The Opening Sentence: Linda Who Died Of A Broken Heart

After a long break, a new post in my fiction project The Opening Sentence — read all about it here, check out previous posts here and share any thoughts/ideas/criticisms below. This one takes its title and opening line from a 1935 newspaper article about a police horse. But I can’t write convincingly about horses, so we’ll go in a different direction . . .

With the tumult and shouting of the showground behind her, death, sudden and without pain, came to Linda.

This was not the way I had planned it. Let’s make no bones about it; I wanted her dead. But I wanted her to suffer too. So far, she hadn’t suffered enough.

I wasn’t quite angry enough to risk a murder conviction. At least, I don’t think I was. If you asked me the same question again next Friday, my answer probably would be different. But dying the way she did — anyone would assume a heart attack from the way she crumpled to the ground — didn’t seem like a sufficient punishment for all the pain and chaos she had caused.

Inevitably, that kind of death caused its own version of chaos as well. It was a busy Friday afternoon, so the showground was packed, schoolkids and over-attentive mothers and people who had finished work early. Everywhere you looked there was movement. That was a promising sign for the day’s takings. Then Linda carked it in the middle of the main thoroughfare.

The woman standing right next to her screamed. That attracted even more of a crowd. Someone pulled out their mobile phone and called an ambulance, but it must have been at least 10 minutes before any medical personnel showed up. By then it was much too late. Judging by the speed of Linda’s collapse, it would have been too late if she’d collapsed next to the Red Cross tent.

Fortunately, no-one suggested shutting down the whole show. I’m only guessing, but I assume that it was so evident she had died from natural causes that there didn’t seem any need to treat the whole thing like a murder investigation. It’s still possible, I suppose, that the police will insist we stay around for a few days. I hope not. If it comes to that, I might have to show the local constabulary my copy of Linda’s medical history. It would be awkward to explain why I had a copy of it though.

On reflection, it surely won’t come to that. Her cow of a mother is bound to show up — she only lives a couple of hours’ drive away. And she’ll be eager to tell all. That family never missed an opportunity to talk about their health problems. Sometimes I wonder why I thought I needed those medical records. Most of their content was on Facebook anyway, if you knew where to look.

Steve doesn’t know yet. I’d agreed to take the Friday afternoon shift and he’ll be opening on Saturday. I should have called him as soon as it happened, I suppose. But what was I supposed to say? I know he was planning to catch up on sleep — I’ll tell him I didn’t see any point in disturbing him. Hopefully that way we’ll avoid a row. But perhaps not. Death so often leads to arguments.

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