"Night, I decided, was the worst time in this place, for I heard sobs and screams, too. Rarely did anyone come to comfort those who suffered. I tried to shut my ears to the noise but it was impossible.
There was one woman near me, who just wept. I crept out of bed to see if she was alright. I whispered to her. I was afraid to reach over and offer a comforting hand for fear as to what she might do. But I did ask her if I could help. There was no answer. Not even a word.
As I walked back to my bed, another called me over. “There’s nothing you can do for her, no one knows why she cries, not even the staff. They don’t even know her name. They just found her that’s all, found her near dead outside. Someone nearly killed her. Best go back to bed now, ‘fore they see you up.”
That was all she said before she turned over. This was an awakening for me. I wasn’t the only person to have suffered hell on earth. I lay back and thought about what I had heard. And between my thoughts and the occasional scream and sob, I was serenaded until sleep finally came.
An attendant woke us all with a bell. “Time to get up. Breakfast now. Time to get up!”
No one grumbled or said anything. The faces looked as they usually looked, blank for the most part, sometimes sad. It varied. The unknown woman was just rising when another attendant yanked her out of bed and began hollering.
I nearly called out but was advised against it by one of the other inmates. “You can’t do nothing. Best not to try.”
My first Monday at Marsh. There were buckets of water so that we could wash. After which we had to put on the same shift again. Then we were marched two abreast, toward the dining room to get our meal. We weren’t supposed to talk, although many did. Some spoke gibberish and others in half sentences no one understood.
I decided those that inhabited a far-off world, were better off than those like myself who had most of our wits about us. It was one of my first lessons. The lesson of Marsh.
Breakfast was potage and watery tea. I just stared at mine until an arm reached out and took both the potage and the tea away. When I glanced after it, one of the women shook her head. “If you don’t take it quickly that’s what happens. Serves you right love, this ain’t Buckingham palace.”
There was a ripple of laughter after that, although I think in retrospect few understood what they were laughing at.
*“Yes, of course, any information you can give me is of great importance.”
Monday morning found me staring at Dr. Bannion’s ink bottles trying to summon up the courage so I could go on.
“Please Rose, it is good to tell me these things. You are brave and I admire you, do go on. What kinds of fairy tales were they?”
“They were different than those my mother told me. These were about monsters and demons…you see Father was so different after his stroke, so very changed.”
He admonished me gently for not having told him of this before. I said I was sorry and went on. “They were dark stories filled with violent deaths and sometimes even things children were not meant to know about…”
“What kinds of things?”
“Just things that were upsetting about ladies and gentlemen.”
“Dr. Bannion, please…”
“But you must give me an idea, Rose.”
“He told me things they did to one another, vile disgusting things! Things he did to me…” I broke down then. There I was, a sobbing mess with Dr. Bannion shaking his head.
I felt I knew what he was thinking—he was thinking of my father and the effect that recent assault must have had on me. He told me to rest and get my breath back, which I did.
“They are terrible things you have locked away in your mind, best let them out and they will go away.”
He was studying me carefully. “And there was violence, too. Your mother you say suffered as well as your siblings?”
“But that is all?”
We both knew what he meant by that. “Yes,” I replied. “I am certain of that.” My mind began to wander, or not to wander really but to fix itself upon a thought I had had.
“Rose, you look far away, what is it, can you tell me?”
“Dr. Bannion, do you believe people can invite evil in?”
Every drop of blood appeared to have drained out of his face. I watched him put the pen down.
Now I began to worry that I really sounded insane, but he started speaking just then, “Let us be clear, Rose. When you say, ‘let evil in’, what exactly do you mean?”
“Well, I mean he changed so much and as I was a child, I hadn’t connected his actions with other things…”
“Like what other things?”
This was difficult. “I don’t know. Our home seemed to have changed when he did.”
“You mean his actions caused things to be different.”
“No, Dr. Bannion. I think I mean more than that. I mean, truthfully I had forgotten about this for the longest time. But now, what I mean is, I remember clearly feeling the house was different. We were all unhappy, yes—and suffering too—but there was something else. Something dark had come to dwell amongst us.”
Dr. Bannion stared at me. It was difficult to say what he was thinking. “Did anything happen then?”
“No, it was more like a feeling of dread that came upon me. I asked my mother if she felt it too, and she told me—I was a child you understand—not to worry about such things. And that’s when the fairy tales started.” Suddenly I paused:.“Dr. Bannion, now that I am an adult it seems to me that he was using those fairy tales to accomplish something evil.”
He didn’t reply for the longest time. He looked quite thoughtful, then he said, “Sometimes bad things happen to nice people through no fault of their own. Sadly, it is what happened to all of you, including your father.”
(end of excerpt)
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