It took five years, four countries, three dark naked nights alone in the jungle, two illegal border crossings, and one short life of savings squandered. It was a crossing through hell to get to this point. Through that passage she never abandoned her dream for a better life, never dropped the hope for her child.
Her salvation and ultimate damnation lay in the care of a different family though. She cleaned their home and helped raise their children. From sunrise to sundown, she mothered children not of her own loin and cleaned the clothes of a husband she did not lay beside. It was a separate life lived in the service of others and, yet, never a part of them. However, at night in her servants’ quarter, while writing letters home she never complained. In a safe house making good money she was able to send all her earnings home, and she prayed it actually went to her daughter’s education and not her drug-addicted brother. She was not what you would call happy, but she was content, knowing she was doing the right thing for her family. This is how she lived her life for several years, until the car accident.
The carnage occurred on the last day of a weeklong Christmas vacation to Goa, India. It was the exotic pilgrimage the wife had dreamed of since her college days, and they were finally hitting the beaches in style, rather than as penniless, backpacking ravers. From the few calls home to check on the kids, she gathered they were having a great time, a “second honeymoon” the wife said.
Then they did not come home on their scheduled flight. Two days went by, then two weeks and finally she received word the wife was in a country hospital and they were doing everything they could. “Please tell the kids we will be home soon” were the only instructions she was given over the phone. It turned out, on the way to the airport the wife decided she wanted one last adventure on the back of a motorcycle taxi. The husband rode with the luggage. The shrieks of joy and excitement on the back of the bike pushed the driver to further and further levels of danger and excitement, until he finally made a wrong cut behind a bus into a head on collision with a semi-truck. The wife never made a return flight.
It was possible the natural transition as caregiver and homemaker brought about the change, or maybe it was the crushing loneliness when the house was quiet, but whatever the impetus, after a year the husband asked for her hand in marriage. To her it seemed more of a service than a commitment, something included with the job description and so she acquiesced. Initially the changes were subtle, even quiet after living together for so many years. Her long solitude made intimacy to some degree welcome, if not altogether awkward, but it was the access to wealth and a new tier of society, for which she was unprepared.
During her first few years of marriage she was like a little girl who dressed in her mother’s shoes and finest jewelry, living out the fantasy of adulthood. She slowly moved her meager personal items into the master bedroom and for a while even spent money lavishly, as an experiment rather than a form of self-indulgence. Then while standing, ironing the shirt of the man she was now married to, she realized the only thing that changed in her life was the access to the 30 year-old scotch.
For years she raised the heirs and cleaned the modern-day castle. Ultimately through tragedy, she had even usurped the throne, but to what benefit and to what end? She was the matriarch of a kingdom, but one where she had forsaken her past, leaving her standing alone and different. It was at this point, when a sudden sense of entitlement and the inspiration for something darker crept into her heart.