19 Catechize [19]

A middle aged woman stood by the door. She was slightly obese and something about her was strikingly resembling to her late daughter. Her grey hair were short and hung on either sides of her neck.

"Yes? . . . How may I help you?" Her voice was feeble.

"We are extremely sorry to disturb you." Cee spoke as we made our way back to the porch. "Good evening, I am Cecelia Parker and this is Katherine Grayson. We are from Portland High in Northwest Portland and we work for our school's E-zine. Would it be okay if we ask you a few questions about Daphne?" Cee spoke with utter genuineness.

The woman contemplated for a minute, probably wondering whether to turn us down or invite us in. "Come inside." She spoke as she let us in.

Inside it was warm. The walls were light blue and the floor was wooden. White laced curtains hung on the windows. Over the small fireplace in the living room was a row of pictures. The first one was a wedding picture of a couple, which I believe were Mrs. and Mr. Woods, back in the day. The next was a baby in a crib, which I suppose was Daphne followed by a number of family pictures. While looking at the pictures, I felt something against my feet. There at my feet, was a black cat, nudging its head to seek attention. I bent down to pick it up in my arms and patted its head. The cat snuggled in my embrace.

"What are you doing?" Cee whispered, "Come sit here." She tapped the space next to her on the sofa.

"There you are!" Mrs. Woods spoke, "I'm sorry, Lucy likes to be patted a lot."

"Oh its okay Mrs. Woods. Your cat is so cute." I said as I hand it over to her. The cat meowed and stared at me with her gleaming yellow eyes.

"Daphne found her one night outside our house and decided to take her in. She's been here since then. . . My Daphne was very kind."

"I'm so sorry for your loss Mrs. Woods."

Her eyes were blood-flecked, insinuating she had cried recently. She had same set of emerald blue eyes as her daughter, the reason why she resembled her so much when I first saw her.

"Would you girls like to have something?" She asked with courtesy.

"Yeah a . . ." Before Cee could continue further, I cut her off.

"No we are good." I spoke as I passed a glare towards Cee and she rolled her eyes.

"So what would you like to know about?"

"We just wanted to ask a few questions about Daphne. Was there anything bothering her? Did she said anything before this happened? Who do you think was behind this?" Cee bombarded her with a list of questions she has prepared.

I felt bad for Mrs. Woods. She has already lost her daughter and now we were here questioning her again, making her go through it all over again. I felt ashamed in that moment.

"Daphne was a very kind and lovely child. She was a true gift to people in her life."

"Did she ever had any sort of dispute with anyone?"

"No. She was too kind and everyone loved her."

"Did she said anything unusual or saw something strange?" Cee asked.

"Strange?" She was thrown off.

"She means to say whether there were any changes in her behavior." I corrected.

"A week ago she was so busy with her work. It was as if she was preparing for something. She spent hours and hours working on something. She never left her room and even skipped her meals."

"You mean to say that she totally isolated herself for days." Cee spoke.

"Yes. She tried to hide the fact that something was bothering her, but it was pretty clear on her face, that she was worried and being bothered by something. I did all my best to ask her, but she said its nothing, just work stress." Mrs. Woods stared into nothingness as she spoke.

"Did she mention anyone? Or something new? Like for an instance some new person or something unusual." Cee inquired.

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"No."

"Did she started doing something out of the blue?"

"She planted all those herbs and flowers in our lawn. . . you must have noticed them. Except for the grass, the lawn had been barren for years. I don't know if that can be counted as something unusual."

"What kind of herbs were those?" Cee cross-questioned.

"Thyme, chamomile, nettle" She paused as if to remember the names, "I only know some of them."

Cee scrawled the names on her notepad and thought for a few seconds before shooting another question.

"Where was she the day before her body was found?"

"She informed me that she was going on a road trip with some of her friends from work which was odd considering her situation."

"Her situation?" I repeated.

"Yes . . . She was so engaged in her work and then all of a sudden she plans a road trip. I didn't paid much attention to that earlier. I thought it would be good for her to take a break. Little did I knew. . ." She stopped mid-sentence.

"Do you know any of these friends?" Cee demanded.

"I've only met Stella Smith, her colleague. She used to come by sometimes. Last Saturday when Daphne stopped responding to my calls, I dialed Stella. She told me Daphne cancelled the plan and they never went on that road trip. After that i called the cops because she had been missing for days."

"So she was missing since Saturday?" Cee confirmed.

"Yes."

"What did the cops say about it?"

"They are working on it. They don't have any leads yet. But they assume that the murderer was a serial killer."

"What do you think about this Mrs. Woods?"

"I don't know." Her eyes brimmed with tears. "I cannot do this anymore. I'm sorry girls."

We took our leave after a few moments of consoling her. It would have been so hard for her to deal with everything and Cee' plan did her no good. It was shameful as well as embarrassing. At the end of the day, Cee got the information she desired.

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