That evening, against my mother’s wishes and direct orders (“Aggie, please don’t even think of getting involved in your teacher’s death”), I was knocking on the door of a small thatched cottage in the East of Oxford. It looked quite cared for, baby pink roses looked smugly settled in their neatly trimmed beds, the light stones in the rockery had their seats in a traditional pattern, and even the thick vines climbing up a couple of the walls added to the softly ancient feel of the building.
When there was no answer to my first knock, I frowned, they were expecting me after all, and knocked loudly again. The door then clicked open and swung inwards. That reminded me of me a horror movie and I took a step back, freaked out for a bit, but after nobody appeared I decided to take a risk and enter into the house. I could see, in the dim light, that the house was carefully furnished but that everything had black on it somewhere; a black ribbon tied to a bright blue and pink ornament, a black cloth tucked, even then very neatly, around the white shelf and a black frame had been placed around a photograph of Mr. Craig. He was standing against the wall of this house, grinning his gorgeous grin, and wearing the usual jacket/work clothes.
From inside a closed door nearby me, I could hear soft sobbing, and then I realised why there had no one to meet me at the door.
“Hello?” I called hesitantly, as I pushed open the door and stepped into the room.
My eyes were drawn to the centre of this small living room; the square TV was pushed to over to almost block the only round window and the cabinets had a visible layer of white dust over them. This created chill was far from the summer flowers outside. An elderly woman sat in a comfy-looking armchair, but when she saw me she sprang up, and bustled over. She was wearing a large, thick, long black dress that reminded me of something I saw once when we were doing the Victorian era in History.
“Oh, you must be the young lady who called… Oh, how terrible…”
It was nice to be called a ‘young lady’ for once, but I could tell this woman was deeply distressed as she sank into another soft chair nearby and started weeping again. I approached her timidly and touched her shoulder lightly.
“You do understand that I have come to ask some questions about your…late son?”
She nodded and her grey hair bobbed up and down, so I continued, “Do you know if your son had any old enemies?”
“No, of course he didn’t. He was loved by everyone: family, friends, teachers, students…”
“Right. Okay.” This was going harder than I had thought. “Um…Did he have any rows recently, before he…?”
“No…not that I know of. It wasn’t my business to bother in his friendships. Although-”
“He had been feeling down recently; it was the birthday of…”
“Nobody. Doesn’t matter!” Suddenly the woman’s expression chilled solid faster than ice in a freezer.
Was she telling me everything? I had a feeling not.
“It would be helpful-”I started.
“Why are you even here?” She practically screamed. Such a sudden flick in her emotions had startled me, so I humbled instantly.
“My name is Agnetha King. Mr. Craig- your son- he was one of my teachers. We were friends.” Sort of.
Mrs. Craig studied me with jade eyes. Shocking green pupils that matched those of her boy.
Then, as suddenly as before, her emotions changed and she wept into a pink pocket-handkerchief that she had produced from her marvellous dress. I gently patted her shoulder, but had no idea what to do next. I mean that certainly wasn’t a situation that I got into often. Really, it wasn’t! I may have had a knack for landing in trouble, but it stalked me.
“Miss King, you too have a right to know who took the life of my precious only son from me. By the Lord this case will be solved…in His own time. I believe He has sent you, dear girl, to assist the Law.”
Frankly, I was astonished. I came to find out answers, not to be lectured about being special by a Catholic with, currently, unsteady emotions. I had no religion, and couldn’t see what the others found so special about The World; science gave an answer to every phenomenon- except piercing love- and we didn’t need an otherworldly being to tell us how to live through that.
“But,” she continued, “I can’t tell you everything, of course- I don’t know it all. I really can’t understand any of it…why it happened…”
“Is there anything else you can think of that might help, at the moment?” I spoke, noticing my voice was now just a whisper.
Mrs. Craig shook her head despondently, overwhelmed with tears yet again, “I-I don’t know. Maybe… But, no… I’m sorry, I can’t help any-any more...” She trailed off and sobbed into the handkerchief.
“Though...I can say that-that he was s-such a good boy, o-oh Joshua…”
Seeing the woman cry again was starting to get too much for me, so I gave her a final pat on the shoulder and returned from the mass of fabric I had been ‘sitting’ on. It was more likely that the chair had eaten me, and when it felt my hormones rage, regurgitated me.
“Well…you have my number… I think. Um.... Please call if you remember, or find out, anything of interest.”
Again I tiptoed, this time disappointed, away from that depressive atmosphere; as my fingers reached for the metallic handle of the front door, a cool voice said, “Did you want to know more about the suspicious death of Josh Craig?”