I am the second Mrs. Roberts. The first Mrs. Roberts is dead. I am now known as Ashley Roberts. That death remains a mystery, her murder never having been solved. My husband, her ex says she fell off a cliff. The strange thing was a child’s kaleidoscope was found floating in the water beneath the cliff. Where did it come from? Why did she have it? Those and many more questions were never answered.
I met Daniel Roberts at a grocery store, a year after the first Mrs. Roberts died. He was in the frozen food section. I was looking for pepperoni pizzas. We struck up a conversation about how much better home-made pizza was than what I referred to as ‘cardboard pizza.’
We exchanged phone numbers and two weeks later, Daniel called me. We agreed to meet for coffee at a shop two blocks from my apartment. I walked there in twelve minutes. We talked for two hours over coffee and a shared piece of pecan pie. That date turned into many more.
Daniel never talked about his Sybil, and I never pushed him for information.
We were inseparable for the next year and got married Valentine’s Day. We honeymooned in Hawaii and settled into Daniel’s home. It was an old farmhouse in Maine. I left my parents, siblings and friends in South Carolina and moved to Maine.
I could never forget the first Mrs. Roberts. I was perplexed as to why Daniel refused to talk about her. I was always wondering about her death. I decided to do some investigating. I uncovered some strange information. Daniel and his wife, Sybil had only been married five years. They lost their only baby at age three. She fell into the family pool and drowned. Sybil had been drinking and did not hear the splash or the baby’s cries. Daniel never forgave Sybil and insisted she get help. So, hounded by her husband, Sybil attended AA meetings and did become sober. She never went back to drinking, but Daniel never forgave her.
Daniel locked the baby’s bedroom and hid the key. He placed her favorite toy, a kaleidoscope into a box, marked it and hid it in the garage, behind some toolboxes. He hid the key to the bedroom and never told Sybil where it was. They became only civil to each other. They each did their own thing and did not do any activities together. Daniel slept in the guest room. They never attended family functions together, always having an excuse for not being present.
Ashley uncovered all this information by talking to Daniel’s neighbors and family members. Something strange was going on; Ashley felt it in her bones. She was determined to get to the bottom of the mystery of Sybil’s death.
Daniel’s home had an acre of land. There was the cliff where Sybil died, surrounded by a lake. The farmhouse was white with brown shutters, two-storied. There was a balcony off the master bedroom. There was an apple orchard, grape vines and four peach trees. It was a lovely old home. Daniel had renovated it.
Ashley searched the grounds many times and never found a clue, until one fateful afternoon. She found a pair of glasses with cracked lens on one side. It was lying under some pine trees. Ashley wondered who the glasses belonged to. She searched through photo albums. She discovered an old photo of Daniel, wearing the same glasses. She asked him about the glasses, and he told her he lost them and never found them. Ashley never told him about her discovery.
She decided to surprise Daniel and organize his closet. Clothes were strewn about, and the closet was quite messy. While cleaning the closet and moving shoes around, Ashley noticed something peculiar about the closet wall. There seemed to be an area of the wall that had been repaired.
Ashley decided to investigate the spot. She scraped away the paint and found it had been patched. Using a putty knife, Ashley cut away the plaster. A medium-sized hole was left where the spot was. Inside the hole was a small box, caught in the wall. She removed it and found a note inside. The note read, “I didn’t mean to do it. You pushed me, Sybil. Why did you break into the baby’s room? Why couldn’t you let things alone?”
Ashley wondered what it all meant. Was this a confession? She decided to take it to the police. She loved her husband, but never completely trusted him. There had always been doubts in the back of her mind. He was too secretive about his marriage to Sybil.
Upon examining the note and the broken glasses, the policeman decided to turn it over to a lawyer and have the case reopened. There was a trial and Daniel was declared to be guilty of murder. Between the glasses, note and finding a kaleidoscope in the water, it was obvious that Daniel had murdered Sybil. He had been given a plea bargain and by confessing, he avoided death row. He was confined to life imprisonment.
Daniel told the jury the truth about Sybil’s death. That evening, he came home from work and found her in the baby’s room. She had used a screwdriver and hammer and took the door off the hinges. She had found the kaleidoscope and had it in her hands. In a rage, Daniel hit Sybil on her arm. She ran out of the house, with Daniel chasing her. They ended up near the cliff. Daniel lunged for his wife, and she jerked his glasses off in the struggle. They hit a rock and one side of the glasses shattered. Sybil fell off the cliff and into the water below. The kaleidoscope fell over the cliff as well. Daniel threw the glasses into a nearby pine forest.
So, the glasses and kaleidoscope had become Daniel’s downfall. The second Mrs. Roberts had solved the mystery and there would never be a third Mrs. Roberts.
I am a seventy-year-old writer, having been writing over forty years. I was previously published by Catholic Digest, Our Sunday Visitor, Sisters Today, Make 4 Fun and Back Porch Magazine. I had two children’s stories published by Bread ‘N Molasses. I was the only Southern writer in the Our Sunday Visitor Christmas writing contest in 2007. I am having two children’s audio books and two articles published in 2023. Although I reside in Oregon with my daughters and two cats, I have lived most of my life in Louisiana. I also do logic puzzles and design graphics. My ‘Southern Belle’ charm comes through in my writings.