Mother was never judgmental. She didn’t rave,
like Father did. Once Elizabeth had left, however,
she positively snarled at me. It was ridiculous,
she shouted. Utter madness and folly. I’d never
seen Mother so riled. Margaret clearly agreed
with her. Elizabeth was abusing my soft-hearted
kindness. Once Elizabeth had done with me, I’d
be disposed of like useless trash. Mother’s images
were lurid. Her blood was boiling over. I wondered
if she’d snatch me away from this bedlam and
drive me home through the night. Fortunately no
such thing happened. We prepared for bed like
decent human beings. Mother even pecked my
cheek goodnight, it surprised me. I knew Mother
was right. Deep in my heart I realized Elizabeth
was using me. Perversely, however, I wanted this.
The staircase creaked as I ascended to my room.
I cast myself onto the bed, and prayed that sleep
would swamp me.

Author: Robert James Berry

Poet & Novelist