It happened on a cool, Spring morning. The sun was barely rising. No clouds were overhead. The dusty blue of the morning sky covered the sleeping land with a blanket of chill and crispness. It was time to get up but the land laid still and sleeping as I wished I could.
But the duties of a mother called and I lifted my head from my warm pillow and trudged to the depths of my cool, dank garage where the laundry of yesterday waited. My barely opened eyes struggled to focus on the brown carpet beneath my heavy feet. The stairs dropped before me and I slowly slinked my way down, down, down into the belly of our home.
Upstairs, in his small bed, my son slept on. His parted lips snored gently as his matted head of hair hung slightly off the edge of his train and truck blankets. In his quiet slumber he looked so innocent. So serene.
I should have known better.
Rubbing my weary eyes, I stopped before the door to the garage and reached out to grab the knob when my hand touched the cold metal of the door. I reached back, stunned by the heartless sting of the cold metal against my warm skin. It sent a chill up my spine as I reached again and turned the knob every so gently to open the heavy old door. I was awake now, my senses all on fire and alert to the iciness around me as I entered the bottom level with its unforgiving cement floor and the bare walls.
There was no life here. Just cold, hard forms lying motionless in the bleak air below. As my warm body broke the stillness, I knew I had to get out. Quickly.
Stepping lightly, I padded my way across the stone-cold floor to the dryer. My bare feet ached against the cement slab beneath me and my breath caught in my throat. I had to get what I came for and get out, before I was lost to the biting air.
That when I noticed something was…wrong. I slowly opened the door to my dryer and reached in, expecting warmth and comfort.
Suddenly I drew my hand back! The sickly sight within caught my breath and held it captive. A scream bubbled up but never broke free. The sight before me was too horrid to imagine. Too awful to believe.
Streaks painted the pristine insides of the dryer leaving stains of blood red running down. I stifled another cry of horror as I threw my hand against my mouth hanging agape. I tried to look away but my eyes were drawn to the lives lost in the bloody mess.
They never had a chance. The poor innocent victims of this deadly massacre laid beneath my outstretched hand. I looked beyond my fear and tried to spot any signs of life.
Everything was ruined. Stained and streaked beyond belief. Lives shattered and tone asunder by this wicked and heinous crime! I reached again, turning over the countless victims, trying to salvage something…someone.
Then I knew…it was over. There was nothing I could do. I raised my stained hands to my face and wept. Gone…lost…forever.
As I reached down to lift our loved ones in a last embrace, I heard a tinkering. Something had fallen and hit the ground. Fear raced through my veins. I was almost too afraid to look.
Was it a dismembered piece so violently shaken from its owner? Was it a hideous clue to the crime committed? What was it?
I took a deep, shaking breath and looked down to find…
The weapon of choice laid before me, motionless. Heartless. Taunting me with its innocent look. Fear…rage…sadness…grief…It all bubbled up and I choked them back. This clue, this piece left behind could mean only one thing…
Then, in the din of my grief I heard the small thud of feet touching the ground and the rustling of movement upstairs. A small voice called out for me.
The voice of the accused.