Martin Petersen was an arsehole. That's what most people who ever met him thought. A thin, balding man with thick rimmed glasses and an acne problem. Two bulbous eyes and a crook nose which was always red raw from a long suffered severe pollen allergy.
He was an Office Supervisor in the legal department of Macland Financial Enterprises. At 42, his life was a lonely one. No money worries, but then also no friends and no relationships. Petersen lived with his elderly mother in an old Victorian town house, although he never admitted it.
His mother was a stern, tough woman, with a passion for flowers and gardening. Petersen didn't see much of her at home as she always busied herself amongst her flora. Petersen was sure she did it on purpose because she knew it tormented his allergies. She was that sort of spiteful bitch. Her preoccupation didn't bother him though, the less he saw of her, the less he was reminded of his vile hatred of her. She tormented him even in her absence. Every morning there would be a fresh arrangement of flowers in a vase on the kitchen table. Every morning Petersen would cover his face with one hand, and with the other, grab the flowers and shove them into the kitchen bin. He would then wash his hands in the large stone sink, and then suck on his inhaler, before picking up his briefcase from the sideboard by the front door, and leaving for work.
She knew all too well that flowers aggravated his allergy. Prolonged exposure could be fatal. Bitch.
Petersen had lived with his mother all his life. His father had left home when he was a boy and from what he could remember of him, he was glad. What a pair his parents had been. An evil spiteful mother and a drunken abusive father. The house still bore the wounds of anger that his father had left from his many rages. Petersen still had the faint imprint of his father's sovereign ring on his thigh. Thinking back though, it was only once his father had left that his mother became so cruel. He had once had such a loving connection with her. They shared some similar scars, but when his father left, she seemed to change. It deeply effected her. Petersen could remember returning one day from school, to find his mother in the garden sobbing. Back then it was just an old muddy bit of land, but since that day she became obsessed with her flowers and soon turned the garden into a mass of colour and pollen. Petersen never saw much more of his mother from then on, she spent so much time in the garden and his allergies prevented him from being with her. She knew of his crippling pollen allergy, but it only seemed to fuel her passion further. Soon fresh flowers began to appear in the house and Petersen found himself with little refuge. He would throw the flowers away, but everyday more flowers would appear. Petersen never felt close to his mother again. She distanced herself from him and was forever in that blasted garden. In the last thirty years they had only really shared brief discussions, and most of them ended in arguments.
Why was his life so shit? These thoughts stayed with him throughout the day as they often did. From getting into his run down Morris Minor, heading off the driveway and through the town to work, all throughout the day, and then those same thoughts followed him home again. The belief that his life couldn't possibly get any worse than how it was proved the only thing that motivated him to carry on. He rounded the corner of his street and pulled up onto his driveway. He sat in the car for a few minutes, the only solitude he seemed to get these days. But hot, knackered and stinking of sweat, he clambered out of the car and up to the front door of the house. He struggled with armfuls of paperwork he had brought from his office, and produced his keys. He unlocked the door and pushed it open to be greeted by the rank smell of excrement, urine and the dead body of his mother, prostrate across the kitchen floor.
Petersen's face remained emotionless. He simply placed his files down on the sideboard and picked up the phone receiver in the hall and dialled an ambulance. He then walked into the kitchen, stepping over his mother's corpse, and put the kettle on.
Three weeks later Petersen had already made some positive steps to change his life. Staying clear of pollen he had felt great and not needed his inhaler for at least the last week. He had embraced the fact that his parents were gone. No abusive father and no uncaring vindictive mother. He had paid labourers in and they had started to landscape the garden. Various heavy machinery had already mowed down all the flower beds and was digging a foundation for a new patio. No flowers.
Petersen was enjoying a quiet coffee whilst reading the local paper, when shouting erupted from the garden.
Petersen left the table and headed out toward the back door only to be greeted by one of the labourers. A rather old man, covered in mud and grime.
"What happened?" Petersen quizzed the man.
"Have you ever spent much time in the garden?" The old man asked.
"No, none. Why? What's happened?"
"Surely you've been out there?"
"Look I told you I'm fatally allergic to pollen. I've not been in the garden for about thirty years. My mother made sure of that. Now are you going to tell me what's going on?"
"I think you had better come and see for yourself."
The old labourer headed back out to the garden and a rather confused Petersen followed.
In the garden all work had stopped and the labourers had gathered around a freshly dug hole in the bottom end of the garden. In the hole were the clearly discernable remains of a body. Although dirty and still partially buried, the white of bone shone from the mud like diamonds.
Petersen walked over to the small crowd which stopped muttering and parted to let him through. He peered into the grave and a terrible sense of foreboding fell upon him. One of the men stepped toward Petersen.
"Excuse me mate, did you know him?"
Petersen's mind was racing and the gravity of the situation was slowly occurring to him.
The labourer stared at Petersen for a few moments before offering his hand.
"We found this with the body."
Petersen took the rusted sovereign ring from the man.
"The body was only a few feet down. I'm guessing your mother knew about it."
Petersen stepped back from the grave and looked at the ring in his hand. He turned it around and around with his fingers, remembering the imprint of it on his thigh.
"She was trying to protect me."
"I'm sorry mate?"
"She did it to protect me from what she had done. What she...had to do."
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