A Jacaranda Dunne Mystery
Quietly, Florica swung her legs out of bed and sat up. She waited, listening for the slightest sound that could tell her if anyone else was awake but all she could hear was the incessant droning of the cicadas. Their house was not small but it was overcrowded; all her life she had shared a room with one or other of her siblings. She could see her two younger sisters clearly by the rays of the moon that shone through the open window. They lay curled up together in the bed next to her. Lala, the baby of the family, slept with her mouth open, and her tiny rhythmic snores floated gently into the humid air. There was no movement from either of them. Gingerly she got out of bed and went to the bathroom where she had hidden her clothes in the laundry basket.
It took her only a moment to dress, and carrying her shoes in her hand she crept down the stairs and out onto the back patio. She and Hanzi had discussed their plans earlier; he did not want to leave anything to chance. He had told her to pack a bag and leave it outside in the shed ready for when she left. Now all she had to do was collect it from its hiding place and leave. Roki, their dog, was sleeping on a pile of sacks by the shed. She prayed that he would not bark when he saw her, but all he did was wag his tail in greeting. ‘Good boy, Roki,’ she whispered, bending down and rubbing his ears. She would have liked to have taken him with her but that was impossible. He continued to watch her with his large sad eyes as she pulled out her bag; he knew something was wrong. She was going to miss him. She was going to miss them all. It was hard for her to leave her home but she had no option; she was not wanted here anymore. She thought of her sleeping sisters. What would they say in the morning when they discovered that she had gone? They would cry. She knew that; they cried at anything, lost cats, sad films, sentimental songs. They would miss her, but would anyone else? Her mother? No. She had thought her mother would understand when she knew what had happened to her, would support her even, but she should have known that her mother would never go against the patriarch. She looked back at the house. Everything was in darkness. They were all fast asleep; even from where she stood she could hear her father’s loud snores. If she went back now, nobody would ever know what she had intended to do. She wiped a tear from her cheek and slid back the bolt on the patio gate. It was too late to change plans now; Hanzi was waiting for her.