Twilight Over Athens

Sheila Demetriou was considered odd by some, perhaps by many. Sheila, you see, had a tendency to fall in love with inanimate objects.

Before smuttier minds rush to the wrong conclusion, Sheila’s desires were not towards the products of seedy corner stores, nor for just any old objects: Sheila loved mirrors.

She loved the clarity of the glass and the rectangular perfection of the edges, but Sheila especially loved a nice bevelled edge. Her obsession was blissfully easy to satisfy, and her apartment was a maze lined with mirrors of many shapes and sizes. This confused many visitors, leading to some frankly stony silences, but she couldn’t stand to have a space uncovered by a layer of silver and glass.

Our story could have ended there, with Sheila and her thousand mirrors. However, there was one tiny problem: as much as Sheila loved her mirrors, she hated her own reflection.

Her favourite time of day wasn’t daytime at all, but sunset, when she could sit on her chair and watch the dwindling rays of light shimmer around the room, with only a silhouette to indicate her presence. In those moments, Sheila felt truly alive.

When the sun came up, she would see herself reflected over and over again, an endless parade of Sheilas, and she would instinctively cringe away. Sometimes, she would cover herself with a shawl from head to foot, and try to imagine that she was someone else. It never worked: the mirrors could see through her deception. A better strategy was to sit in odd corners of her apartment and angle the mirrors obliquely. This would bring the gorgeous Greek coastline inside, and Sheila enjoyed sitting and staring at the bevelled water, trying to avoid meeting the curious stares of passers-by, who were drawn to the glimmering reflections in her apartment windows.

It wasn’t that Sheila was ugly. Nobody would want to be near her in a dark alley, or, worse, in a well-lit alley, but her ugliness wasn’t the problem: it was that she hadn’t always been ugly. She once was beautiful, but her own pride and another’s jealousy had stripped that beauty away.

Sheila had heard tell of an amulet, a magical talisman that could help with her affliction. If it could restore even a hint of her former grace, she would be content, but finding it had proved difficult. The stories were plentiful, but the amulet remained elusive, and her years of searching had led to despair.

In the depths of desperation, Sheila visited a fortune-teller, a seer. The seer stared deep into Sheila’s purse, and told her that what she sought was “nearby.” Sheila stared deep into the seer’s eyes, and he spoke no more.

She visited another seer, then another, but their responses were vague and the amulet remained out of her reach.

Finally, Sheila summoned up her courage and went to visit the Oracle. She knew about the Oracle, of course, but it was daunting to visit someone who knows all of the answers before you even ask the questions.

The Oracle lived up to her reputation. Her door swung open before Sheila had knocked, and she was swept inside in a flurry of overlapping greetings and revelations.

“Hello my dear come in you were about to knock but now you never will, so did I know that you would knock or did I know that I would stop you from knocking and now you’re wondering about my sanity and if I ever get a chance to breathe? There’s too much flapping around in here,” she continued, tapping on her ancient skull, “and I have to let it out or the pressure will build up and there will be a simply dreadful explosion. Have you ever tried to get bone out of the carpet? No I don’t suppose you’d have that issue, dear, but trust me, it’s not a pleasant one. Now you’re wondering whether you should speak? No, don’t bother, I know why you’re here, and it’s much easier if I do the talking, you’re doing me a favour, really. You didn’t need to kill those frauds, and you’re sorry, but at least they won’t be doing any further harm, no weeping, poor girl. As for your question, yes, I’m pleased to tell you that there is a solution to your problem, it is the amulet you’ve been seeking, and I do know where it is. You want to know exactly where, of course, and it’s, oh, under that chair, I think. I’m sorry about the mess, my house tends to reflect my mind. It’s not there? No, of course not, I put it on the counter, so you’d be able to find it. Well? Hurry up girl. Put it on. There you are, problem solved. Would you like a coffee? No, no, that’s all right. Now off you go, I’ll email you the account in a day or two.”

Sheila made her way home, somehow, still puzzling over the strange woman and her words. She didn’t feel any different, aside from the dull weight of the amulet around her neck and the confusion that pulsed through her. She needed some time to think. She needed her mirrors.

She opened the apartment door and rushed into the room of reflections. What she saw astounded her.

The amulet had not returned the pink cheeks and glossy hair of her youth. It had not unwoven the wrinkles of age, nor even restored the plump curves that had so inflamed her suitors of old.

Looking back from the mirrors was still the crooked, wretched face of a Gorgon, a face with the power of petrification. And yet, something had changed.

For Sheila stared, and she did not hate. She stared, and stared, and the tiniest tear welled up in her eye. She stared some more, at an infinity of smiling Sheilas, and the teardrop broke, running down a face that was already hardening and growing cold.

This piece was written for Nika Harper’s Wordplay #12. The challenge was magic, with the prompts “indigenous” and “an amulet of love and mirrors.”

Wanted, a home

Sally wasn’t like the other girls. She wasn’t like the boys either, not exactly. Sally had a secret, and she felt like it was written all over her face. It wasn’t, for the record. She had a very pleasant face, although a few too many worry lines for a girl of her age. But she simply couldn’t be around the other children, and it was hard.

Sally’s secret was large and cumbersome. It gurgled, sometimes, like her stomach when she’d eaten too many plums. At other times, it whispered to her, begging her to tell someone, anyone. But Sally knew that a secret should be kept, so she did. She didn’t know what secrets ate, so she made sure she ate a little of everything. She watered it every day so it wouldn’t dry up.

Her mother sometimes said that the walls had ears, so she didn’t even speak the secret in her bedroom; although she couldn’t recall seeing a wall with ears, and wondered whose they were. She didn’t ask her mother, though, because her mother had secrets of her own.

Sally’s mother had carried secrets all her life. She was a postal worker, and the strain of delivering so many secrets every day had taken its toll. Her face was faded and expressionless, Sally thought, like a sheet that had been washed too many times, and started to wear through. She sometimes wondered what would happen if her mother’s secrets finally burst through that translucent skin and all over the house. Would they creep into Sally, and join her own secret? Would they grow legs and stride from the house like the strange shadow creatures her brother had told her about? Sally hoped it wouldn’t happen when she was around, because she thought one secret was enough for anyone.

Sally’s secret hadn’t come to her on spindly legs, or in a sealed envelope. Her secret had been whispered, as all good secrets must, by her granny. Her granny had been old, then,  and worn down by her secrets. Sally’s family visited her in the hospice, that last night, and she gave them each a secret to carry away. Sally’s mother looked sad, afterwards, and Sally suspected she had been given more than one secret to keep. Sally took hers carefully, and had kept it ever since.

It wasn’t a big secret back then, not at first. It had grown to its current size quite suddenly, when her father had died. He hadn’t carried any secrets, not her plain-speaking poppa: he was hit by a bus.

After that, Sally’s secret was sometimes so heavy that she had to stay in bed. She would pull the covers up over her head and tell her mother she was sick. It wasn’t good to lie, but it was worse to talk about a secret. Her grandmother had told the secrets, then she had died. That was pretty clear evidence in Sally’s eyes, and she wasn’t ready to die yet.

Time passed, and Sally’s secret got easier to carry. It was still large and heavy, but Sally was stronger. She caught herself sometimes, forgetting to feed the secret, even forgetting about it altogether. But she continued to keep it.

Like all little girls, Sally eventually grew up. She grew strong and she made friends. The secret was still there, but she had buried it deep inside, a low-maintenance pet, or imaginary companion, just another minor aspect of herself.

Then, one otherwise normal evening, Sally met a girl with hair the colour of glowing coals, and a mind the colour of eternity. Sally fell in love. So did the girl.

Days passed, then weeks, and their love grew deeper and stronger. They were inseparable, joined at the heart, yet Sally felt free. She forgot about the ears in the walls, for there were no boundaries now. Wrapped together in a darkness so deep and peaceful that nothing else seemed to exist, Sally whispered her secret.

The ungrateful little bitch.

After all of our years together, she just passed me off in the night, like a common rumour. Yes, yes, she was happy, ecstatic even, blossoming in the verdant light of love and all that, but what about me? What’s a secret to do when it’s no longer perfect?

I should have gone to the grave with the old bat, but instead I’m torn apart, distorted and wrong.

I suppose I should be grateful, in a sense. I’ve done my time served in that wretched little head, and it’s not my fault she couldn’t handle me, in the end.

If you know how to really look after a secret, a real secret, then come closer. Let me whisper in your ear.

Campfire Clichés

… with a hook for a hand!”

“Hold up there a moment, Phil! Are we supposed to believe that a secure psychiatric facility let a criminally insane inmate keep his prosthetic hook, and incidentally his murder weapon?”

“Nah, don’t be stupid – he made a new one after he escaped.”

“Dude, Karen’s mom wears a prosthetic foot, or had you forgotten? You’re saying he ‘made’ a new hand, like it was nothing!? Do you know how long it takes to fit those things?”

“Well it was the old days…”

“Right, when fabrication of synthetic appendages was much easier…”

“Look, question it as much as you like, it’s a true story! I don’t know how he did it, but it’s only a hook – maybe he strapped a gaff to his arm!”

“True story? Let’s see – who’s got reception?”

“I’ve got two bars, but no 3G down here. Let me check from the ridge.”

“Really, Sue, you’re walking up there by yourself? Didn’t you hear Phil? There’s a killer on the loose!”

“Fine… Dan, you come with me. Last one back gets taken!”

“Hey! Damn, she’s fast! See you guys soon.”

“That was too easy. Reckon they’ll get together up there?”

“Eurgh! That’s my sister, man. And your fat friend!”

“So he’s carrying an extra pound or two – he’s an awesome guy. Much better than some I could name. And he worships Sue.”

“Whatever. He’d better not try anything, or I’ll add another lump or two.”

“Lucky you’re not really such an arsehole, or you’d be out here alone, practising your guitar under the stars and singing to keep the maniacs at bay.”

“With my voice, I’d probably set them off! Speaking of, we gonna scare them when they get back?”

“Hell yeah! We need something good, though, something simple – none of your ‘hook’ bullshit. It was scary when we were 10, but it’s just sad now.”

“Hey, Sue? Any luck? God, that hill was steep!”

“Hardly a hill, but yeah, at least I’m not the only one panting. I’m loading Snopes now. Let’s take our time – I want that bastard to squirm, with his ancient urban legends!”

“Yeah, so much crap. But none of us could come up with anything better.”



“I’m just wondering. Of course the story is fiction… but they don’t know that.”

“I like the way you think! What do you have in mind?”

“I have a plan, but first we wait. Let’s stay up here for, say, another hour.

“I’ve, um, got an idea about that, too – come over here.”

“Mmm! Sue! I wasn’t expecting that. Er, sorry… I’m not a very good kisser.”

“I wouldn’t say that! But let’s practise some more, anyway…”

“Sshhh… They’re asleep!”

“Well that ‘hour’ did last a very long time. Not that I’m complaining.”

“Looks like they were planning to scare us, the bastards, hiding behind the tents!”

“How dare they? What’s the plan?”

“Hold the sark, it doesn’t work in whispers! First, we grab the ketchup… Quietly!”

“Phil? Phil, you awake?”

“Ah, let me sleep!”

“Wake up man! Something’s really fucking wrong!”

“Okay, okay. What the hell?”

“Open your bloody eyes! The tents!”

“Holy motherfuc… Where’s Sue?”

“They’re not here – I already looked. Fuck, man. The tents, the gear, gone. ”

“They probably just took it to screw with u… Oh shit! Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!”

“What? Take it easy, man, that’s my scout knife? So they forgot something. Oh. Fuck. Is that blood?”

“I don’t know. Don’t touch it – are you fucking nuts? Still got your phone?”

“Yeah, it’s here – half-charged. Okay, let’s call for help.”

“Hang on. We both need to calm down first. Breathe!”

“Fuck waiting, we need the cops.”

“And what if it’s all a joke? Call Sue and Dan first.”

“Fine – I’m trying Sue now…”

“Hear that?”

“Ssshh, think it’s over this way.”

“Hurry! It’s getting louder.”

“There it i… Dude? I don’t feel so good…”

“Damnit! Dave? Dave! Sue? Oh my God! Sis!”

“… And he fainted. You should have seen the look on Phil’s face, when he saw you covered in blood! His eyes rolled up like this…”

“Did uncle Phil really faint?”

“Yep, even bumped his head on the way down!

“Of course, he never tells anyone that part, but he won’t bore you with the hook story, either, and you can thank me and your father for that.”


This piece was written for Nika Harper’s Wordplay #4. The challenge was dialogue, with the prompts “starlight and an acoustic guitar” and “why you just don’t get it.”

The Cold Case

Her name was Death. I looked at my receptionist’s note again, squinted, then reached for my glasses. Her name was D’Eath. Surname, that is. Her first was Maryanne, which was far easier to parse.

She looked over at me. I should say “down,” in the interests of accuracy. She looked down, then, and her face was a puzzle.

“As if the height isn’t enough?” I asked her. I like to get those things out of the way up-front: framing, I think it’s called.

“I’m sorry?” She had an accent, hard to place, and her eyebrows danced prettily as she spoke.

“You’re thinking that I must be cursed – not just a dwarf, but a short-sighted one. You’re wondering if my mother drank too much, or what I did in a former life to deserve this.”

“No, I…” The pause, and the guilty contraction of her lips joined a deliberate stilling of the eyebrow dance: a bad poker face.

“It’s okay, I get it. In the interests of full disclosure, I’m actually long-sighted. I also have a slight limp, several fillings, and my voice squeaks when I try to shout. On the other hand, you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel already, and I’m the best you’re going to get.”

“I really didn’t mean…” You didn’t see many real blushes, not on my side of town, and it was a welcome sight. Maybe I’d been too hard on her.

“I’m just playing with you, Maryanne. It’s my real failing – I can’t resist teasing a client. Probably why I don’t get much repeat business. Why don’t you tell me what you need, and I’ll see if I can help.”

The blush remained, but she exhaled loudly, which was quite a sight in that outfit, and told me her story.

Why is it always the pretty ones who wind up in trouble?

She’d been hurt. They’ve always been hurt, but she’d been hurt bad; the kind of hurt that ties you up and leaves you in a dark cellar for days on end. The beatings came later, probably rape too, reading between the lines.

That’s what I do, when you get down to it: I take a job and I read the story between the lines, pencilling in the filthy narrative that nobody wants to speak aloud. Rape, betrayal, torture, murder. Not necessarily in that order. Give me a dirty word and I’ll give you a case file, a sleepless night, a healthy dram of Scotch.

She told me she was okay. Another bad poker face.

She cried. I listened. I read what there was to see. It was enough.

I left her there in my office, elegant hands still gracefully adding tear-stained tissues to the bin, and went to visit the bastard who had hurt her.

My car isn’t much, but it’s modified for my size, and gets me places. The bodywork is still good, and the engine runs more often than not. She started first try, and I drove slowly to Maryanne’s address, turning the job over in my mind.

The house was unremarkable. A drab cottage on a drab street, it screamed of mundanity. I hate the mundane: it’s usually a front for despair, which drives too many of my cases. Even the flowers in the front garden looked depressed, and I couldn’t blame them.

Give me a shabby but honest apartment any day: at least dreams can be planted, down at rock-bottom, when you know that any direction is an improvement. Here they spent so much time polishing off false faces that only cynicism could survive.

He hadn’t. Survived, that is. I found his body in the bedroom, knife still protruding from under his ribs. Dainty red handprints were stamped over the scene, and no doubt on the handle of the weapon. I gripped the hilt carefully in a plastic wrap, tugging the knife free without adding my own prints. The body slumped further, but the knife came out. A lucky strike for an amateur; she’d killed him with her first thrust, and avoided bone.

My stature brings with it the odd inconvenience, but for this job it conferred an advantage: at four-feet-two, the slightest stoop let me stand below window level, hidden from suburbia. A search of the house revealed nothing of interest, but I’d expected nothing less. I grabbed a case from my car and returned inside.

I’m as strong as any full-scale man – a high protein diet and plenty of exercise see to that – but a body is a body, and they’re always fucking heavy. I don’t use the word lightly. Heavy, not fucking: I’ve got no qualms about cursing, at least, not in the face of death. Time and place and all that.

Lugging a body to a car trunk has a way of putting things into perspective. It’s a very odd perspective, admittedly, especially if the body is now in pieces, stuffed into cheap suitcases. That moment when the neighbour offers to help is worse, but thankfully it’s only happened once, and he didn’t smell a rat. Or a corpse, which was more of a concern at the time.

I cleaned the scene as best I could. Which is to say, I burnt it down. Technically, I suppose I started the fire, then got the hell out of Dodge before smoke appeared, but let’s not split hairs.

I burnt it down, and I took the body to an associate who could use it. We operate under a don’t ask, don’t tell policy.

Trunk bleached and the usual plates back on my car, I avoided her neighbourhood on my way back across town to my office.

She looked up from my desk as I walked in, those innocent eyes still red and swollen.

“I’ve got some bad news for you, Maryanne.”

“I don’t know how much more bad news I can take today, Mister Cassidy,” Her lips actually quivered at this, the poor innocent. “Is he, did he…”

“No, he’s gone. He won’t be coming back.”

“Oh, thank God!” She slumped over the desk, tension leaving her in a rush.

“It’s about your house. I’m afraid there’s been a rather nasty fire.”

The edge of her lip actually curled up in a brief smile. “Oh, that’s too bad. I hope nobody was hurt?”

“Not a soul. The house was empty at the time – or so I’ve heard, you’ll have to check with the fire department.”

“Oh, Mister Cassidy, you’ve been wonderful! How can I possibly thank you?”

My heart quickened: I’m only human.

I repressed my baser urges, and responded more calmly than I felt, “My usual fee is nine-hundred plus expenses, but I’ll bill you for seven.”

She opened her purse, and withdrew a cool thousand. “Take this as a bonus, I would have been lost without you.” She stood and turned to leave the office, childish innocence locked away behind a veneer of professionalism. I watched her legs as she walked to the door, and only distantly observed myself saying “Hmm.”

She turned, and raised one of those perfect eyebrows.

I heard myself continue, “I just realised, your house didn’t have a cellar.”

I don’t know where she had hidden the pistol, dressed up as she was. In retrospect, that should have been a warning sign – who kills their husband in self-defence, then gets dressed to the nines to visit the cleaner? Trust a man to be distracted by a pair of pretty pins.

I saw her finger tighten, felt the first bullet tug at the hand I automatically raised, its motion faster than my brain’s translation of the pain impulses.

I saw the flash of the muzzle, felt the second bullet thud home.

Saw the last few hours flash before my eyes.

There’s always time, I suppose, for regrets, but I once again found myself admiring that shapely face, those lovely legs, and thinking that this wasn’t such a bad way to go.


This piece was written for Nika Harper’s Wordplay #11. The challenge was a death scene, with the prompts “crossroads and dead-ends” and “the best-laid plans.”


“It’s not a mental illness. Well, fine, if you’re going to be all objective about it. It’s a mental illness. But it’s also part of who I am.

Do I wish I could change it? Sometimes, sure! I mean, it’s not great when it rears up and I have to wonder if I’m going to do something stupid, something final. But then, other times I seem to cope perfectly well. It’s pretty hard to ask for help, and the people who say it’s not a stigma aren’t the same people who assess my insurance premiums.

I mean, the rage can be hard to deal with, but that’s hardly the worst of it. Vivid flashes of anger, boiling up inside, until the steam finds an outlet and you just get immersed in the red mist, that can be draining, can help you to make a stupid choice or two. I might argue with a friend, cut someone off in traffic, yell at a waiter or start a fight. But stupid is better than dead, and the numbness is far, far worse.

I sometimes cut myself, not in an attempt to “feel something,” as the cliché goes, but simply to take action against the numbness.

I can think, when it comes. Sometimes, I can even think logically. I can hear and understand an argument, even an argument about my mental state. What I can’t do, is care about it. I don’t know why people seem to get off on nihilism these days, or pretend to, at least: it sucks.

When I’m numb, my mind can think, but gets stuck in loops. I sit in a friend’s seventh-floor apartment, and wonder how long it would take to hit the ground, over and over again. I wonder in the abstract, about the chances of survival, the technicalities of life as a paraplegic, the costs and repercussions. I wonder, in the abstract, about the people walking below, about the impact of my impact on their lives. I wonder, in the abstract, about how crazy this all seems, and watch myself as an observer, detached in every sense, as I walk towards the window. Locked, this time, and my friend is back in the room.

Half of my brain seems devoted to carrying on some semblance of normality, even on the worst of days. I’m aware that I’m chatting, smiling, pausing and laughing about a book, a movie or some friendly gossip. The smiles never reach my eyes.

A benefit of my state is an ability to do damn near anything. Fear is a symptom of health, and it’s eaten away bloody quickly by the numbness. I used to be terrified of heights. Now I find that hilarious. Abseiling? Skydiving? Count me in; I’m just one of the boys.

Each time I use a power tool, I detachedly speculate on worst-case scenarios. The skill-saw could easily lop off a finger or three. Would it hurt immediately, or would it be too much of a shock for my brain to process? I once had a nail-gun fire a tack through a rotted piece of ply, into my foot. The pain was instantaneous – a stepped-up version of a primary-school student stapling a finger for the first time. But was that immediacy caused by the wrongness of the foreign object trying to coexist with my foot, or the pain signals themselves? Would the removal of digits take longer for the brain to process than the addition of steel?

These thoughts can be distracting, and I’ve nearly lost a finger or two thinking them.

Shaving is a tiny pleasure each morning. Some fear must remain in me yet, because I daily achieve a sense of relief when I fail to over-reach with my safety razor, to let its tethered blades glide over the moist surface of my cornea, and watch curiously as a thin sliver lifts away in a delicate, translucent plane of tissue.

There are other, more positive pleasures, too.

Sex is one, whether alone or with a partner. Not any partner, but someone meaningful, a friend and confidante. Someone you can talk to, and who you don’t have to talk to. Sometimes, I think that’s what keeps me here – the knowledge that I’m loved by so damn many people, even in my most fucked up state. Other times, even that doesn’t matter.

Friends, family and partners have pulled me back from the brink far more times than they will ever know. On occasion, it’s been a random stranger. I recall waiting on a train platform, calculating the “best” time to step off the edge, when a middle-aged, blue-collar man smiled and said “good morning” to me.

The human safety net is amazing, when I consider it. Dozens of times I would have been gone, sending ripples through the lives of those around me, but for those same people and the bonds between us.

Like any safety net, though, I know it will eventually fail. No watchman can be eternally vigilant, and mine do not even know their role. It’s not something you can talk about. Not really. I’ve heard friends, caring and thoughtful people, talk about suicide. It’s selfish, seems to be consensus. It’s greedy and cowardly and fearful and wrong. And sometimes, I’d agree. Of course it ruins lives, how could anyone fail to see that? Of course it hurts everyone else.

And yes, it is the easy way out – I’ll never deny that. It’s an end to the endless spirals of happiness and sadness and loss and regret and pain and peace and pleasure and love. But it’s also an end to the numbness.

And the numbness is not easy to escape. You can cut yourself and elude it for a time, hiding in severed nerves and the grinding pulse of blood over their endings. You can fuck it away for a while, if you can somehow summon the drive. But whatever you do, it waits, timeless and consistent, and will get you in the end.

Suicide is an intensely personal thing, and I won’t claim to know anyone else’s mind. But, for me, it comes down to this: on a bad day, given the instantaneous opportunity, I would trade the world and all its beauty for an end to the numbness, without a thought.”


I wrote that some time ago, in my head, at least. For all its disjointed ideas and inconsistencies, or in them, I see the essence of an illness that I overcame the hard way, an illness that too many do not overcome at all.

I know the if only game can never be won, I know it all too keenly, so I won’t indulge in it now. Time was my healer, and love and luck: but luck, perhaps, most of all. While I struggled to overcome my own illness, the stereotypical bloke’s way – without drugs or formal help – I fell many times.

I was so fucking lucky that my safety net was there, ignorant as they were, and the only solution I can see is to make our safety nets ubiquitous, so nobody else has to die like she did.

So smile, damn you, at those strangers on the bus. Tip to your waitress – she puts up with all sorts of shit you don’t see, so you can have a decent lunch. Chat to the checkout operator, and answer honestly when someone asks how you are. Listen.

Talk. Talk, and talk openly. Tell your friends about your problems. No, not about the bloody jammed printer, the bad instant coffee or the aggressive boss: Tell them about your fears, your desires. Talk about mortality, about intimacy. Talk about your sadness, your dreams, your cynicism. Talk about your joy, but talk honestly and fully. Talk about loneliness. Talk about loss, and cry without shame on their shoulders.

And if you feel the brush of numbness, or despair, or memory, or whatever else your personal nemesis is, talk about that, too. Paint it in the most vivid colours possible. Highlight that motherfucker for everyone to see, to recognise. To overcome.


Assessor’s note

The above text was located in “D:\Documents\Personal\Journal” on the deceased’s private computer. The file location provides sufficient evidence of its autobiographical nature, and offers initial grounds to argue for an undisclosed mental illness.

Suspension of the life policy is warranted, pending review of the evidence by a psychologist.