Chapter no 68

The Teacher


AFTER DETECTIVE SPRAGUE leaves our house, my mother looks like she’s going to have a stroke. Her face drains of all color, and I’m pretty sure her last remaining brown hairs switch over to being white.

“Addie,” Mom gasps. “What was that? What did you do?” Deny everything.

I drop my eyes, playing with a lock of my messy hair. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if my own hair turned white before the end of this. “I didn’t do anything. I was here all night.”

“Tell me the truth, Adeline.”

My mother can see right through me when I’m lying, so I try a different strategy. “Look, she thinks I took the car somewhere, but I bet that car in the garage won’t even start. We haven’t used it in so long, I bet the battery is dead.”

The last time my mother drove the car was at least two months ago, when she was considering selling it. Ultimately, she decided to keep it for me, even though the thought of driving that man’s car makes me sick.

“Maybe,” she says slowly. She swivels her head to look at the garage door again. “Fine. Let me check.”

My heart leaps as she grabs the car keys from where she keeps them in the bookcase. I hurry after her as she marches out to the garage. She doesn’t say a word as she unlocks the door and slides into the driver’s seat. She fumbles with the keys for a moment before fitting them into the lock.

“Mom,” I say. I realize I’m holding my breath. She hasn’t driven my father’s car in such a long time. I bet it won’t start. And then I’ll be off the hook, right? If I didn’t have a car last night, I couldn’t have done anything to Mrs. Bennett.

Slowly, she turns the key.

The engine roars to life so loudly that I have to take a step back. The garage quickly starts to fill with exhaust fumes. Really, she should turn it off now, but instead she just sits there, staring glassy eyed at the windshield while the garage fills with toxic fumes.

“I didn’t even know it would start,” I say pleadingly.

Finally, she reaches out and kills the engine. She pulls the keys out of the ignition and steps out of the car. She looks me straight in the eye.

“What happened last night, Adeline? I want the truth.” “Nothing,” I say softly. “I was home.”

“Did you do something to Mrs. Bennett?” “No, I… I would never…”

Anything I say next will be a complete lie. I have done terrible things in my sixteen years. I pushed my father down the stairs. I was stalking Art Tuttle. I slept with my teacher. I knocked out Mrs. Bennett with a frying pan.

But I’m not sure anymore if I killed her.

“Please tell me the truth, Addie.” My mother’s voice cracks. “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me the truth.”

I wonder what would happen if I told her everything. If I told her about my affair with Nathaniel. About how I went to the Bennett house last night and I smashed Eve Bennett on the head with a frying pan. What would she do if I told her everything?

The truth is, I’m not sure I want to know.

In the end, I recognize that it will be Nathaniel’s word versus mine. And he’s going to deny everything.

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