The amount of time that Sondra had been spending at her mother and father’s place over the years since moving in with Pecks had grown so infrequent that she sometimes had great difficulty locating her parents’ cottage whenever she would decide to make one of her rare trips to see her mother. She had completely cut her father off after hearing those hard-to-swallow tales about him. Even though most of the things that she had heard about her once-doting father sounded a bit too unbelievable, Sondra couldn’t deny that there were some elements of truth to the urban legend. For instance, there was that big, ostentatious midnight blue buggy with the gold bulbs on top of it that never moved from the back of their cottage. According to the urban legend, that was the same buggy that police officials were trying to locate for investigative purposes after it was alleged that Mr. Sillow had been carrying around his first wife’s dead body inside of it. Of course Sondra had no way of knowing for sure whether or not her father had actually killed his first wife, but she definitely did find his refusal to use that blue buggy to be a little fishy. Also, according to the legend, Amanda was still somewhere in Yarmouth, alive and well; and wherever she resided, it was said that Mr. Sillow resided there as well. Lo and behold, Sondra was presently on her way to the much-speculated-about couple’s dwelling. There were simply too many parts of this perturbing urban legend that was making perfect sense to her. She had resisted the urge to bring the matter up to her mother for years. Now older and wiser and seriously interested in the history of her parents, she could no longer ignore her desperate need for answers.
Today the 13-year-old girl was heading home to have a frank one-on-one conversation with her mother. With so many questions floating around in her head, she was hoping that Mrs. Sillow would be straight to the point with her responses. She didn’t want her mother withholding any information from her or covering up for her father just because she was so afraid of her own husband. She was more than prepared to hear the brutally honest truth; and if she wasn’t satisfied with the answers that came out of her mother’s mouth, she wouldn’t have a problem with cutting her off as well.
Based on what Sondra was hearing - or rather what she wasn’t hearing - as she pressed an ear up against the front door of her parents’ home, all was quiet inside of the house. Maybe her mother and father had learned to get along since she had moved out. Or maybe even better yet, her father had passed away. The last time that Sondra had been to the cottage to pay a visit to her mother, he appeared as though he would be taking his last breath at any moment. He was creepily standing in the corner of the living room as she sat conversing with her mother on the living room’s rustic, neutral-colored settee, perhaps wondering why his daughter wasn’t paying him any mind. His eerie, sickly features, combined with his death-like stare and his refusal to express what was on his mind, was too much for Sondra to put up with. She ended up leaving the house almost as quickly as she got there. As she slowly turned the knob to enter the house today, she was earnestly hoping that he would be confined to his bed as a result of his ailment. Once she had opened the door to a certain point, she stuck her head inside the house to scope out the scene. As her head swiveled around the living room, she noticed her mother sitting in her usual spot on that smelly, heavily soiled, old beige settee. There was a frantic expression on her mother’s face as she sat with her arms fully extended out in front of her and her palms opened wide, a signal for her daughter to stop pushing on the door. When Sondra did stop, Mrs. Sillow turned her attention down the hallway momentarily. When nothing out of the ordinary happened, she placed her focus back on her daughter. Placing one of her pointer fingers over her mouth, she gestured to Sondra with her other hand to proceed with entering the house. Carefully, Sondra pushed the door open just a little bit wider instead of all the way open to prevent the door’s rusty hinges from creaking more than they needed to and slipped her slender body inside of the house through the small opening. Without closing the door behind her in order to make her exit from the house less clamorous, Sondra joined her mother on the settee. Before either of them had a chance to say a word, Mrs. Sillow grabbed on to her daughter and hugged her tightly. She had truly missed Sondra’s company around the house. But the love wasn’t reciprocated. Angered about how her mother had never shared the truth about her past with her, Sondra disrespectfully pushed her mother off of her. Not that it was any of her business, or anything, but Sondra would have at least felt better knowing the reason behind why her mother always acted so strange as she was growing up. In the heat of the moment, she began to think that it was no longer necessary to even ask her mother the questions that had come to get cleared up. She could pretty much piece everything together. Sondra had already come to a conclusion in her head as to why her mother never left the house and why she was so afraid of her husband, but she really wanted to hear the answers directly from the horse’s mouth.
“We need to talk,” Sondra said sharply, seemingly forgetting that her mother had gestured to her to be as quiet as she possibly could just a few seconds ago. Once again Mrs. Sillow implored the child to keep the noise level down, but the anger and frustration that had been building up inside of Sondra over the years wouldn’t allow for her to be quieted simply because her mother was too chicken to stand her ground against her tyrannical husband. “Then, we’re just going to have to carry this conversation outside,” Sondra stated, the decibel level of her voice still unchecked.
Certain that her daughter’s defiance would end up waking her husband up from his sleep, Mrs. Sillow quickly hopped up off of the settee and waltzed her way outside, with her livid daugther following closely on her tail. Sondra’s poor attitude had transferred over to Mrs. Sillow, who ranted: “We haven’t seen each other in forever, and this is how you greet your dear old mother? I try to hug you, and you push me away; I ask you to keep the noise down, yet you only get louder. Shame on you, young lady. That tells me a lot about the poor caliber of people you’ve associated yourself with since leaving this house. It pains my heart as a mother to see my daughter’s life heading down such a treacherous path. Anyway, what the hell is it that you want?”
“It ain’t like your life is or was any better than mine. Your past is so shameful, it’s no wonder you never told me about it. And by the way, you have no idea how kind and wonderful that family that accepted me as one of their own is. Don’t speak about them if you don’t know them.
“But I really didn’t come here to argue with you. I only came here today to let you know that I know the real story behind your life, mama. I feel like you should have told me certain things about yourself without me having to confront you like this. Now, if it was anybody else, I wouldn’t have cared about their plight; but you’re my mother. I came from you. And, in all honesty, I do care about you very much. But why doesn’t daddy care about you? Why did he steal your childhood away from you?”
The first thought that came to Mrs. Sillow’s mind was to tell her daughter a lie, but Sondra was no longer that naïve little six-year-old girl who would be quick to believe whatever was thrown at her. Moreover, the way that she had said what she had to say was too concise and devoid of uncertainty. Mrs. Sillow knew that she had no other alternative but to come clean. “Your father’s twisted,” she replied softly, while breaking eye contact with her sagacious daughter. “He’s always only cared about his wants and needs. You used to live here; you know that. When he came into my life, Sondra, I was young, innocent, and naïve. He selfishly snatched my future away from me with a few very manipulative and persuasive sentences. He’s continued his manipulation tactics straight through our relationship. For years that man made me feel as though I loved him when I really didn’t. Some of the things that I’ve done for him, I can never forgive myself for. I got caught in a web that I just couldn’t escape from. What’s worse, it feels as though I’m gonna be stuck inside of this web of disaster and misery for an eternity.”
To hear her mother be so open with her and not stray off topic made Sondra break down in tears. The only thing that Sondra wanted at that point was for her mother to be brave enough to remove herself from her current situation.
“Mother, you really don’t have to be in this predicament, you know,” Sondra counseled. “Sure daddy made life extremely hard on you. When he met you, you didn’t know any better. But you’re a grown ass woman now. You don’t have to put up with his crap any longer.”
“Where on Earth am I going to go? Who can I turn to?” Mrs. Sillow questioned, befuddled. I have nobody, my dear child.”
“But you’ve gat me,” Sondra said with assurance to her insecure mother, simultaneously extending her hand out for her mother to take a hold of it. “Come on, let’s get out of here. From this day on, I promise you that all of your worries and woes are over.” Mrs. Sillow stood motionless; staring intently at her daughter’s outstretched hand of salvation. Sondra’s proposal was one of the most tantalizing offers that had ever come her way in her entire life. Immediately, thoughts of a new life began to flash through her mind. She thought about being able to wake up without a punch or a kick or a glob of spit to the face on a daily basis. She thought about what it would be like to not be forced to clean, cook, or to have sex. She thought about never being hit again in her life. She thought about interacting with other persons besides her degrading and demeaning husband. She thought about exploring a community that she was certain had drastically changed since she had last walked through it as a child. She thought about revisiting the spots where her mother and father had been buried. She thought about doing all of the things that she had never gotten the chance to do after falling into the clasp of her lover.
All of the thoughts running through Mrs. Sillow’s mind had caused her to completely disconnect from reality. As Sondra glared into her mother’s face, she could tell that she wanted to leave with her. Mrs. Sillow’s eyes, which contained a look of unadulterated exuberance, were fixated on the trees of the forest. It was as though she was trying to mentally envision what was beyond them. Sondra could tell that her mother wasn’t going to be snapping out of her trance anytime soon, so she had to coax her out of her spell. Quickly reaching out and grabbing her mother’s hand, Sondra attempted to pull her mother away from the cottage by force. As though she had anticipated being tugged, Mrs. Sillow’s feet remained planted firmly on the doorstep.
“Why are you resisting, mother?” Sondra eventually asked after her repeated efforts to get Mrs. Sillow to budge had failed. “I can see how bad you want to get away from here.”
“I do, but I’m afraid that someone out there is going to recognize me.”
“Nobody is going to recognize you, mother. The last time you were spotted, you were a teenager. You look so much different now. Come on, let’s go,” Sondra insisted, still tugging sharply on her mother’s hand.
“I really need some time to think about this, Sondra,” Mrs. Sillow said while prying her hand loose of her daughter’s vicelike grip. “I’m sorry. But you ought to get going now, my child. I must have dinner prepared by the time my husband wakes up.”
“Mom, if I go, I promise you that you won’t be seeing me for a very, very long time. You know what, I won’t be returning at all, for that matter.” Sondra was trying to remain as calm and composed as she possibly could, but her frustration couldn’t be hidden. Her unhappiness was written all over her face.
“I’ll just have to hope that you change your mind and return to see your dear old mother. Goodbye for now, my child.” But just in case Sondra was indeed serious about not ever returning to the cottage, Mrs. Sillow gave her the telephone number to the house before stepping back inside and shutting the door in her face.
“I thought you loved me,” were the last set of words that Mrs. Sillow heard just before everything in her world went completely black.