and talk to your mum?


Jessica                              00:14

√ Y’know I can’t talk to her, plus she’s drunk again


Elle                                    00:16

√ I’m not coming round tomorrow


Jessica                                00:17

√ Please and pretty please, I need you to come here – girl power


Elle                                      00:19

√ Nope


Jessica                                00:20

√ Why do you have to be such a cow??


Elle                                      00:21

√ Still not coming over – Mooo. You can come over here if you want to.


Jessica                                00:22

√ I can’t your mum hates me, she wants to keep us apart.


Elle                                       00:23

√ My mum doesn’t hate you. She doesn’t like you calling her by her name, so stop it cos it’s rude.


Jessica                                00:23

√ Yes she does hate me, my mum said that you and I need to spend some time apart. Where did that come from if not your mum!


Elle                                       00:24

√ My mum just wants me to get serious with my piano lessons, she thinks I’m good


Jessica                                00:25

√ LOL, you are so rubbish at playing the piano Elle, she just wants to control u, come over to my house instead!


Elle                                      00:27

√ No


Jessica                                00:28

√ Aww, r u upset cos I said u r rubbish J


Elle                                      00:30

√ Since when did what you say matter


Jessica                                00:30

√ Be like that then


Elle                                      00:31

√ Okay I will


Jessica                                00:32

√ Oh get lost


Elle                                      00:34

√ Stop texting, u r getting on my nerves now


Jessica                                00:34

√ Why can’t you come over???


Elle                                      00:36

√ Read text I sent mins ago dummy. G’night, turning phone off now zzzzZZZZ

Elle switched off her phone.

‘Bitch’ Jessica thought but didn’t dare text her thought to Elle. At fourteen, Jessica was smart enough to know that Elle was not only her best friend; she was one of her only few non-virtual friends.



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