Chapter 14

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I stayed at the house with Mary and Frank for a few weeks. I was so tired and I was frightened most of the time, horribly so at night. I found I couldn't sleep. I wanted so much to remember some of the time I'd lost in the period surrounding the electric shock treatment. I did remember some of it, but it never surfaced as a complete memory. I remembered my one visit, maybe it was two days before the treatment. That was when Tom and Mary came to the asylum. Seeing them in the reception area. How we all walked through the grounds, but the events just before, during and a day after the shock treatment turned black in my thoughts if I tried to summons them.

One evening I woke and it was late at night. The sky was the blue, black. I sat up in bed and looked out the windows towards the orchard. Everything was a velvety darkness, but still I could see silhouettes of the branches well beyond the window, they looked darker than the night. Something about the scene reminded me of the hospital, bars on the windows and the muted liquid black opening to the grounds. That night, the memory didn't fully form; nonetheless, it caused me to gasp for air. I had the sensation that my body was being held down. I reached for my wrists, but even free as they were, as I lay safe in my bedroom at Mary and Frank's house, I could feel a strap tightening. I couldn't breathe and I wanted to run to Mary and ask her to help me. I was paralyzed. I was mute. I felt I could hear the droning of all of the women who remained locked away. Not their faces, but the sound. It was all those women haunting me. The ones who would never leave. Their hell was rising up around me. The painful moans and cries. For a moment, the human din would stop and I would get up, put on my robe and walk across the hallway to Charlie's room. I would bend over his crib and make sure he was breathing. I'd tiptoe back to the room only to return to him again and again. Each time I ventured across the hallway, I was frightened of the floor beneath my feet, as if snakes were wrapping around my ankles. It was like that almost every night. I'd wait for dawn to begin to illuminate daytime. Then, I'd fall into a half sleep until Mary would come and check on me.

Frank never pressured me but convinced me several times to go over to my house in the daytime and look at the things he'd fixed up and built there. The pergola was finished and the grapes had grown a little, maybe three feet. It would take a couple of years for them to reach the wooden slatted top, and maybe another for the grapes and leaves to fill in the spaces. It was hard to even take the short drive to my house, to walk in the yard. I knew Frank wanted to spark my enthusiasm, but I was too tired. I wanted nothing.

I found that I was tired most of the time and only wanted some tea and toast on most days. Mary would come sit with me while Charlie was napping. I think she meant for it to be just like it had been before the baby was born. Back when I'd rest in bed and Mary would pull up the rocker. She did this after I was released from the hospital too. But, I felt she was trying to figure out what to do. She'd follow my expressions as I watched the wind move the branches through the window. There was really nothing to think about. I was mostly dead. Fall was beautiful and she urged me to walk with her and Charlie to the gardens I'd plotted out; the one I had promised for her or the one I had started at my own house. I told her I didn't want to, that she should take Charlie by herself.

I was much worse than after Nick died. A constant dull ache that seemed like something I should have been able to push aside and overcome. At moments, it seemed as if it wasn't really that bad at all which made it worse when it returned. It was a weight, a heavy sadness that dominated every thought, feeling or action. It was terrible to admit to myself, but I even felt that way towards Charlie. When I'd sit with him he'd smile and let out a short yell. He'd wait, his pause an invitation to one of his games. He'd run from me giggling but I would just sit on the sofa my eyes focused on the falling leaves out the window. Often when I was lost in thought and then turned back to him, he was standing beside me or trying to climb on me. He'd pull on me and I couldn't respond to him. His brows would furrow and he'd grimace. He'd start crying and run away, screaming "gamma" for Mary to come and pick him up. She'd rush in and I would watch her, pick him up and bounce him up and down and he'd start playing back and forth games with her. "Mine" he'd say as he reached for something on the counter. "No! No! you little rascal!" and he'd break out in peals of laughter. Frank would chase him around the house and Charlie would pretend to hide. Impish and silly, really believing Frank couldn't see him right there next to the fireplace.

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