Papers and leaves were snatched by the gusty autumn wind and scattered about the street like so many pieces of flotsam and jetsam. It was getting dark and Frederick knew he had to find his wife Helene before something bad happened, before she hurt herself – or worse. Helene had been terribly distraught this morning – more so than usual and judging by the quantity of bourbon missing from the bottle, she was also probably quite drunk. Another horrible fight with his mother, Frederick assumed.
Shoving his hands into his coat pockets, Frederick hunched his shoulders against the cold harsh wind. As he searched the streets for Helene his mind began to wander back to a time years ago when things were better, back to when Helene was whole. How happy they had been, just the two of them so in love. They bought a cute brownstone soon after getting married, living there blissfully by themselves, making plans for the future.
When Helene learned she was pregnant they were ecstatic; she even began knitting a baby blanket. Then the miscarriage happened, followed by three more. Four babies lost and a multitude of dreams crumbled and forgotten. Helene had to have a hysterectomy and fell into a depression. No babies ever for the young couple – only the two of them alone in a sad empty house. Frederick urged Helene to consider adoption, but she refused and her depression deepened. How could one woman bear a sorrow so heavy?
A few months later Frederick’s father committed suicide, due in no small part to his mother’s constant badgering and belittling. Not wanting his mother to be alone and despite Helene’s protests, Frederick moved her in with them. He thought his mother and Helene might provide some companionship for each other but the two women soon began arguing bitterly. Helene could do nothing right in Frederick’s mother’s eyes. She even went so far as to flaunt Helene’s inability to have a baby, goading her on by calling her a dried up empty vessel, a disappointing failure.
As Frederick walked rapidly through the the streets he thought about what had happened earlier. Arriving home from work he found the front door wide open and the house in disarray. Dishes were shattered on the kitchen floor. The phonograph had been knocked over, his mother’s favorite record in smithereens. Frederick called out but no one answered. He ran through the house, stopping at the entrance to his mother’s room; the television was on and she was asleep, curled up in her bed. Helene’s coat and purse were hanging in the front closet but she was nowhere in sight.
Suddenly Frederick snapped back to reality as he spied Helene at the train station standing perilously close to the edge of the platform. Cautiously he walked toward her and whispered her name. Helene whirled around and Frederick was shocked to see the crazed look in her eyes and the marks on her face. Helene tried to run but Frederick caught her, cradling her in his arms as they walked home.
When they reached the house Helene began giggling like a little girl and told Frederick she had something special to show him. Bewildered, he followed her to his mother’s room. Helene tip-toed to the bed and threw back the covers, revealing his mother’s bloody body, knitting needles jutting from her neck. Frederick recoiled in horror as Helene began stabbing him repeatedly while screaming maniacally “This is all your fault! You brought her here!! THIS! IS! ALL! YOUR!! FAULT!!!”
Frederick collapsed to the floor. The last thing he saw was Helene plunging out the bedroom window.
NAR © 2019