Summary: A story of perception and deception based on hypocrasy.
Out of the shadow came sweet little Matilda, an elderly woman who was very sociable and liked to talk to everyone and anyone. Everyone knew Matilda in the town, she was there from day dot – she was always there. No one could imagine the town without her she was so well known and so kind and helpful.
Matilda would always arrive unannounced she was quite a character, almost like a silent assassin, you just turned around and she was behind you. Immediately she would join in your conversation whether you wanted her to or not, whether you invited her to or not. Matilda would be there, her eyes wide open, revealing the deepest sky blue twinkling eyes you have ever seen. Her smile would reveal porcelain white teeth and the crevices on her face were those of laughter lines, dear sweet Matilda – the whole town loved her. She was first in the queue of volunteers; she was the last out of the kitchen of the church whenever there was a function. Sold, reliable and well loved that was our Matilda and she would receive many invitations from all the townsfolk to attend their weddings, baptisms and birthday parties. Many local churches would invite her along to their fates or coffee mornings, because she was the oldest resident with the cheeriest disposition.
Dear sweet Matilda harboured a secret, a sinister secret that no one knew about but her family knew, her sons and daughters who no longer resided in the town knew. Indeed they had moved to the four corners of the globe, it turns out to escape from her wickedness and cruelty. Matilda was sweet to the townsfolk on the outside, but on the inside she really was a nasty piece of work.
Matilda regularly beat her children, to the point that some required medical attention. She never took them to see the town Doctor, such an act of compassion would betray her. No Matilda preferred to present a happy front, be involved in the lives of all the others but kept her life secret from the townsfolk.
It wasn’t until her death that the town realised she was not who she appeared to be. Her family had washed their hands of her; some didn’t even know that she had children. She never spoke of them, never mentioned them in conversation. Unlike most parents who speak either with great pride in their children, Matilda had nothing to say.
As the executor of her estate poured over the contents of her home, he stumbled across a journal. Matilda had kept a journal all her life, it was a diary of all the baptisms, weddings, funerals and birthdays she had attended. It contained details of all the townsfolk. The journal was laced with poison, not the kind that you digest and kills you stone dead but the venomous kind that only those who are troubled would write.
One entry she wrote ‘Went to fat Sam’s 50th birthday party. Huh, I remember when Sam was born, an ugly looking baby then and still ugly now. Takes after his parents, Ellie thinks she is pretty but I outrank her and as for that low life man of hers, he’ll never beat my Frank, in selling cars. My Frank sold a car to his sister, it was a mouldy old thing but with a bit of elbow grease and polish, looked the part, after all we’re not a charity, and we need the money.’
A later entry she wrote, ‘Fat Sam’s ugly little sister died today in her car. Seems there was something wrong with it, but I know, I know what she was like, probably flirting at every passing man in a car and not looking where she was going, no way is Frank paying out that money to those low lives.’
Matilda was the personification of wholesome and goodness to the townsfolk, but her journal betrayed her. As the executor read on, it was quite clear that Matilda was a nasty piece of work. She had an opinion on everything and everyone and every opinion she harboured was nasty, to the point of being evil. Her journals revealed not so much as a troubled mind, for it was quite clear that Matilda knew fine well what she was doing but she was manipulative in doing it.
One of the other entries in her journal went like this, ‘Went to Thelma’s for lunch, miserable lunch as usual in that run down, porch that she thinks is her grand palace. Cold coffee and stale bread, her pumpkin pie is a feeble attempt too.’ The final entry was the hardest for the executor to read, “Went to church today, church cold, people common, pastor’s wife boorish and that silly man doesn’t know his Bible, not like me, I know every book from the beginning to the end – just have to ask me and I can recite them in any order. Call that a picnic, that’s no picnic these people are insane, I would eradicate the lot of them.”