Colleen has a Master’s degree in English Literature and is an author of stories and articles focusing on the dynamics of human relationships
While no-one can know the thoughts of Myra Hindley as her own death became imminent, she appeared to have felt deep guilt and regret for her part in what has come to be called “The Moors Murders”.
Still, those tears she shed during her final interviews, and perhaps in the privacy of her cell, could never begin to erase the emotional carnage brought about by these crimes.
In this story of under 1000 words titled “Broken Biscuits” Myra Hindley reflects on the past.
The Story: Broken Biscuits
The only glow in this cell is sparked by the flame from my cigarette.
Outside, there are bound to be fireworks soon - hoots of delight at the start of the coming millennium. Nearly all the other women on my cell block have gone to the common room to gorge on whatever cakes and sweets they have bought from the canteen or cadged from correspondents and visitors.
They will guzzle “prison wine”, made from rotted fruit and yeast pilfered from the bakery. The guards will either have been paid not to see, or are showing some scrap of humanity.
For my part, I like the comparative peace of my cell. I don’t need sweets, don’t want biscuits and least of all any wine. Thinking back, there was far too much wine during those first months with Ian Brady.
He would swallow caffeine tablets throughout the day, then soak up alcohol in the evening. I did sometimes wonder why, since he was not ill in any way, he would take tablets. Still, with everything he said or did, I rarely dared query.
The Onset of Menace
It was often well into the second bottle that he would start to chat about murder. The word “chat” seems peculiar I know. Still, in all truth, that was how it struck me. In hindsight, I think Ian mapped it that way in order to blur my threshold between mere talk and reality.
He referred to the killing of one human being by another as the ultimate power. Then, he might add that since every living creature must die, to kill was merely to expedite nature’s intent. Still, he was gentle with animals, nurtured plants, even treated stones with some reverence. By the time I knew he intended to kill, I had become subjugated.
The clock on my cell wall says 11-30 pm. I don’t bother to wear a watch anymore-time here is whatever the prison decides. At first, after my arrest time lost all meaning; each day felt like a tunnel I would need to slog through. Early on, in Durham jail, I tried to die by suicide. The guards stopped me. At that time I felt enraged by what seemed like their meddling, forcing me to stay alive just for sport.
Now I am glad, grateful even. How so? I hope to live out my last years in freedom. My pleas to parole boards have been rebuffed. Still, having gone back to the faith of my growing years, I have found inner sustenance. The prison Chaplain has assured me that if I am honestly sorry for all I did, God will forgive me.
If God can, why not society too? While far from young, I am not yet sixty. I might still live out my final years in freedom. Still, I can never escape being viewed by so many as the media dubbed me back then, “Myra Hindley the most evil woman in Britain”. Yet, none of us are born evil.
Born in Manchester, I cannot recollect much about my early years. I must have been bright enough, since I was always in the A stream. Still, I seldom went to school. Why bother when there was no-one at home to notice or nag me? At fifteen I left school. Forced to take whatever work was on offer. After a first job with no joy, I became a typist at a sales firm.
By then, at nineteen, having dated my share, I had become engaged to a local lad, Ronnie Sinclair. He and I got on, quite fancied each other. We would have married, had kids I've no doubt, but before that could happen, I met Ian Brady. He was one of the salesmen who dictated letters to me.
Having learned from my office mates that he had no wife, fiancée or girlfriend, his aloofness intrigued me. I ended things with Ronnie Sinclair, my only reason being that I had become consumed by my thoughts of Ian.
The Plan Accelerates
At last, Ian did ask me out. After we’d dated awhile, he brought me to the Saddleworth Moor. It was there he began to talk of murder in such a way that I knew he was serious. Viewing my horror at such a thought, he vowed I need not be involved in any actual violence. My role would be to coax children into our car.
Together, Ian and I wove a number of pretexts: giving a child a lift home before dark, help needed in finding a costly glove lost somewhere on the moors, large boxes we needed help carrying into our home.
Together we killed five children, between July 1963 and October 1965.
The Anguish of Recollection
Details on those killings can only cause pain, both to me in recalling, and to anyone reading this. Still, I will say the memory which hurts me the most, is that of a lad, twelve years old, who had stopped to buy a bag of broken biscuits.
We killed him.
I wish I could find some reason; I can’t. Brady and I broke young lives near their roots. As to why he initiated those killings, or more to the point, why I took any part, I can offer no answer.
Arrival of The New Millennium
Now, from the common room outside my cell, I hear a wild shout of joy, on this first minute after midnight. Can those trapped, lost women hold any real hope this new millennium will bring them any genuine change?
Still, I do understand their bravado- cling onto it myself, in a way. In order to keep that torment at bay, ever eager to make us wither inside, we must keep some spark alive, even if it is as meagre as the flame from my freshly-lit cigarette, my last one, which somehow, for no reason I can give voice to, I have saved to savour.
© 2017 Colleen Swan