Chapter no 59 – NINA

The Housemaid

“Oh God,” I whisper.

The light is on in the attic, like I thought. Those two lightbulbs are flickering on the ceiling. The bulbs need to be changed, but there’s enough light to see Andy.

What used to be Andy, that is.

For a solid sixty seconds, all I can do is stare. Then I lean forward and retch. Good thing I was too nervous to eat any breakfast this morning.

“Hello, Nina.”

I nearly have a heart attack at the sound of the voice coming from behind me. I was so sickened by the sight in front of me, I didn’t even hear the footsteps on the stairs to the attic. I whirl around and there she is. Millie. Holding up a bottle of pepper spray, pointed at my face.

“Millie,” I gasp.

Her hands are shaking and her face is very pale. It’s like looking into a mirror. But her eyes are filled with fire.

“Put the pepper spray down,” I say as calmly as I can. She doesn’t comply. “I’m not going to hurt you—I promise.” I glance over at the body on the floor then back at Millie. “How long has he been here?”

“Five days?” Her voice has a blank quality. “Six? I’ve lost count.”

“He’s dead.” I say it as a statement, but it comes out more like a question. “How long has he been dead?”

Millie keeps the pepper spray trained on me and I’m scared to make any quick movements. I know what this girl is capable of. “Do you think he’s definitely dead?” she asks.

“I can check? If you want?” She hesitates, then nods.

I make slow movements because I don’t want to get sprayed—I know all too well what it’s like to get doused with pepper spray. I bend down beside my husband’s body on the floor. He does not look alive. His eyes are cracked open, his cheeks are sunken, and his lips are parted. His chest isn’t moving. But the worst part is all the dried blood around his mouth and on his white shirt. His lips are parted and several of his teeth are gone. I suppress the urge to gag.

Even so, when I reach out to check his pulse on his neck, I expect him to grab my wrist. But he doesn’t. He is completely still. When I press on his pulse, I feel nothing.

“He’s gone,” I say.

Millie stares at me a moment, then lowers the pepper spray. She sinks onto the cot and buries her face in her hands. It’s like she’s just realized the enormity of what’s happened. What she’s done. “Oh God. Oh no…”


“You know what this means.” She lifts her bloodshot eyes to look at me. The rage is gone and all that’s left is fear. “That’s it. I’m going back to prison for the rest of my life.”

Tears run down her cheeks and her shoulders shake silently—it’s the same way Cece cries when she doesn’t want anyone to know. Millie looks painfully young all of a sudden. She’s just a girl.

And that’s when I make up my mind.

I sit beside her on the cot and put my arm gingerly around her shoulders. “No, you’re not going to prison.”

“What are you talking about, Nina?” She raises her tear-streaked face. “I killed him! I let him die locked in this room for a week! How does that not mean I’m going to jail?”

“Because,” I say, “you weren’t even here.”

She wipes her eyes with the back of her hand. “What are you talking about?”

My darling, Cece, please forgive me for what I’m about to do. “You’re going to leave here. I’ll tell the police I was here all week. I’ll say I gave you the week off.”


“It’s the only way,” I say sharply. “I have a chance. You don’t. I… I’ve already been hospitalized for mental health issues. Worse comes to worst…” I take a deep breath. “I’ll go back to the psychiatric hospital.”

Millie frowns, her nose pink. “You were the one who left me the pepper spray, weren’t you?”

I nod.

“You were hoping I would kill him.” I nod again.

“So why didn’t you just kill him yourself?”

I wish there was an easy answer to that question. I was worried about getting caught. I was worried about going to jail. I was worried about what my daughter would do without me.

But what it really comes down to is that I just couldn’t. I didn’t have it in me to take his life. And I did something terrible: I tried to trick Millie into killing him.

Which she did.

And now she could spend the rest of her life paying for it if I don’t do something to help her.

“Please get out while you can, Millie.” Tears prick at my eyes. “Go. Before I change my mind.”

She doesn’t have to be told again. She scrambles to her feet and hurries out of the room. Her footsteps disappear down the stairs. And then the front door slams shut, leaving

me alone in the house—just me and Andy, who is staring up at the ceiling with his dead eyes. It’s over. It’s really over. And there’s only one thing left to do.

I pick up my phone and call the police.

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