Chapter no 43

The Housemaid

The next eight months of my life are spent in Clearview Psychiatric Hospital.

The story, which has been repeated to me countless times, is that I took a bunch of sedatives that my physician prescribed to me and also gave my daughter some in her bottle. Then I placed her in the bathtub and turned on the water. My intention, apparently, was to kill both of us. Thank God my wonderful husband Andy suspected something was wrong and the police arrived in time to save us.

I have no memory of any of this. I have no memory of taking pills. I have no memory of putting Cecelia in the bathtub. I don’t even have a memory of my physician prescribing that medication for me, but the family doctor Andy and I go to assured us he did.

According to the therapist I see at Clearview, I suffer from major depression and delusions. The delusions are what led me to believe my husband was keeping me captive in a room for two days. The depression was what caused me to make the murder-suicide attempt.

At first, I didn’t believe it. My memories of being up in the attic are so vivid, I could almost feel the sting on my scalp from the hairs I pulled out. But Dr. Barringer keeps

explaining to me that when you’re having delusions, it can feel very real even when it’s not.

So now I’m on two medications to keep this from happening ever again. An anti-psychotic and an antidepressant. When I have my sessions with Dr. Barringer, I own up to my part in what I did. Even though I still don’t remember it at all. I only remember waking up and finding Cecelia in the bathtub.

But I must’ve done it. There was no one else there.

The part that finally convinced me I’d done it myself is that Andy could never have done something like that to me. Since the day I met him, he has been nothing but wonderful. And through my entire stay at Clearview, he has visited me every chance he could get. The staff love him. He brings muffins and cookies for the nurses. And he always saves one for me.

Today he brought me a blueberry muffin. He knocks on the door of the private room at Clearview, an expensive facility for people with psychiatric issues who also have money. He’s come straight from work, and he’s wearing a suit and tie, and he looks achingly handsome.

When I first came here, I was locked in the room. But I’ve done so much better with the medication that they’ve given me the privilege of an unlocked room. Andy perches at the other end of my bed while I stuff the muffin into my mouth. The anti-psychotic has ramped up my appetite, and I’ve put on twenty pounds since I’ve been here.

“Are you ready to come home next week?” he asks.

I nod, wiping blueberry crumbs from my lips. “I… I think so.”

He reaches for my hand, and I flinch but manage not to pull away. When I first came here, I couldn’t bear for him to touch me. But I’ve managed to push my feelings of revulsion aside. Andy didn’t do anything to me. It was my screwed-up brain that imagined it all.

But it felt so real.

“How is Cecelia doing?” I ask.

“She’s doing great.” He squeezes my hand. “She’s so excited you’re coming home.”

I would have thought she might forget me while I was in here, but she never forgets. I wasn’t allowed to see her for the first several months I was here, but when Andy finally brought her to me, the two of us clung to each other, and when visiting hours ended, she wailed her head off until my heart broke in two.

I’ve got to get home. I’ve got to get back to my life the way it was. Andy has been so great about everything. He took on more than he bargained for with me.

“So I’m going to pick you up at noon on Sunday,” he says. “And then I’ll drive you home. My mother will stay with Cece.”

“Great,” I say.

As much as I’m excited about coming home and seeing my daughter, the thought of returning to that house gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I’m not looking forward to setting foot back there. Especially in the attic.

I’m never going up there again.

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