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No One Knew

A Story from the Underside

Michelle Wilkins and Dynel Lane

It's been over three years since the terrible crime committed by Dynel Lane. Michelle Wilkins, the soon-to-be joyous mother, was robbed of her child by the planned sabotage of this seemingly insane woman. Finally after what felt like forever, the case closed with Lane's 100-year verdict, to be locked away until the end of her life. Appropriately.

After the horrendous actions from Lane, Michelle has taken to recovering in her life, trying to move forward after losing something so important and taking that trauma head on. We hope in her strength she can go back to a normal life, despite her scars.

At least, that's how these articles are always written.

After coming upon this website I, as a writer, have so many things I could write about. Stories of fiction that have been in the making for over five years. Things I'm so very passionate about that I've dreamed of presenting to the world. But I decided that instead of writing about the things I've planned for years to write, I decided instead on one of the most crucial turning points in my life.

So putting aside the fantasies my heart loves, I decided to face reality and talk about my mother as my first story.

Dynel Lane.

I'm still on the fence about writing this. But it's for the sake of the other parties involved in this story. Michelle who suffered for what my mother did to her. My family who still grieves in their own way. Dave, who still can't quite wrap his head around all this. And of course my brother, who has only recently been able to convince himself of talking normally to Mom again. There are a lot of people this story affects and because of that, I almost feel like it's rude to write it without asking them one by one. However, now that it's been over three years—I'm ready to talk about something that I think needs to be said. And rather than this discussion being, "She wasn't really crazy—" or "She was a good person," this is simply my story of change. Whiplash worthy change that left everyone terrified and confused—and for me and my brother, alone.

***

It starts when I turned 18.

February 7, a full month before everything that happened on March 18. Something so joyous and fresh in the mind. And my brother had his birthday in the same month to turn 16. In these moments, we were probably blind-sighted by the excitement of our newfound checkpoints in adulthood. It took our mind off the madness in the household as stresses grew between us all about the rising concerns we had for our mom. She was far overdue and none of us could convince her to go to the doctor.

More often than not she would feign sickness out of stress and lock herself in the bathroom to avoid any further conflict. And at the time, between Dave and her, it was an added strain on their relationship. Me and my brother hoped more often than not that things would finally be fixed, that Mom would finally break and when the time came to get her in the doctor's office, one day she would. All of us in the house knew already that James wasn't alive. We all knew he was miscarried at some point—but when, we never knew. Me and my brother had just come to terms with the fact that Mom was embarrassed, stressed, and overall, depressed about losing another child. Dave, on the other hand, was stressed, and he was increasingly more so with the slight hope his kid lived contested by the knowledge that James was dead.

I used to go to the gym with Dave. We'd wake up early, go work out, and then come back before 6 so we could get ready for school or work. And I remember, we went the day before everything. And while we were in the car, we talked about how we just knew. James was gone. Mom didn't want to come to terms with it. But now, all we could focus on was getting her into the doctor's for some help. That was our only concern. She needed medical help, maybe even psychological help if she was depressed about the miscarriage which no doubt was a given. Luckily, she was supposed to have a doctor's appointment on Wednesday the 18th. So we'd finally be able to get her help.

What really messes me up sometimes, though, is the night before this all happened. Me and my brother were playing video games in the basement, something we did all the time with no change. And I remember Mom coming in and she had this weird air about her. And she just said, "Hey, you know I love you guys, right?"

I thought it was silly, and I remember being thrown off by the way she said it. In hindsight, I suppose that was her, "If things go wrong, this is goodbye" goodbye.

And it was. That was the last time I saw her in person. And I blew it off like it didn't matter, because I didn't realize the gravity of what was about to happen. And thinking about it, I don't think she did either.

The next day, me and my brother, as the nerds we are, were at our school's Anime Club. I ran it as the secretary and my brother only occasionally stayed. Somehow, on Wednesday the 18th, that managed to be one of those days. It scares me to think what might've happened if that day he had gone home like he usually did. I'm terrified to think what he would have seen.

In the middle of Anime Club, I got a call. I was trying to demonstrate how best to draw anatomy, but people there were loud and excited as usual so it was no surprise to me that no one was paying any attention. So when I got this call, the club went on as usual—and I was ready to hear the news from Mom. This call—being the precursor to the next few hours of grief, misplaced fear, confusion, and heart-wrenching sadness—still haunts me. Some people don't remember much about the traumas that happen to them. Some need these repressions to go on functioning. For me, I remember everything vividly. Mom had called me. I remember sitting at my teacher's desk, picking up the phone with a wide smile because of the club's silliness, looking at the Photoshop file on the computer, and just saying, "Hi, Mom!"

"Where are you?!" is the first thing I remember my mom saying. It threw me off considering she stayed at home and always waited for us to get back from school, Anime Club especially since we stayed later. Or sometimes she would come pick us up. She knew about the after school club, though, which was why I was so thrown.

"It's Wednesday, we're at Anime Club," I said. I remember kind of laughing about it too, because it was something I thought should have been obvious. But then I grew concerned as she began to talk about Dave and how he left to get us. The tone of her voice turned into something I knew from her as anxious and like she was hiding something. I asked what was wrong. I only remember being told, "James didn't make it."

And while of course we expected this, my mind wove a story already. Dave was supposed to get us, wasn't there, and currently Mom was alone at the hospital. I had thought he had let his temper get the best of him and maybe was driving around somewhere in rage or grief. In that moment, I ended Anime Club and sent everyone home. Me and my brother had to walk home just in case things got out of hand and we had to be there to either wait for Dave to get there or wait for them to call us again to hear more news. But I had to tell my brother while we walked home. About James.

But that's only the beginning of all this terror. After our tears and after cheering each other up to keep our chin up, we turned to our street and were struck dumb when we saw it was blocked off by more police cars than we had ever seen. I saw Dave first, the car parked, him leaning up against it. My first thought was that he had gotten in trouble or that he had driven into something out of anger. But as I got closer, I soon saw that that was not the case. I remember crying again, my brother holding my hand as we drew closer. He was the strongest between us both. I was too easy to my stress.

We were split up by two separate cops that wanted to talk to us alone. And then after that, we were ushered to a cop car and driven to the police station. We didn't get to talk to Dave. We got to the police station and the first thing that happened was me and my brother were separated to be talked to by a detective. Several hours later, we were let back in the same room where we were once again trying to negate the stresses we were experiencing. While in there, I thought something terrible had happened to mom. Why were there so many cop cars on our cul-de-sac? If Mom was in the hospital, had she been attacked? Who did it? I had honestly thought my mom had gotten hurt somehow if we were here and there was so much activity at our house.

But then they sent in a few people. There were two people who were there for therapy—victims advocates or something along those lines. And then the detective who had talked to me. With only a short moment of relief, they had told us that Mom was okay, she wasn't hurt. But being that it was short relief, we were soon after told the truth about everything.

Mom had gone from my best friend, my partner in crime, and the person I couldn't live without, who I feared had been very hurt—to a complete stranger. All in the span of a singular minute. A whiplash change that left me... alone. Sometime later, when I stopped dehydrating myself, I had shut off. I made sure me and my brother were in a stable home, we got care packages from the station because we weren't allowed to go home for a few nights, and then we waited. And then we were let go. Grandma and my aunt had arrived at the station after we had been let out. The moment I saw them, it was like reality broke in front of me. The last time I remember crying that hard was at Michael's funeral, the little brother who had passed away after drowning. I was a mess. And I regret it.

From then on me and my brother had to stick together. We had felt like we were the only ones left in our lives, something that solidified our terror once our grieving outside of school was over. Going back was terrifying to me. Having to face my friends was unthinkable. I only remember coming back after a very long time and realizing nothing would ever be the same.

Three years. It took me three years to finally say I'm okay after all this. Me and my brother having lost our mom before we were ready really just strikes a nerve. For a while, I felt guilty about being so distraught. I never gave myself the time to grieve. I never let myself. I was convinced that, because it was my mom who did wrong, I didn't deserve it. But that was the only way I looked at it. My mom was the attacker, not the victim. She took something so important from someone and because of that, she became a terrible villain. Because I made myself see it that way, I never gave myself the benefit of succumbing to the pent-up emotions.

The truth was, even though my mother did something terrible—I did lose her. She is no longer in my life for us to go enjoy movies together, for us to giggle about stupid things only we would understand, to have "girls night" when we were feeling stressed, to eat cookie dough straight outta the carton like heathens. Staying up until the early morning just enjoying mother daughter time, me telling her all the things I got to do at school, or her telling me about the new trick she learned to do our nails. All those things were gone in a flash. Not the memories of them. Just the means of doing them. She was the villain for a while. And in a way, because of my anger, I disowned her. I disconnected her from me and tried to pretend that for what she did, she deserved it. That it was a punishment if I didn't talk to her. That it was a punishment if I didn't see her. And my brother thought the same. But after a while, I realized I couldn't just toss her out like she was garbage.

Yes, she did terrible things. She deserves prison, and by no means would I ever want her sentence shortened. For doing what she did, like all people who do wrong, she has to face the consequences. But I can stop pretending like she isn't my mother, like it's a punishment only to her if I never talk to her or see her again. Because, in truth, it hurts me too. I can let the disconnect sunder itself, or I can bridge it with connections we are allowed to have now. Make new memories. Something I plan to do. Because as it stands, what the world doesn't know is that despite what she did and despite how the world has come to see her, she was the best mom, one that you mourn for in movies because of how hard they work, how desperate they are for their children to have good lives. There wasn't ever a moment my mom wasn't stressed. There was rarely ever a moment she got to just rest. And whenever that happened, she would spend it with us.

She sacrificed so much for us. Her free time, her well-earned money outside of bills and rent, and dare I say the mental help she no doubt needed time for. And it hurts to think that now that I'm 21, a bonafide adult, I can never truly return the favor. I can't help with bills. I can't help find us a better home that we can stay in for longer than six months working to help pay rent. I can't ease up the stress I always saw her in. I just can't return the favor now that I'm finally here, an adult living on my own who had only that plan of graduating high school and then dedicating my time to helping Mom. A part of me wishes I had just balanced a job in high school like some kids do so I could have done something then. But I didn't. And I regret that.

Everyone can write articles about what she did and how horrible she was for it. And none of them could be any more right by it. She attacked Michelle Wilkins. She took from that poor woman something that can never be replaced, something my mother should know full well the pain of losing. I'm angry that she would ever do something so heinous when she knows how hard it is losing a child. To think she would do it herself still baffles me. I still to this day wish wholeheartedly to reach out to Michelle, to tell her how sorry I am for what my mom has done, to tell her how much I've been hoping she makes a recovery—not just physically but mentally. I hope that trusting people is easy again. I hope that she has hope of a child again. I just hope that she can, too. I hope she can live beyond this.

If someday we ever talk, I hope she knows how much me and my family have mourned for her. I hope she knew how many people were at her support, ready to celebrate her victory when the verdict was revealed. I still mourn for her. But I know she'll be okay. Someone with as much strength to be sure justice is served but still forgive in the way that she won't let something so horrible consume her life—how could she not? I admire her. Always have since the trial. In a way, I think her strength inspired mine. I don't think it would ever be fair for her to read these next sentences—but in a way, she really was a mother. To her lost child. And to the children who had lost their own. She inspired so much in us to move on. If she could after having been affected in such a way by my mom, how could we not follow suit for having suffered much less?

Of course I miss my mother. I want her back in my life so we can return to the way things used to be. Like a child, I miss the nights where she would be there to help me through tough times, where she was only a door away and I could just go lay with her and know it would be easier to sleep. The best memories of her are of her lightly rubbing my arm to get me there if I was in pain because of a migraine or because of severe muscle pains. But that's a selfish day dream, one I'm finally okay with saying is gone. It doesn't hurt any less. But I can face it head on now and say I'm okay.

The world knows my mom as a crazy psychopath. And that's fine. She has done what she has, and in all honesty, she may have possibly been. I won't defend those allegations because what is there to defend? My mother committed a terrible crime, one of pure evil. She robbed a mother of the very things I as a daughter miss, things no doubt her child would have made memories of just the same. But...

I have the memories at least of who she was before then. She was my mother, which makes what she did far more troubling. How could someone so good, so normal in life flip a switch like that? How could someone I had known to be the epitome of a perfect wonderful mother and best friend, turn into something so heinous and terrible in a split second? A question I've been asking since it happened, something no doubt Michelle has been asking having been a victim of that cruel mystery, a question everyone who knows the truth behind my mother has been asking. I wish I could tell you. But that's just it.

No one knew. Not even her.

Ash Cruz
Ash Cruz

I've been a writer for a long time. I adore fiction and the expanse of world I can do with as I please. Though, i'll just be posting what I needed to hear going through some tough times. I'm sure there are a lot of people who need it too.

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