When Mrs. Sillow received word of the successful coup de maître her daughter had pulled off, she was invigorated. For her, it felt as though a six-year prison term had just come to an end. At first she didn’t want to get too excited and believe that things were about to change as soon as her husband walked back in through the front door, but as of late, she had made it her duty to think nothing but positive thoughts; and as far as she was concerned, she was going to see the light of day again before she left this Earth and joined her mother in Heaven. (At least she was hoping to make it into Heaven with her life’s deplorable track record.) But with something promising now on the horizon, Mrs. Sillow would have to tread extra cautiously. If her husband was to find out that she and Sondra were in cahoots, the repercussions were sure to be unbearable for both of them. Needless to say, there was no way in hell Mrs. Sillow was going to screw up her chance of regaining freedom - even though she was well aware that that freedom would be both limited and monitored. Hence, in the midst of her and her daughter’s celebrating, she had the presence of mind to instantly bring herself back down to earth and instruct Sondra to head into her room until her father got back home.
As hard as she was trying to think positively, when her husband hadn’t made it back home after 30 minutes had gone by, Mrs. Sillow’s head began filling up with doubts. Her worst fear was that something tragic had happened to him and she and her daughter would be stuck inside of the cottage until they eventually died of starvation. However, those thoughts of distress were quickly snuffed out when she heard keys being pushed into the lock of the front door. The arrival of the pieces of wood seemingly served as a Christmas gift for Sondra, who excitedly came running out of her room to help her father set them in the fireplace. So far Mrs. Sillow’s ruse was coming together perfectly.
With bodily warmth came inexplicable rhapsody. The trio was now bunched together in front of the fireplace like one big, happy family. And true to his word, Mr. Sillow and his assistant got to work taking down the bars from over the windows inside of the cottage later on in the day. While doing so, Sondra continued campaigning to her father, appealing to him to look at situations with an open mind and becoming overly-emotional as she implored him to try and see things through the eyes of her jaded mother. The young girl’s exhortations worked yet again. Something clicked inside the whimsical mind of Mr. Sillow, making him more determined than ever to make a complete 360-degree turnaround for the sake of his daughter’s soundness of mind and overall happiness. And just like that, things inside of the Sillow household grew kosher. Literally overnight, differences between Mr. and Mrs. Sillow were being handled in a civilized and orderly manner; their sex life had been rekindled; and Mr. Sillow had made it possible for Sondra to openly interact with her mother for the first time since her birth. Taking full advantage of this unforeseen privilege, Mrs. Sillow did everything in her power to turn her and her daughter’s relationship into an unbreakable, rock-solid bond.
Being able to communicate with her child without retribution was the best thing that ever happened in the hag’s wretched life. Maybe there was something substantive to the late Mr. and Mrs. Toffer’s maxim to their daughter to “always keep faith alive” after all. But Mrs. Sillow was now faced with the challenge of having to restructure Sondra’s entire train of thought. She had major issues with everything that her husband had instilled in her daughter’s impressionable young mind, and there was no way she was going to allow her misinformed child to be caught off guard when she was introduced to the real world within a few months’ time. Knowing firsthand how it felt to be kept in the dark about life’s truths, Mrs. Sillow vanquished all of her inhibitions and started to come out with everything she felt was necessary for her daughter to know about the world in which she lived, amongst a slew of other touchy subjects.
“Sondra, when your father takes you out into the world in the next few months, don’t be surprised when you see other people walking around. Contrary to what you believe, we aren’t the only people on this planet. Just do your best to act as normal as you possibly can so that these other people - who are exactly like you and I - don’t think of you as strange.”
“So there are more of us here in the world!?” the flabbergasted, highly-inquisitive child asked, pointing at herself and her mother simultaneously with the pointer finger on either one of her hands.
“Lots more,” her mother confirmed.
“Ohhh, so that’s what daddy was talking about when he said that thing about ‘another human being’ while I was speaking with him in the bathroom the other morning.” All the pieces of a very complicated puzzle were starting to come together for Sondra.
“That’s exactly what he was talking about, darling,” her mother confirmed. “Another thing … you have a disability, Sondra. Your legs aren’t as straight as everyone else’s, and that makes you walk funny. Don’t get upset when people stare at you. They’re simply being curious. And if they ask you why your legs are that way, just tell them that you suffered a terrible accident as a baby, nothing more.” Mrs. Sillow then carried on trying to dissipate other falsities she had overheard her husband imbue into her little girl’s head over the past six years.
When the time finally came for Sondra to make her debut to the outside world, her mother’s only hope was that the lessons and oracles she had passed on to her daughter would stick, given the constrained amount of time with which she had to work. She nervously looked on from the front doorstep of the cottage with her overlapped hands pressed firmly against her bosom and a countenance of despondency limned upon her face as Sondra disappeared behind the forest’s semi-dense vegetation with her father.
Even though Mr. Sillow was more nervous about the embarkation than his wife was, his lack of expression made it impossible to tell. Heading back out amongst the people of Yarmouth after so many years had passed was a ginormous undertaking for a man who had made up his mind to never again step out amongst the town’s residents ever since they had turned on him. You see, Mr. Sillow had long ago transformed his family’s living quarters into a self-sufficient autonomy. When he had moved into the cottage following Mrs. Sillow’s slaying of her father, the first thing he had done was exploit the house’s electricity supply, a simple task for a man who had been an electrician for well over half of his life. Next, he doctored the house’s water supply. And when the telephone system came into existence, he found a way to illegally tap into that network as well, despite the fact that he and his wife had absolutely no need for the device. With meters at the home no longer moving, there was no reason for meter readers to continue coming around the cottage and no need for Mr. Sillow to have to disguise himself to head into town to pay the house’s bills. Whenever he and his wife were in Boston, he would stockpile on enough food while there to last them for months once they returned home. And after his wife had gotten pregnant with his child and he had slowed down on his visits to the capital, Mr. Sillow used his hunting prowess to survive off of the wildlife and natural vegetation that the forest surrounding the cottage provided. As far as residents of Yarmouth knew, Frederickstein and Amanda Sillow had vanished from the face of the Earth, thanks to Mr. Sillow’s ingenuity. But indeed they were both alive and well; and Mr. Sillow knew with conviction that his re-emergence amongst members of the community with another young girl was about to incite pandemonium. Yet still he had opted to leave himself naked. He had purposely chosen to venture out on foot instead of travelling by horse and carriage so that he could familiarize his daughter with the various types of plants, flowers, fruits, nuts, and wildlife they would be passing by as they made their way out of the woods. Sondra didn’t deserve to suffer anymore than she already had because of his past mistakes. He had made her a promise to introduce her to the world, and nothing was going to make him break his word.
“Daddy, what’s this? What are those? Ohhh, there’s something flying above me. Wow, everything I’m seeing is just so pretty.” Needless to say, the young girl was full of both questions and awe, and her father was having a hard time satiating her endless curiosity until she learned that those bunny rabbits she adored so much were what she was eating mostly every night for dinner. Immediately the girl was overcome by a spirit of dolefulness and went completely silent. Though he was disappointed that he had disaffected his daughter’s good nature, Mr. Sillow was grateful for the silence that coincided with her dejection. Now that he was able to think clearly without any interruptions, the realization that déjà vu was about to occur in just a matter of moments made him feel eerily uneasy; and his dread was for good reason. As the now-silent pair made their way closer to edge of the woods, Mr. Sillow suddenly froze in place. There was something drastically different about the area compared to the last time he had seen it some seven earlier. What he was seeing forced him to reconsider his promise to his daughter. His unusual behavior caused Sondra to break her silence. “What’s wrong, daddy?” she asked while vigorously shaking his hand that was holding hers. But her prodding had no affect whatsoever on her unstrung father. Soon afterwards, with his nerves getting the best of him, Mr. Sillow inadvertently began to squeeze down tighter and tighter on his bemused daughter’s tiny hand. It was only when she let out an earsplitting yelp of discomfort that he snapped out of his mysterious trance. Immediately he released his grasp on her hand and gestured to her to quiet down with a shaky finger that he struggled to keep centered over his lips. His main concern was that none of the residents inside of the homes which now occupied the immediate area of the point from which he used to make his exit from the woods had heard the little girl’s squall.
After purposely having gone into seclusion for so long, Mr. Sillow had inarguably been clueless about the major historical events that had drawn up the sociodemographic blueprint of present-day Yarmouth. Although America was in the thick of the Great Depression - which had started up several years well before his decision to permanently recede into the woods - Yarmouth’s residents hadn’t felt its pinch since much of the town’s monetary circulation didn’t revolve around the importation and exportation of commodities. Yarmouth was very much so self-sustaining, a feat that was rewarded with the issuance of regular governmental subsidies to a considerable number of the town’s employers in an effort to preserve the town’s independence. Naturally, the allure of the town’s prevailing economy appealed to individuals who had hit rock bottom and were in desperate need of work - any sort of work. Much of Yarmouth’s newest settlers within the last 10 years had happened to come across the haven by chance as they wandered hopelessly from state to state with all of their worldly belongings tied up inside of a bindle. As the years went by and more and more individuals trickled into the town, another significant occurrence brought a vast number of individuals into Yarmouth all at once. The attack on Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7th, 1941 by the Japanese brought about the advent of the U.S.’s participation in World War II. Having previously declared neutrality to combat between the war’s participants by virtue of the nation’s military non-interventionism policy, Japan’s surprise attack on the Hawaii-based naval base brought about swift congressional action that made retaliation against them possible. Immediately, mandatory jobs were created as persons were needed ‘round the clock to work in factories nationwide that were churning out airplanes, tanks, battleships, submarines, cargo vessels, and other war-related necessities in large quantities. Yarmouth fit into the war’s whole equation in that it was a major supplier of agricultural goods for the more than 10 million deployed military personnel. Tons upon tons of pounds of organic animal meat and bright-colored, indefectible crops that the town’s nutrient-rich soil brought forth provided meals for thousands of United States servicemen and -women around the globe. With the demand for food production at an all-time high, throngs of farmers simultaneously honed in on Yarmouth in the early 1940s in an effort to seize unoccupied plots of farmland, as high quality crop yields yielded lucrative returns. Pretty much every corner of Yarmouth was now blanketed with persons of every race, color, and religious denomination. What Mr. Sillow had stumbled upon that morning appeared to be a metropolis in comparison to the demure Yarmouth of years past. He had to abort his promise to his little girl. He would no longer be taking her directly into the community and showing her what life in society was like. It was just too big of a risk for him to take. His traipse through the woods had been in vain. However, Mr. Sillow did give his daughter the option to proceed further on her own and meet him back at the spot where he was currently standing once she had gotten through with her sightseeing and interactions. As the baffled child mulled over her father’s bizarre last set of words, she gave the endless row of homes situated in front of her a long, hard glare, tilted her head upwards and looked her father square in his unreadable eyes, then returned her attention back to the formidable row of strangers’ houses. Moments later she was endeavoring on to a noteworthy accomplishment in her life as her father proudly looked on from his elected waiting spot in the wilderness.