About My Mother

Entry by: Mr Golightly

16th March 2015
Over the years the revelation had prompted a variety of reactions. Most people said nothing at all. They just sat there shell shocked, fiddling with their cuffs or staring into their laps. Some people attempted to play it cool, only to be betrayed by the trembling of their limbs and the perspiration on their brow. One girl vomited, quite spectacularly, over my favourite pair of brogues. A former friend punched me in the face. These were all reactions I was familiar with. The one I was faced with now was completely alien to me.

I've attempted to deal with the problem a number of ways. The first, and most understandable of these approaches was not to deal with it at all, to keep it a secret. This was not as easy as you might imagine. Although many years had passed the press still returned to the story every now and then, and my identity was far from being a secret. This wasn't helped by the fact that my mother clearly adored the media attention and would act out whenever the opportunity arose. Even when the papers had fallen silent for a few years there was always the chance that a family member or a trusted loved one would let something slip. Eventually it always came back to me like a brick through a window. Sometimes literally. The thing that bothered me most though, was the charade. It's a hard thing to lie about something that has shaped your life in such a dramatic way. We need to be able to talk to the people we love. We need to know we can trust them. I think that, for me, telling people became the ultimate test of that trust.

This brings me to the second approach, which was akin to ripping the bandage off and seeing what happened to the wound.

"Sooo... You know I don't talk about my family all that much? Well... that's because my mother is the Angel of Battersea. You heard of her? The serial killer that mutilated all those kids? Yep, that's the one. Crazy huh? Anyway, just thought you ought to know."

I don't recommend the second approach. At the very least it will cost you a fortune in shoes.

The third approach then is really the only way to go, and it usually goes like this:

For many years my mother was a prominent social worker in the Battersea area, considered to be a real champion of the people. She spent her days looking after the abused and the downtrodden and, for what it's worth, she was good at it. I often wonder how the people she helped reconcile that with what she became? It's hard to process that your hero is a monster. We don't know how it happened or what triggered it, and many psychologists have laboured on that point, but what we do know is that she first killed when I was two years old, and she continued to do so for another four years. The children were all from broken homes but, with a few notable exceptions, the ones that led to her capture in fact, they were not cases that she had personally worked on. When they did catch her she told them that they were mercy killings, that she was using them to send a message to God, but... How can what she did to those children be mercy? I honestly can't talk about it but you know. I mean, everyone fucking knows.

During the trail my family tried to shelter me from the truth but by the time I was eight years old I was smart enough to start putting things together. Not smart enough to understand, never smart enough to understand, but I got the picture. It wasn't until I was fourteen that a benevolent journalist was kind enough to point out that all the children my mother had killed had been the same age as me. What did I make of that? What did I make of that? Jesus Christ.

It seemed that trying to talk it out was the best approach and a few people had tried to stick around afterwards. Some of them really tried, and it was hard to hate them for failing. Eventually though, even the kindest souls seemed to buckle under the weight of the burden they were trying to share. Not to mention the fact that, well, everyone gets angry sometimes. When I get angry even my closest friends worry if they'll wake up with a bread knife sticking out of their skull...

Cut to about two months ago when I met my current girlfriend. I knew immediately that this one was something special. I had never met another human being like her. When her breath hit my cheek it was like she had made the air itself sacred. It scared the shit out of me. I knew straight away that I had to share my life with this woman, but sharing my life meant sharing my secrets and sharing my secrets scared people away.

We sat down in the front room and pulled two lounge chairs around so that we were could talk face to face. She asked for a cup of tea. I brought her whiskey and told her that she would have use for it. I braced myself and prepared to say goodbye to the best thing that had ever happened to me.

She listened to my story intently and remained frustratingly impassive. I talked and I talked and she listened and listened, giving nothing away. Eventually I ran out of things to say. I wanted to implore her to speak. She settled back in her chair and took a sip of whiskey. That's when I saw it. Relief?

"Wow. That's unbelievable."

"Yeah, I know but listen I-"

"No, no, that's not what I meant... It's just... Well... How should I put this?"

"Go on..."

"Let me tell you about my Dad."