How could He be so unfair, bringing this sorrow into our lives once more? Wasn’t losing our first-born hard enough?
Polly sat next to the child’s bed, wiping her brow. “Cindy, won’t you eat just a little for Mama?”
Cindy shook her head weakly. “I just can’t, Mama… I’ll throw it up. You know I will.”
Polly threw a look of despair my way before turning back to the child. “It’s okay, sugar,” she said, setting the soup bowl on the nightstand. She pulled the comforter close to Cindy’s chin and kissed her forehead. “We’ll try the soup later.”
Rising from Cindy’s bedside, she followed me out of the room. She closed the door and collapsed in my arms. “Fred, how can this be happening again? I don’t think I can get through it…”
Holding her tight, I breathed in the sweet scent of her hair. “Baby, you’re worn out. Why don’t you let me get one of the churchwomen in to help?”
“No,” she whispered, “Cindy’s my baby… I’ll be the one to tend her. She needs her mama…”
The doorbell rang and Polly moved away.
“Wonder who that is?” she asked, smoothing back her hair. “Can you get the door, Fred? I’m going to see if I can tempt Cindy with a chocolate muffin.”
“She says she can’t eat, Polly; she’s just gonna throw it back up.”
Stricken, Polly stared at me. “She’s gotta eat something! How’s she gonna keep up her strength if she don’t eat?”
I had no answers and bitterness washed through me.
Where was God in all this?
I wiped away Polly’s tears. “Okay, baby… you try to get her to eat. Maybe she’ll keep it down this time.”
I answered the door, surprised to find Isabel Perkins standing there – and with her, Sheriff Barton.
“Evening, Isabel, Sheriff – something I can do for you?”
That’s when Mrs. Perkins began to tell me about the monsters in Schuyler Falls.
I dismissed her tale as the ranting of an old woman who’d spent too many lonely hours with only her dog for company.
“Won’t hurt to take a look now, will it, Fred?” asked the Sheriff, his eyes sharp. “Might put this lady’s fears to rest. How about it?”
I stared at him, confused.
“C’mon, Fred,” said the Sheriff. “Let’s take a look upstairs.”
I miss my wife.
Despite everything, I still love her.
We found her upstairs, standing in her secret place, injecting a syringe full of Drano into a chocolate muffin.
Now I think of my first girl’s death and the signs I missed – signs the whole damned town missed! I get to questioning how the Good Lord let this happen.
Makes no sense.
And that talk about monsters? I lived with one for years and never knew it. Took an old woman’s nightmares to open my eyes – and save my child’s life.
I don’t know…
I guess what the Bible says is true: the Lord moves in mysterious ways.
Word count: 525
Author’s Note: This is the fourth and final story in a story arc about Polly Andrews, ‘the good mother.’ If you’d like to read the entire arc, the stories, in order, are: The Good Mother, Monsters Under the Bed and Signs.
This story is written in response to a challenge to write a flash fiction story in which the narrator finds something hidden in the family home. In Fred’s case, he found out there was a monster hidden inside his wife. The challenge is sponsored by ThainInVain and can be found here.