My eyes drifted open, and slowly by vision cleared as my eyes adjusted. A bright light was shining through my window, lighting up my room as though it were the middle of the day. I could distantly hear birds singing outside the house, and as I sat up I noticed the sky was cloudless. It was a beautiful spring morning. I reached to my left and checked my phone for the time, it was 8:45 am, I had slept in. I swung my legs over the edge of the bed and plodded slowly to the bathroom, splashing my face with cold shots of water and vigorously scrubbing my teeth clean to remove any hints of morning breath. Then, I heard crying, no, wailing, that of a baby. My brow creased in confusion as I tried to figure out why I could hear a baby.
Then I remembered.
The hospital, the confrontation, the un-returning mother, the police.
I wondered if that would be wrote they would later write as her cause of death 'Alice'. After all, conceiving a child with the window cleaner was the only motive for anyone to lay a hand on my mother. I felt my cheeks dampen as I, once again, began to cry. I stumbled back to my room, and threw on yesterdays clothes. I cast a quick glance at the window, a small, grey, and immaculate cloud had appeared. I shut my blinds in a flash, turned sharply, and jogged down the stairs.
Flo was in the kitchen, reheating yesterday's leftovers and pouring apple juice into 5 cups. 5. Not 6. Now there were only 5 people who drank juice in the morning.
"Morning Michael" she smiled slightly when she saw me, "do me a favour and mash up some of that baby food for Alice". I nodded, noticing my baby sister was in an old pre-used table booster. I handed it to Flo after I was done, and she handed me some of the remaining scrambled eggs. I ate in silence, listening to Flo make airplane noises towards Alice with shut eyes. I later heard George enter the kitchen, and soon after came Dianne. Dad didn't come down. Once well fed, we all went our separate ways. George left for a morning jog, Dianne went back up to her room, Flo went to tidy up the living room, and I was left with the responsibility of looking after Alice. I wiped away the orange/brown mush that she had left on the table, a tad disgusted that once I had eating this filth. When I tried to wipe Alice's mouth she giggled, and kept moving out of the way, my hands had to be lightning quick to be able to scrape even the tiniest amount of food from her cheeks. Once one task was over, there came another. Alice opened her mouth, and began to wail. It wasn't a quite wail either, oh no, it was a wail that a howler monkey would've been proud of. Though she was tiny, she was mighty, and wouldn't stop crying. I fumbled around, picking her up. With the wailing now directly in my ears, I debated what to do. She had just been fed, didn't smell like she had a dirty nappy, and definitely wasn't tired. I took a random guess, and tried to burp her. After about 10 pathetic tries, I managed to get her to let out a small croak. I let out a sigh, and after a minute or so, Alice fell limp, asleep in my arms. I slowly went up the stairs, and rested her in her crib.
"Well done" Flo complimented me, I spun around, I hadn't realized she was behind me.
"Thanks" I grinned, probably for the first time in 24 hours.
"George is back" she informed me.
"Cool" I shrugged, not knowing what to say. Then, there was a knock at the door. It was too early for the mail. Flo descended the stairs, as soon as the door was open an inch wide, 2 police officers entered the house. I recognised one of them as the female from last nights interrogation.
"Um, Hello" Flo greeted them.
"Good morning" the lady shook Flo's hand, "I didn't get to introduce myself last night, I'm detective inspector Harrison, and this is inspector Paul." She introduced them.
"Is your father awake?" Inspector Paul asked.
"Probably" George guessed, coming up behind Flo.
"Could you fetch him please, we have some developments to report." Inspector Paul requested. Flo signalled for me to collect him. I turned and knocked on his door. The man who answered looked like a ghost, pale complexion, dead eyes and dreary expression.
"Um, dad, the police are here" I told him, the stranger grunted a reply, then shut the door. I did the same with Dianne, who followed me downstairs into the living room. I was thankful the living room was clean now, shattered glass and broken furniture weren't the best of impressions. A few minutes later, my dad (who I now recognized) entered, well groomed and slightly more alive.
"Sorry to disturb you at this hour" DI Harrison began, "but we need to get this out the way. After gathering witness statements and evidence last night, we can confirm a few things. Firstly, Tiffany Kroft died of a slit throat, but had other injuries too, such as a fractured spine and a broken leg, as well as cuts all over her body. We can also determine that her body was dragged to the entrance of the bar, and was actually murdered a few blocks down. We also have a prime suspect." She explained.
"Who?" Our dad asked, as keen for information as we all were.
"You" DI Harrison announced. I froze, we all did. We weren't expecting that accusation to come out.
"What? That's crazy" George cut in, defending him.
"Your father has a history of domestic abuse, anger issues, drinking problems... Plus he has a strong motive and a weak alibi. I'm sorry, but we have to consider him as a suspect." Inspector Paul defended DI Harrison.
"I didn't kill her" my dad spoke up, "I didn't."
"Aren't there any other suspects?" Flo inquired.
"As of yet, no" Inspector Paul told her.
"Then you need to get better at your job" Dianne spoke up, angered.
"Look, we don't have enough evidence at the moment, but we do need your dads passport." DI Harrison grimaced.
"I'll go get it" George offered, obviously wanting a chance to leave the room. Once they had his passport, they left quickly. Dad went out, probably to drown his sorrows, leaving just us 4, and Alice.
"Why didn't you say anything?" George asked me. I looked up at him, feeling uncomfortable with his bitter tone.
"I didn't have anything to say" I replied honestly.
"You could have at least defended him, a little 'he wouldn't do something like that', wouldn't of required much brain power" George scolded me.
"Leave him alone George" Flo stepped in.
"Come on, he deserves to be spoken to like this, the little wimp." George spat out the words like poison.
"To be honest, he was a little quiet Flo" Dianne had paused her music to turn against me.
"I was in shock" I tried to find a good excuse.
"Maybe you agree with them" George suddenly exclaimed. This was like a bullet to my heart, the fact that he would even think that...
"Don't be ridiculous" Flo raised her eyebrows at him.
"I bet he thinks Dad did do it, he was always more of a mummys boy" I waited for George to stop, but he didn't, "maybe he killed her, then framed dad. Maybe Michael Kroft isn't so perfect after all!"
"George!" Flo raised her voice.
"Your right, he didn't kill her. But I still think he agrees with the cops." George stepped away from me.
"I agree" Dianne backed him up. I turned to Flo, desperate, but even her eyes seemed doubtful. They all turned and went down to the basement, leaving me in the living room alone. Instead of feeling sad, or tortured, or angry, I felt an urge.
An urge to prove them wrong, an urge to show my siblings I was on their side, an urge to defend my father's innocence.
An urge to find out who killed my mother.